Want to learn the ins and outs of knife maintenance? Look no further. We've rounded up some knife tips to help keep your knife looking and performing as if it were brand new.
How To Clean
More than likely, your kitchen knives are some of your most used kitchen utensils. From slicing and chopping to dicing and cubing, many cooks rely on their Made In Knives to help them create delicious and beautiful meals. But if you're not cleaning your knives properly, your culinary creations could be suffering as a result.
The Importance of a Clean Knife
Clean knives are important not just for sanitary reasons, but for practical purposes as well. If you wait too long after using your knife to clean it, food particles may begin to solidify on the knife and become difficult to remove. Over time, buildup like this on your knife can lead to a dull blade.
Reasons to Avoid the Dishwasher
As tempting as it may be to toss your knives in the dishwasher, you should always wash your kitchen knives by hand. This is because dishwashers use high heat and abrasive detergents. Over time, these will cause dulling of your blades and damage to knife handles. This is especially true of wooden knife handles, which can crack and splinter if exposed to the high heat and moisture of a dishwasher. A very sharp knife can also chip away at the coating on your dishwasher shelves, causing damage to both your knife and dishwasher. So why risk it?
Cleaning Your Knives Safely
Handwashing knives is always the best way to go, but how can you do so effectively and safely? For starters, it's always best to clean knives right away after use. This will make things easier on you since it allows you to clean the blades before any food solidifies onto them.
When cleaning knives manually, always keep the blade of the knife pointed away from you and your fingers. Using a dishcloth or sponge with warm water and dish soap, carefully wipe each side of the blade. You can do this even more safely by simply laying the knife on your kitchen counter and wiping each side of the blade this way.
If there are any stubborn food particles on the blade, the best course of action is to soak the knife for a few minutes in a mixture of hot water and dish soap. Aggressively scrubbing the blade to remove the food particles could lead to you accidentally cutting yourself. Soaking the blade for a few minutes is usually enough to loosen up the particles and make them easy to wipe off without incident.
Cleaning knives by hand is a good habit to get into. Just be sure to keep some basic safety tips in mind so you can achieve clean knives without injuring yourself in the process!
Sharpen vs. Hone
We spent a lot of time designing and tooling our knives and searched far and wide to source the best metals for our production. Our factory is in its 5th generation of family ownership and every knife passes through the hands of skilled craftsmen.
That said, knives get dull with use. It’s up to you to give your knife a little TLC every once in a while. Honing and sharpening your knife will keep your blade good as new and make prepping your favorite recipes that much easier.
Honing is something cooks in the know do very frequently. It is the act of realigning the blade when it gets bent out of shape during use. There is minimal metal lost during the honing process.
Sharpening, on the other hand, is something that should be done less frequently and shaves metal off in order to create a new edge on your knife.
A good analogy is that knife maintenance is like taking care of your teeth. Honing is like brushing your teeth: Do it often. Sharpening is like going to the dentist: Twice a year should do.
Honing is done with a honing steel. People often confuse this for a sharpening device. However, while a straightened blade will feel like it cuts sharper, honing is not the same as sharpening.
The most common honing steel material is stainless steel, and it's the safest to use for regular honing. You can also find honing steels in ceramic or diamond plate, which tend to be harder materials that can actually shave some metal off the knife creating a bit of a sharpening effect. These harder honing steels are good for extending the time between sharpening, but not for regular use.
There are a few options when it comes to sharpening your knife. The classic sharpening device used everywhere is a whetstone. Advanced knife sharpening enthusiasts will have various grit levels of whetstones, taking their knives from rougher to finer grit for the perfect blade. Sharpening knives can be intimidating, but our 'how to sharpen knives' article has you covered.
Also available are electric sharpeners (for those that don’t want to go through the manual process of a whetstone). Lastly, there's no shame in dropping your knife off with a sharpening professional — it often yields the best results.
Knife Sharpening Basics
Can you oversharpen a knife?
Are you avoiding sharpening your knives because you are worried about damaging them by "oversharpening" them? Don’t be. With the right tools and methods, it's not likely you'll oversharpen your knives by taking off too much metal. You’ll see what we mean as you keep reading.
What is the perfect knife sharpness?
What exactly makes a knife feel "sharp," anyway? In general, sharpness relates to the angle of the blade. The more acute the angle, the sharper the blade will be. In most cases, the ideal degree for a knife will be between 15 and 30 degrees. In most cases, it will come out of the box at the right angle and you won’t have to worry about the angle as you start cutting.
A sharpening test
You can generally tell that your knife needs to be sharpened if it is unable to slice easily and cleanly through a sheet of paper held at one end. If it’s not slicing cleaning, the blade has likely dulled and is no longer at that pristine 15-30 degrees.
Maintaining Your Knife
Sharpening with a Whetstone
A whetstone is a fine-grained stone that features a coarse and fine side for versatile sharpening. It is an inexpensive sharpening tool that can be used on any knife, making it a popular option.
Using a whetstone to sharpen a knife can take some practice. Tt can be tough to get the hang of holding the knife at the proper angle, which is essential when it comes to whetstone success. However, once you master it, it’s quick, easy, and reliable.
To ensure the whetstone stays in place while you sharpen, try setting a rubber shelf liner or a damp paper towel underneath the stone. From there, begin with the coarse side of the stone facing up. Hold the knife at a 15-30-degree angle and draw the blade down and across the stone using large circular motions. Repeat this same process with the other side of the knife blade. Once you're happy with the sharpness of the knife, flip the whetstone over to the finer side and repeat the entire process to polish things up.
Sharpening with an Electric Sharpener
These "cutting-edge" tools are specifically designed to reshape the edge of the knife itself, which can involve removing a decent amount of metal in the process. For that reason, we recommend an electric sharpener only if you need a pretty dramatic resharpening.
Most electric sharpeners will come with directions, but you’ll see right away that these easy-to-use machines have spring-loaded guides that steady your blade. All you need to do is hold your knife at an exact angle and the machine will sharpen it. It should take less than a minute for your blade to be sharpened.
The Bottom Line
Whether you use a whetstone, honing rod, or electric sharpener, always remember to be careful. Knives, even dull knives, are sharp.
If sharpening at home makes you a little nervous, call in the professionals. You can always send your knives in to be professionally sharpened at a local knife shop and/or kitchen store.