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How to Care for Your Kitchen Knives

How to Care for Your Kitchen Knives

Image of man chopping vegetables in a kitchen

Good knives are an investment in your kitchen, so it’s in your best interest to care for them well and keep them in top shape for as long as possible. This essential kitchen tool is prone to rust and corrosion over time if not correctly maintained. Knives that are properly cared for will keep their structural integrity and cutting edge much longer than knives that are abused. Sharp knives are actually safer than dull ones (a dull knife requires you to apply more pressure which makes it more likely to slip and cut you), so keeping your knives in good working order is actually an investment in safety, as well as longevity and functionality.

Image of person chopping an onion on a wooden cutting board

Cut on the right surface.

You may not be aware that the wrong surface can easily damage your knife. Many customers we visit with never knew that cutting on their counter top or stainless tables was the cause of their damaged knife edges. Avoid surfaces that can dull or damage your knife such as china, marble, granite, tile, Formica, porcelain, stainless-steel counter tops, and glass. Those surfaces can actually harm the cutting edge. Cutting surfaces should be smooth, easy to clean, and have “give” on contact with the knife’s edge. We recommend wooden or quality plastic cutting boards. No matter what cutting board you prefer, make sure you’re cleaning it after each use. Wooden cutting boards possess antibacterial properties, meaning they naturally prevent bacteria from growing and living in them. There are many types of wood that make great cutting boards including maple and teak.  Wooden boards need occasional conditioning, which can be as simple as occasionally rubbing them down with mineral oil. Bamboo boards are not ideal as they are hard and can dull knives more quickly.

Image of person hand washing a kitchen knife

Clean your knives correctly.

Knives need to be washed by hand as this method is gentler on the steel. Clean them under lukewarm water with a mild detergent and a non-scratch cloth or sponge, then dry them immediately. Also, don’t soak your knives, and never put them in the dishwasher. Dishwasher detergent is often harsh on knives, and the wash cycle can bang your knife around and compromise the sharp edge. You also don’t want your knife in a hot, wet, and humid environment for that amount of time. You could say the dishwasher is the perfect storm for damaging knives! No metal is completely ‘stain proof,’ so you don’t want to leave acidic foods (or their residue) on the blade; it can cause tarnishing, so always clean your knives right away. A common misconception is that stainless steel cannot rust. Drying your knives immediately is equally as important, since leaving water on them can corrode and leave stains on the blade.

Image of a kitchen knife and sliced bread on a wooden cutting board

Use the right tool for the job.

While paring knives can be great for peeling potatoes or slicing small fruit, they lack the size to carve a brisket or the weight to break through chicken bones. Using the right knife for every job can make all the difference in how easily the task is completed, but it also can make a serious impact on your blade condition! Food items with tougher skin like lemons and limes call for a serrated edge to get the easiest and safest cut. Sometimes it is the food that benefits from using the right tool. Trying to use a straight edge knife when slicing bread, for example, often results in a smashed loaf, whereas a serrated edge would easily slice through the rough outer edge. Never use knives as can openers or screwdrivers. When working with semi-frozen foods, never use your knife blade for poking, prying, and separating. It’s just not their designated purpose and may bend or break the blade, resulting in permanent damage or a costly repair.

Use a bench scraper for moving and scooping food, not your knife’s edge. If you’ve been using your knife’s edge to transfer foods and organize your cutting board, you’re not alone—many top chefs we’ve worked with do this too. Here’s the bad news: this is the easiest way to roll your knife’s edge, especially on those thinner knives like Myabi.  Avoid this practice before the habit becomes tough to break. We suggest picking up an inexpensive bench scraper for under $10. And if you just don’t have room for one more gadget in your kitchen, that’s no problem; use the spine of your blade to move the ingredients around.

Image of knives stored on a magnetic bar mounted on a kitchen wall

Store your knives properly.

You have several options for safe knife storage.

KNIFE BLOCK: A knife block is not only a really safe place to store your knives, it’s also a decorative one. We even carry a self-sharpening knife block that sharpens your knives each time you remove them or return them to the block. Nice, right?

MAGNETIC BAR: Can’t take your eyes off of your beautiful knives? We understand. With a magnetic bar you are able to view and easily access your knives. They attach to the wall and firmly hold knives in place.

KNIFE BAG: If you are a professional chef, you probably will want a knife bag to transport your knives. Make sure you use it with knife sheaths to protect the cutting edge of the blades.

KNIFE DRAWER: A drawer is only a good place for your knives if you use knife sheaths. Otherwise the cutting edge can chip or dent when clashing against other utensils. With sheaths, your knives – and also your fingertips – are safe.

Good, sharp knives are such an essential part of a well-functioning kitchen. We hope these tips are helpful as you purchase, use, maintain, and store your knives. Do you have any advice to add? Please share it with us! Big Plate is always here to help when you’re looking for quality kitchen knives (for both home and commercial use), so come see us or visit our website today!

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