This guest blog post comes to us from Rachael Narins of Chicks with Knives, a supper club in L.A. Rachael and partner Suzanne Griswold serve “S.O.L.E. food,” what they call food that is sustainable, organic, local and/or ethical. Rachael and Suzanne teach a Knife Skills class through Chicks with Knives.
I’ve been teaching Knife Skills 101 for a long time and the number one thing I’ve learned is that people seem to think a good knife will hold its razor-sharp factory-edge forever. That just isn’t true.
A good knife (and please, do invest in one if you have the means) absolutely requires maintenance.
You need to keep the blade sharp so the knife can do what it’s meant to do…cut cleanly and without too much effort. It makes cooking less of a task and is safer that way.
If your knife is new or your edge isn’t dull, you should be using your steel each and every time you use your knife. It hones the fibers of the blade and keeps the edge true.
If it is dull (gently press your thumb against it…you can tell if its sharp that way)…you need to have the blade sharpened. (Once that is done, you should start using your steel every time you pick it up…)
Before you sharpen it, you need to know a little about it. Specifically, how was it forged? Was it forged? Or maybe it was stamped. Or…it’s ceramic. Most high-end manufacturers have specifics for how their knives should be sharpened. It’s in your best interest to find that out before you go about getting it sharpened.
For sharpening…if you don’t have time for a class on how to do it yourself, we highly recommend Gary’s Knife Sharpening or Ross Cutlery, downtown. You can also use a wet-stone yourself, but without a quick lesson on the hows and whys it can do damage, so make sure you are really comfortable before you do that.
Now that you have a nice edge make sure to treat your knife with respect. It will last a lifetime if you keep that edge sharp by using your steel; wash and completely dry it every time you use it; and store it properly. Properly means: don’t toss it in a drawer. Use your knife block, or even more ideally, hang it on a magnet. Make sure you have the magnet attached to the wall properly, away from the stove, out of reach of children and completely secure. And don’t use it for anything other than preparing food – open letters and cans with something else.
There are lots of videos online on how to use, sharpen and treat a knife. Check some of them out, or better yet, join us for a Knife Skills 101 class sometime! Just make sure you treat your knife well, and it will be a tool you can count on for life.