In the following years I would come to understand how a good quality, sharp knife could change your life. The first time I used my chef’s knife to slice through a tomato was something akin to a religious experience (I’m not ashamed to say I’ve watched this video more than once). It was like a hot knife through butter, no hacking or sawing involved. Cooking no longer felt like a chore when the hard work had been taken out of it. A good set of knives will help you improve your technique which will in turn help to reduce both time and waste in the kitchen and if you love to cook, then it’s worth investing in the tools to get the job done correctly.
A good quality set of knives is a long term investment – treat them with kindness and they’ll see you through the years. We’ve put together a knife care top tips –and not one of them include using your knives as a glorified letter opener.
If you use your knives regularly they will have to be sharpened from time to time to maintain their keen edge. Knives can be sharpened using a ceramic stone or a waterstone (demonstrated here by Mr Mino of Global Knives). Alternatively, you can always take your knives to be sharpened professionally - many companies will only charge as little as £1 a knife which is a small price to pay for eternal joy. A well-made knife should only need to be sharpened two or three times a year.
Honing shouldn’t be confused with sharpening. When honing, you are straightening the tiny divots in your knife, correcting the edge of the blade so it becomes a sharpened triangle. To use a knife steel, hold your knife in your dominant hand and the steel in the other. Move the knife down the steel at an angle on one side and then the other. The angle at which you hone your knife is dependent on what kind of knife you have. Japanese style knifes – such as Global and Shun should be kept at an angle of 10 degrees whereas Western knives should be honed at an angle closer to 30 degrees. It’s useful to get into the habit of honing your knife before every use to keep it performing up to standard.
3. Washing & Cleaning
It is a cardinal sin to put your knives in the dishwasher. Not only will it damage the blade as it comes into contact with other items in the dishwasher but exposure to extreme heat and powerful detergents can be harmful to carbon stainless steel. Wash your knives by hand using a mild dishwasher liquid and hot water, dry thoroughly and return to its home.
To keep the blades sharp and the knives looking their finest, it's best that they're stored away from other cutlery and small hands. If you're short on kitchen space, a magnetic knife strip is the easiest way to store knives safely. Knife blocks are also available but can be a bulky and expensive addition to a kitchen work top.
5. Knife Skills
The best way to take care of your knives, is to learn how to use them properly. You’ve invested your money in buying them so why not invest your time in learning how to use them in the best way. Whether this be through videos or even taking classes, once you learn to use the tools of your trade properly, the possibilities are endless. Food writer Tim Hayward has written extensively around the subject of knives and his latest book 'Knife: The Culture, Craft and Cult of the Cooks Knives' should be on the wishlist of every cooking enthusiast.