Kitchen Knife Basics: Maintenance For A Long Life

Owning a set of kitchen knives, regardless of their type, requires certain use and maintenance in order to keep them sharp and working correctly. Whether you invested in quality kitchen knives or own a set of discount knives, you will want to keep them sharp and handling well.

The first rule of use for your kitchen knife is to be sure that your blade lands on a soft surface, such as wood or plastic, instead of a hard surface like ceramic or metal. Striking your kitchen cutlery against hard surfaces will rapidly dull the blade and hinder the performance of your kitchen knife, even if you are using high quality ceramic or stainless steel cutlery.

It’s sometimes tempting to use the kitchen knife to pry something, use it as a screwdriver or chisel and many other actions for which the kitchen cutlery is not intended. Even using the handle of your knife as a hammer is not recommended, unless it is specifically built for that task. The pins, springs and handle can loosen or break, rendering your kitchen knife useless.

You should keep your kitchen cutlery away from sand and gritty materials. Be especially aware when you are using your knives outside, for instance if you are camping, fishing or just barbequing outdoors. Be aware of your kitchen knife and if it gets wet, you should immediately dry it. When you are washing your kitchen cutlery, do so in mild, soapy water and then dry it completely with a towel, instead of allowing it to drip dry. You should always wash your kitchen cutlery by hand and dry it immediately after.

Wood tends to swell, so it you have wooden handled knives, it is best not to immerse them in water for any period of time. You can rub mineral oil on wooden knife handles to help them keep their luster. You can also increase the lifetime of your wooden handled kitchen knives by rubbing lemon oil or furniture polish into the wood handle occasionally.

Stainless steel cutlery should not rust in the humidity and it can withstand acids that it is exposed to in daily use. However, stainless steel does not mean 100 percent rust proof. The coarser the stainless steel surface is, the more likely it is to corrode. To ensure your stainless steel cutlery is corrosion resistant, you want to purchase knives with finely ground or polished surfaces.

Another option for kitchen cutlery is ceramic knives which are durable and long lasting. However, ceramic knives should also not be put in the dishwasher. They are very easy to clean; a wipe and a rinse is all that is needed to keep them in great condition for years to come.

When storing your knives, it is best to choose a knife block to protect the blades. Never put your knife into the wooden knife block wet – wood absorbs water and you could introduce mold and mildew into your knife block which could effectually ruin your kitchen knives. If you are going to keep them in a drawer, be sure that they are not tossed around too much. Jostling against other knives or instruments could cause your knife blades to chip or dull unnecessarily. It is fine to keep them in a drawer, but they should be sleeved or in compartments to avoid colliding with other utensils or inadvertently cutting you as you search in the drawer for the knife you need. Forged cutlery or stainless steel cutlery should be properly stored to ensure it lasts a long time.

Taking care of your kitchen knives is quite easy if you follow the steps outlined above:

– Keep knives out of the dishwasher
– Wash kitchen knives right after use and dry them immediately after washing
– Store them in a wooden knife block, in sleeves or in a compartmentalized drawer

Taking good care of your knives and using them properly will ensure that you will have great kitchen knives for years to come.

Ben Anton, 2007

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