Extend The Lives Of Your Knives


by Stephanie Berenbaum – updated September 5, 2014

Save Money & Cut Time In The Kitchen

If you love to cook, you know that a quality knife is often the secret weapon in transforming a hard to prepare meal into a delightful experience.  Stocking your kitchen with at least one or two fabulous knives is worth every penny.  But if you don’t take proper care of that investment, both you and your knives will soon lose your edge!

Fall marks the start of a heavy entertaining season for me -  so I finally took my knives in to Ralph, my neighborhood knife sharpening professional.  He was full of Fab & Fru tips on how to make your knives last as long as possible!

Cut out the Dishwasher

Ralph explained to me that the high heat/high humidity environment found in your dishwasher is steel’s worst enemy.  Unless you are the kind of person who takes the knives out of the dishwasher immediately and hand dries them, your best bet is to wash your knives by hand and dry them right away to prevent rust.

Get into the Groove

Ralph says to only use wood cutting boards – and specifically ones that are soft enough to have your knives leave a groove in them.  In his words, “Plastic cutting boards should be banned!” According to Ralph, plastic and bamboo are too hard and will dull your knives in a hurry.

Hone Your Skills

Use your honing steel to do a quick sharpen each time you use your knives.  This serves two purposes – it make sure your steel is sharp, but it will also get rid of any unwanted material on it, ensuring that your blade will make a clean cut.

Don’t Be a Blockhead

Ralph is not a fan of storing knives in wood blocks.  Sure, they look nice, but he worries about all the bacteria that can get trapped down in the holding slots.  Plus, if you stick wet knives in there, you are really asking for it.  Instead, he suggests either sticking your knives to a magnetic wall strip or having a dedicated knife drawer in the kitchen (though if you have small kids in the house, chances are these aren’t great options for you).  Added benefit – you won’t dull the blade by running it along the wood every time you take it out of block to use it!

Each Knife Has a Purpose

Ralph took one look at my expensive chef’s knife and knew that I had been using it to cut through chicken bones –- this man is good! He showed me the blade up close and I could see that little bits of the steel had actually broken off, so the blade was not really a clean line anymore.  You will extend the life of each of your knives if you only use them for what they are intended for.  From now on, I will leave the heavy duty butchering to cleavers and poultry shears!

Sharpen Regularly

Ralph told me there is an easy way to tell when your knives need sharpening.  Take a piece of paper and try to cut straight down with your knife.  If it does so easily, it is sharp.  If there is a lot of fuzz or the paper tears more than slices, time to get them sharpened.

Buying great kitchen knives can be expensive.  However, if you take proper care of them, you will turn what you once thought of as an extravagant expenditure into one of the sharpest lifelong investments you’ll ever make!

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5 Responses to “Extend The Lives Of Your Knives”

  1. Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

  2. I have searched all over google for info on this topic, I finally found a good post, looking forward to coming back!

  3. A good in depth article on a very important subject for any would-be cook.
    Thank you.

  4. Sue says:

    Awesome info. Thanks so much!!!

  5. Molly says:

    Super useful. I knew all about keeping knives sharpened and out of the dishwasher, but never thought about all the bacteria in the slots in the wooden block. Ewww…..

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