Easy ways to help your kitchen knives last

July 27, 2015

Your kitchen knives are an essential tool when you're cutting, slicing and dicing. These essential tips will help you keep your knives sharper and help give them a maximum lifespan.

Easy ways to help your kitchen knives last

The right chopping board

Good knives should be used only on wooden or plastic cutting boards. Polyethylene is the favourite of many cooks. It's a thermoplastic that's heated, moulded, cooled and cut into a chopping block. Usually there is a rough surface on one side to help hold food in place while you cut it. While it's a matter of debate whether polyethylene is more hygienic than wood, it is easier to sanitize — just put it in the dishwasher. Other cooks still prefer wood. Here's how to find and maintain the right wood cutting board that will, in turn, will help your knives last longer.

  • Most wood cutting blocks are made of maple, cherry or oak.
  • Be sure to get one that is at least 3.5 centimetres (1 1⁄2 inches) deep for a heavy and secure chopping surface
  • A hardwood cutting board should be periodically rubbed with mineral oil to help seal it against impurities.
  • Using fine steel wool, rub the oil in and wipe off any excess.
  • Season a new board about once a week for the first month.
  • After you use the board, scour it with a brush and soapy water to remove food particles.
  • Rinse and wipe with a clean cloth dampened with a bleach solution to help sanitize the board.
  • If possible, store it upright with space for it to breathe front and back.

Storing and using your knives

Properly taken care of, good cutlery can be handed from generation to generation. Make sure to show your knives proper care and they may last a lifetime.

  • Store your knives in a wooden knife block, on a magnetic rack, or in a partitioned drawer to keep the blades from getting nicked.
  • Never use a kitchen knife for anything but cutting food. If you stir hot foods with a knife instead of a spoon, the heat may damage the blade.
  • Using a knife to open a box or pry off a jar lid will dull the knife and possibly cause an accident.
  • An inexpensive drawer insert, designed just for cutlery, keeps knives in individual slots where they are easy to find. Their sharpened blades are protected from harm by other kitchen tools in the same drawer.

Daily care for your knives

Taking care of your kitchen knives includes cleaning and maintenance, often every time you use them. consider these tips next time you use your favourite knife.

Washing knives:

  • Wash good knives by hand immediately after use (unless the manufacturer specifies that your brand is dishwasher safe).
  • Avoid soaking knives in water, which will loosen wooden handles.
  • Always dry knives thoroughly.

Sharpening knives:

  • Hand sharpening requires the user to hold the knife at a precise angle to the sharpening stone to get the best edge.
  • New electric sharpeners make the job easier. Magnets hold the blade at the correct angle on either side of a grinding mechanism. The best models have settings for major resharpening, periodic tune-ups and everyday maintenance.

Sharpening serrated knives

  • Don't try to sharpen a serrated knife with a conventional knife sharpener. This knife depends on its notches for its cutting ability, and sharpening it requires a special skill or a special sharpening tool.
  • Replace an inexpensive serrated knife that gets dull.
  • With a good knife, invest in a sharpener or take the knife to a professional.
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