I think not knowing how to properly clean and sharpen kitchen knives is probably one of the more common kitchen maintenance errors for most people. Chances are that you’ve probably assumed that kitchen knives should be taken care of just like every other kitchen utensil at some point in your life. Maybe you’ve since figured out what a huge difference it makes when you have knives that are properly cared for, but if you haven’t ever put any thought into it, I have some fairly life-changing tips here for you today! Well, cooking-life-changing at least! 🙂
First of all, let’s talk about cleaning your knives. Whether you have a basic knife or two from a big box store, or a whole set of top of the line knives, they’ll be so much better if you take care of the properly, and that starts with cleaning. Do not put your knives in the dishwasher! Don’t do it! I know it’s tempting, and believe me, I’ve tested this theory out for you enough to know that it’s a big mistake. My lazy streak says “You’re welcome.” 🙂 Putting your knives through the dishwasher will dry out, fade, and discolor the handle, discolor the blade and cover it in rust spots, and rapidly dull the blade. The worst part is that if you’re not someone who has put a lot of thought into taking care of your knives, then you won’t even notice that they’ve gone dull because it happens so gradually. This can lead to year of frustration at the cutting board. Years! Most people don’t go out and buy new knives every year!
So how should you wash them? It’s the easiest thing possible.
Rinse them off. Wipe them with a dry, clean towel, put them away. That’s it!
If you have something sticky stuck to the blade of your knife, you can use a little bit of soap and a soft nylon dish brush to get it off, but for most fruit and veggie chopping sessions, a good rinse with warm water is all you need.
When you store your knives, store them with care. Make sure they have their own special spot with plenty of breathing room. Don’t have them all clanging up against each other in the drawer, which can result in them getting dull and banged up. I really like to use these non-slip drawer organizers, which makes sure that they don’t slide around when the drawer is opened and closed. A non-skid liner across the whole drawer works too!
Now for the sharpening part! I think a lot of people avoid thinking about sharpening their knives because they think it’s going to be difficult or involve some kind of special skill. I know I felt that way for a long time. Finally, one day I decided that enough was enough and I was just going to have to learn how to properly sharpen my knives. I went out to buy one of those long sharpening steel things and that’s when I made the most exciting discovery of my chopping/dicing/slicing career! Check this gizmo out!
It seems silly now to think that I never realized that someone had probably invented a really easy to use knife sharpening device, but it just never crossed my mind! If you’ve been missing out on having sharp kitchen knives too, then this is a great little addition to your kitchen. I picked mine up locally, but here’s a really similar one that you can order off of Amazon.
It has two separate little slots, labeled “1” and “2”. To sharpen any non-serrated knife, just run your knife through the “1” slot about 5 times, then do the same thing through the “2” slot. Done! You’ll notice such a difference in your knives instantly! Did you know that sharper knives give you much more control, prevent slipping, and make handling knives so much safer? It’s true! Now that I’m teaching Kennedy to work with me in the kitchen on a regular basis, and to start developing her knife skills, I always make sure to keep my knives sharp.
Do you have any knife maintenance tips that just make all the difference for you? I’d love to hear about them!
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.