It doesn’t matter how many high-tech gadgets and super-duper labor-saving devices you have in your kitchen, it doesn’t take long for any cook to realise that the most important have been around for the longest time.
Ever since prehistoric man realised that a sharp edge to the ribs of a sabre-toothed tiger was an easier – and safer – way of killing it than a well-aimed glare, knives have been made out of various materials. Recent decades have witnessed a revolution in design and materials.
However, there seems to be a belief that while a good set of knives may cost a fortune, they are indestructible. They are not. But a little TLC will see them – and you – through many decades of use, and who knows, in time they may become a precious family heirloom.
They are at once the workhorses and the superstars of the kitchen. Treat them as such.
If you bought your knives as part of a set with a dedicated knife block, use it. Putting knives in with the other utensils in the nearest drawer is asking for trouble. The blades can get scratched and jostled around each time you open the drawer.
There are two other options: a magnetic strip lets you line all of your knives up along the wall so that you can see immediately which one you want.
If you must keep them in a drawer, then knife organizers which prevent them rubbing shoulders with other utensils are available.
The Kitchen Sink…
…is not the place for your precious collection of sharp edges. Not only is it asking for trouble for whomever is washing the dishes, the blade can get easily scratched and the tip can bend or even break. Cracks can also appear on the handle, weakening the knife. As soon as you’re finished, wash it.
It might say dishwasher-safe, but don’t believe everything you read. There is nothing worse for your collection of quality knives than immersing them in a cycle of hot water for more than an hour. The blades could get damaged during the cycle. Two minutes washing them by hand will serve them better.
It might seem unimportant, but don’t leave your knives to dry on the dish rack where they run the risk of being damaged by other utensils. Plus, they are an ideal petri dish for mold which also can contribute to damage, corrosion and blunting their edges. Even leaving them in any liquid or with food on them for any length of time risks blunting sharp edges.
Do not attempt to use them as a saw to separate frozen food, or as a chopper. It’s a knife, not a meat cleaver, and there are few quicker ways to guarantee a disaster.
Honing and Sharpening
You may have unpacked a selection of knives so sharp they could cut through walls. However, they are not going to stay that way no matter how well they are individually treated. Hone them regularly, sharpen them occasionally. If you don’t feel you’re up to the job yourself, send them to someone trained who can do it for you.
To help prevent rust, throw a little special mineral oil on the blades occasionally. There are different types of oil recommended for different blades.
Use your knives only on wooden chopping boards. All other types – ceramic, even glass – will blunt and damage the blades.