Hello my Foodie Friends!
The stress of the holiday season is often compounded by the task of finding that special gift for that someone who has “everything.” What to get that someone can become a daunting task. Consider the gift of knife sharpening. It is a gift worth giving. Many individuals do not realize how dull their knives have become, and over compensate when using them. Even the finest knives will dull with regular use, but periodic sharpening will restore the blade's keen edge. A dull knife requires greater force, tears at food, tires the hand and increases the odds of cutting yourself badly, usually requiring stitches. Dull knives cause infinitely worse and more frequent injuries than sharp ones for a few reasons. They require more pressure to use, which can make them prone to slipping. And if they do, they hit with that much more force, and result in a more ragged, much harder to heal injury than one a sharp knife would make.
Yes, it's possible to sharpen and hone your knives at home, and it's something everyone should do to preserve the integrity of your blades (and, again, stay safe.) If you have your knives sharpened by a professional once or twice a year, you can maintain them without too much hassle. So, let me set your knife edge to factory sharp so you can concentrate on other holiday matters. It's OK to be kind to yourself sometimes. You can tell when your knife is dull, but a good rule of thumb is to try to slice through a tomato or a piece of paper. If the blade goes through anything but easily, it's time to sharpen or have them sharpened.
Once you get your knives professionally sharpened, it is important to keep them sharp. I will go into brands when you stop in and share a cup of Joe with me on some cold winter’s day. The best advice I can give is that a good knife is the one that best fits your hand and is a sharp! You could own the most expensive knife in the world but if it’s dull it’s not as good as a sharp $10 knife.
Even a good knife will lose some of its sharpness with time. However, sharpening a knife is easy if you have the right tool and know how to use it. Great tools help yield great results. The use of steel or a hand sharpener can help make your knives last a lifetime.
Here are some options on how to keep your knives sharp once they are sharpened by a Pro (Me):
HONING STEEL TYPES
Generally three different materials are being used for Honing steels:
• Chromium-plated Honing steel: Sharpening steels with a chromium-plated, grooved surface deliver a good re-sharpening result and are relatively immune to damages (my favorite).
• Ceramics: Sharpening steels with a ceramics blade sharpen gently and carefully. However, the ceramics blade is sensitive to shock. A fall can easily damage it.
• Diamond: Honing steels with a diamond coating of the blade deliver a particularly fine re-sharpening result. The average life span is shorter, though, because the coating tends to wear off with time.
HOW TO HONE KNIVES WITH A STEEL:
• Place the knife blade against the tip of the sharpening steel at an angleof approximately 20 degrees and 15 degrees for Asian style knives.
• Pull the knife down and across the steel, describing a slight arc.
• Repeat action on back of the steel to sharpen the other side of the blade.
• Repeat steps 2 and 3 five to ten times, alternating the left and right side of the blade.
It is important to maintain the angle of 20 or 15 degrees and to run the full length of the cutting edge along the steel from the hilt to the tip of the knife. The speed of the movement is not important. Use finesse not brute force!
WITH A TWO STAGE HAND SHARPENER:
• Place your sharpener on a flat surface. Hold the sharpener with one hand and the knife handle with the other. Insert knife blade fully into the slot.
• Apply moderate downward pressure (remember finesse) on the blade while pulling the knife toward you through the appropriate notch.
• Repeat this action, always pulling from heel to tip (never back and forth) through the carbide or the ceramic notch.
The first stage carbide (coarse) sharpens dull edges. The second stage ceramic (fine) provides a polished, razor sharp edge. A reasonably sharp knife may only require light honing.
Not sure what to give this holiday season for the person who has everything? Give the gift of professionally sharpened knives. It is a gift worth giving. We have a great assortment of knives to get a Foodie started using their skills. At Compliments to the Chef; Your neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Pl., we professionally sharpen knives. Remember my Foodie Friends: “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”
John & Paula