kitchen knife maintenance

Seven Kitchen Knife Maintenance Tips You Can Start Now

Kitchen Knives are A Culinary Investment

As a home cook, one of the best purchases you can make is a set of kitchen knives. A quality set of knives will help develop your cooking skills and replace overpriced and space-hogging gadgets designed for only one purpose. Because knives are one of the most used kitchen tools, they also deserve proper care to extend their life and integrity. I have seven simple and easy kitchen knife maintenance tips to keep your knives like new and make the most of your investment. The first tip is to keep your knives properly stored for their best protection and reduce the risk of injuries. 

Proper Storage is Important for Kitchen Knife Maintenance

Proper storage is one of the most essential kitchen knife maintenance aspects. Unless you’re a full-time chef for a living, your knives will spend most of their life in storage between use. Placing knives with the blade exposed in a drawer is a hazardous storage method. Exposed blades are not only a potential personal injury risk, but the blade can also be damaged. Instead, try the following ways: 

  • The best way to store knives is in a knife block. There are phenomenal knife sets that include a block, including Master Maison and Henckels knives. Be sure to wash and fully dry knives before placing them in a knife block. 
  • If you don’t have the counter space for a knife block, you can protect the knife’s edge with a blade guard or knife roll bag. Using both a guard and roll bag protects knife blades and handles and prevents the roll bag from being cut during storage. 
  • While they are on the market, I don’t recommend magnetic knife bars. They can quickly become a safety hazard if a knife is too heavy and slides off, and they can even become a pinching hazard. If you purchase a magnetic kitchen knife bar, please use caution and follow the manufacturer’s installation and use guidelines.

Avoid Scraping Food With Kitchen Knives

One of the most common mistakes made with a knife is using the blade to scrape food off a cutting board. And if you’re feeling seen right now, you’re not alone! Scraping food with a knife after chopping is a bad habit that can be hard to break. After all, it’s convenient to scrape with a tool already in your hand. But that dragging motion is like scraping your nails along a chalkboard to the knife’s edge. For knife maintenance, try to kick the habit of scraping with a knife and use a bench scraper instead. 

Kitchen Knives Should Only Touch Food

Kitchen knives to chefs are like fabric shears to crafters. Kitchen knives should only be used for food preparation and not for opening shipping packages, cutting plastic ties, or other non-food materials. Using a knife for purposes other than food prep can cause chips in the blade or even cracked knives. If you are cutting culinary twine or plastic poultry ties, use a pair of kitchen shears instead of a knife. Shears have the leverage to cut materials without damaging knife blades. 

Keep Knives Away From Harsh Elements

An important part of kitchen knife maintenance is keeping knives away from harsh elements, in particular temperature and humidity. When knives are exposed to moisture for a prolonged period, blades can rust, and wooden handles may crack or warp. If you use a magnetic bar for knife storage, avoid locations where it will be exposed to humidity and extreme heat or cold. For example, avoid areas above sinks, tea kettles, stove tops, or poorly insulated windows. There are also elements to consider when washing knives. 

Kitchen Knife Maintenace When Washing

I know it’s tempting to save time by adding a kitchen knife to a dishwasher, but it may ruin your knife over time. A dishwasher’s extreme heat and humidity can cause wooden handles to rot or warp over time. In addition, ingredients added to dishwasher tabs or soap can damage or discolor knife blades. The other risk of dishwashing knives is that the tip could break off if it shifts. 

Instead, handwash knives with warm water, mild soap, and a non-abrasive sponge or brush. Avoid soaking knives in a sink to reduce exposure to moisture, risks of injury, and potential blade damage. Once washed, dry your knives with a soft cloth or paper towel and safely store them away.  

Use a Honing Rod Regularly for Kitchen Knife Maintenance

A well-maintained knife edge cuts more efficiently and reduces the risk of personal injuries. Honing rods (sometimes known as steel or sharpening rods) are an effective tool to maintain edges. But did you know honing rods aren’t sharpening a blade? As you use a knife, the edge can warp and bend on a microscopic level. A honing rod helps to realign the edge for a smoother cut. 

Honing A Non-Serrated Knife

  1. Hold the rod handle in your non-dominant hand with the tip facing down. Place the tip on a table and hold the road straight down at a 90-degree angle. (Think sword in the stone here.)
  2. Hold your knife in your dominant hand and place the tip flat against the rod about halfway down.  
  3. Rotate the knife 15 to 20 degrees away from the honing knife, keeping the blade’s edge in contact with the rod. If the knife is to the right of the rod, tilt the knife to the right. If to the left of the rod, tilt the knife to the left. This will ensure the edge of the blade maintains a V shape. 
  4. Carefully pull the knife back, ensuring the entire blade comes in contact with the rod. Use caution to keep the blade clear of your arm and body and at a safe distance from others. 
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 on the same side for four additional knife pulls along the honing rod. 
  6. Switch to the other side of the honing rod. Repeat steps 3 to 5. 
  7. For a straighter alignment, repeat steps 3 and 4, but switch sides after each pull. Then, continue alternating another 14 times for 16 pulls all together. 

Honing A Serrated Knife

Serrated knives have teeth along the blade and require more time when honing and sharpening their blades. If you look at a serrated knife blade, the edge has two sides. One side is flat, while the other has angled grooves that create the serrations. To sharpen a serrated knife:

  1. Using a serrated knife sharpener, hold the knife in your non-dominant hand and the sharpener in your dominant hand. 
  2. Align the sharpener in each tooth at a 15 to 20-degree angle following the direction of the groove. Then, pull the sharpener entirely through the tooth. 
  3. Move to the next tooth and repeat step 2 for each tooth. 
  4. The flat side can be honed by pulling the blade along a honing steel at about a 5-degree angle. This removes any burrs created by sharpening the teeth. 

A honing steel helps maintain a blade’s edge, but they have limits. That is when sharpening comes in, removing imperfections in the blade and shaping it down to a new edge.   

Sharpening is an Important Aspect of Kitchen Knife Maintenance

 Sharpening is one of the most essential kitchen knife maintenance aspects. Home sharpener varieties are available depending on your type of knife and skill level. Some sharpeners align a knife in a series of V-shaped sharpening rods and pull the blade through to maintain the proper angle easily. Other sharpeners are wet stones requiring a steady hand and practice for the appropriate angle. While honing rods have universal steps, the sharpener you choose will have unique steps. Follow the manufacturer’s tips and instructions for proper sharpening. 

Sharpening Through A Professional

If you’re more comfortable or prefer to hire a professional to sharpen your knives, knife sharpening is a widely available service. The cost will average between $2 and $10 per knife length inch but can vary based on the knife type, condition, material, and other factors. I recommend seeking a cost appraisal and reading customer reviews before hiring a company or individual for knife sharpening. 

Knives Will Shrink Over Time

One factor I always inform about knife sharpening is that the blade size will slowly reduce over time. The reason is that to renew a blade’s edge, metal is ground away to reform the edge. You probably won’t even notice it until you compare a brand-new version of a knife to one that has been sharpened multiple times. If a blade is chipped or cracked, more material must be ground away to remove the imperfections. Even though you are slowly removing the metal, sharpening is a must for a knife’s cutting quality.

Daily Kitchen Knife Maintenance is Easy

I know I’ve packed a lot of information into this article, and kitchen knife maintenance may seem like a lot. But taking small steps daily will help ensure your knives stay sharp and ready to tackle all of your favorite recipes. The easiest methods to protect your knives are proper storage, keeping knives dry, and washing by hand. Setting aside a few minutes of honing can help maintain the blade’s edge and sharpen when needed. You will enjoy a lasting set of quality knives by following these kitchen knife maintenance tips. 

This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission by purchasing items linked to Amazon. There is no added expense for you, and it will help support Flavors of Paradis LLC. All products recommended are hand selected by Flavors of Paradis unless otherwise stated as a sponsored product. 

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