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How to use a Chef Knife

As you already know we sell beautiful hand crafted Chef knives here at Dinner Thyme. But there is a lot more to owning good knives, you have to look after them! Here is a short thread to introduce you to the care and use of good quality knives.


#1. Keep Your Knife Clean After Each Use

Lemons, tomatoes, and onions are acidic. The acid can corrode the blade of your knife over time. So, it's wise to clean your knife after cutting anything acidic, especially when using the high carbon steel knife.

Most modern kitchen knives are stainless steel, meaning they contain certain alloys that prevent rust. Neglecting your knife will eventually lead to small rust patterns developing on your blade, especially closer to the cutting edge where the stainless steel might have worn back.  

Also, while working, keep your knife clean. Wipe it with a kitchen towel to remove the food particles after each use.

#2. Wash Your Knife with Soapy Water

Use mild soap and hot water to wash and clean your knife. It's best to wash it immediately after use to avoid corrosion and for improved hygiene. For best results, never soak your knife, as this can over-saturate your handle which leads to bacteria build-up.

Caring and maintaining for your knives is essential to improve the lifespan and avoid injury. So, washing by hand is ideal for keeping them clean.

#3. Immediately Dry Your Knife

Don't let your knife air dry, as it can cause rusting or germ build-up. Instead, it's best to use a hand towel to wipe it clean as soon as you wash it.

You can also use a paper towel when drying your knife. It may appear small, but these things can help keep your knife in top-notch condition.

Bonus Tip: You can oil your knife after drying it! Use any neutral oil for this purpose. But make sure you don’t touch the blade edge! It's best to use a paper towel for oiling the sharp edges and always work towards the knife edge. Placing your knife on a flat surface can also help to avoid cuts when polishing. 

#4. Use The Right Cutting Board

Use the right cutting board! Yes, you heard that right. You may think that glass cutting or marble boards are great for your knife, but actually, they can affect the blade of your knife.

It's best to go for the wooden or plastic boards as it's easy on the blades. So, if you don't want the knife blade to become dull, opt for the right cutting board.

Bonus tip: Shop for chopping boards at hospitality stores (and online) as these are industry standard and last a long time! They also come in a range of different colours, so you can keep your meats and vegetables prep separate with specific colours.

#5. Sharpen And Hone Your Knife

You should consider a professional tune-up each year. Or if the knife appears dull, it's time to sharpen it. You can use a whetstones and leather strops for sharpening the blade. Similarly, a honing rod can be of great help. By honing the knife, you are aligning its edge.

A dull knife is dangerous in comparison to a sharp knife. You would be applying more pressure when using the dull knife, and thus, you may cut or injure yourself.

A sharpening stone can help in sharpening the knife. You can also opt for an electric sharpener or let a professional sharpen it for you. You can sharpen your knife twice a year and hone it before each use.

To hone or stone? Japanese-style knives are made of very hard steel so can only be sharpened using whetstones. Western-style knives are softer by comparison, so a honing rod can correct an edge. The harder the steel, the longer the edge lasts, so generally harder steel is preferred by chefs.

#6. Don't Use The Dishwasher

The heat of the dishwasher is not suitable for cleaning your knife.

If the knife handle is wood or is constructed from resins, it won't be ideal for cleaning it in the dishwasher.

The reason for this is two-fold. One, the dishwasher is too hot for too long for the health of your knife. Two, the water from the dishwasher over-saturates your knife handle, which results in bacteria build-up.

#7. Focus On Storing Your Knives Correctly

Be careful with storing your knives. Use knife blade covers to minimize the contact of your knife with other utensils. When in contact with other utensils, your knife can chip, break, or become dull.

You can also use a kitchen knife block for storing your knife. A magnetic knife rack can also help, but make sure the blades are facing upward as you don't want to injure yourself while accessing the knives.





CUTLERY SHARPENING

There are a variety of devices used today to keep cutlery sharp including traditional sharpening stones, rod-type systems, slotted manual and electric sharpeners, and belt-type sharpeners. Most chefs prefer the use of traditional sharpening stones which are standard in most professional kitchens. However, for the best maintenance cutlery should be sharpened periodically by a professional knife sharpener using a belt-type sharpening system.


WHETSTONE

Japanese Water Stone

Whetstone is a term used for stone sharpeners both natural and artificial. The term “whet” means to sharpen a blade. Sharpening stones come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and material compositions. Stones are usually available in various grades, which refer to the grit size of the particles in the stone.

The most notable natural stones are from mines in Arkansas, Belgium, Japan, India, and Turkey. Natural stones are expensive and are harder to obtain because many of the mines have been depleted.

Artificial sharpening stones composed of stone, ceramic, or diamond materials are available with two or three levels of grit or coarseness and are the most common types used in professional kitchens. These stones can be used dry or with water or oil.

Japanese water stones are made from natural or artificial materials that are softer than western-style sharpening stones. They are soaked in water before sharpening and because they are made from softer materials they are less abrasive on cutlery.

SHARPENING WITH A WHETSTONE

The general objective is to create a consistent edge on the blade without causing excessive wear on the knife or an uneven edge.  The knife is laid parallel to the surface of the stone with a slight 10°-20° angle depending on the type of blade. The process begins by sharpening one side which will create a burr on the opposite edge. The burr is then taken off returning an edge to the knife.

Tri-Stone

  • Place the stone on a table with a damp towel underneath to prevent slippage

  • Oil or wet the stone before starting the sharpening process

  • The angle of the blade should be about 10° for Japanese blades and 20° for German blades

  • Apply even but not excessive pressure when drawing the knife across the surface of the stone

  • The knife can be drawn across the stone from the tip of the blade to the heel of the blade or in reverse from the heel to the tip of the blade

  •  Follow through and sharpen the complete blade from tip to heel so there are no dull spots at the top or bottom

  • Draw the knife across 5 times

  • Repeat the process with the opposite side of the knife

  • Use the coarser grit sharpening surface to begin the process and move to the finer grit to finish the sharpening process


KNIFE SAFETY TIPS

A sharp knife is a safe knife - Dull knives make it harder to cut through the surface of some foods which can result in the knife slipping and causing injury. Dull knives can also make work harder by putting a strain on your hands, wrists, and arms. Both sharp and dull knives can result in accidents but dull knives usually result in worse ones.

Keep focused to avoid accidents-Distractions often lead to accidents so stop cutting when talking to someone or if something in the kitchen distracts your attention. Stabilize the cutting board- Cutting boards now come with rubber feet to keep them from sliding but if they don’t make sure you use a damp towel under the board to stabilize it.

Never grab a falling knife - Avoid leaving a knife with the handle handing over the edge of a workspace. The natural instinct to grab for anything that’s falling should be avoided when a knife falls. Keep your hands and feet out of the way of the falling object.

Use the right knife for the right job -Knife injuries occur through laziness when using the knife at hand rather than the correct knife for a job so always have your cutlery set within easy reach. 

Carry a knife properly- In a professional kitchen, the environment and pace can be quite hectic. Always walk with a knife pointed straight down and the blade turned towards your thigh.  Never place a knife on a cutting board or box and walk with it. If you trip the knife will fly through the air and possibly cause injury to someone else.

Never place a knife in a sink full of water- Always wash knives and other sharp objects like food processor blades by hand and put them away immediately. Sinks are bad for knives because they can damage the blade but can be worse if someone reaches into the sink without knowing.

Always cut on a cutting board – Hard surfaces like metal, glass, or marble will damage and dull a knife’s edge.


Cheers, and have a Happy Hump Day!





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