Caring for Kitchen Knives & Using Them Safely
Once you’ve chosen quality knives for your kitchen, take a little time to maintain them properly. Not only will they last longer, but they’ll work better, too.
How to Wash Kitchen Knives
Kitchen knives last longer if they aren’t cleaned in a dish washer. Detergents are harsh and can dull knives’ edges, and the variable temperatures of the water may affect the knife’s steel. Therefore, whenever possible, wash knives by hand with a mild soap (like Dawn).
To prevent discoloration, rinse knives immediately. This also makes hand washing easier.
If knives become stained, rub with a clean wine cork dipped in a little coarse salt and lemon juice (or vinegar).
Never let knives soak in water, since this can damage them.
Storing Kitchen Knives
To prevent injury to the blades, store knives in a wood or polyethylene block. Just make sure knives are clean and dry so the slots in the block don’t get dirty or moldy.
If you can’t do this for some reason, be sure to sheath your knives individually. Either way, you’ll help keep your knives sharp – and prevent injury to yourself and others in your kitchen.
Maintaining Kitchen Knives
Not only do sharp knives make your work easier, they make the knife safer. When using dull knives, we’re more apt to use excessive muscle force, which can lead to injury due to slippage or dropping the knife.
You’ll know your knife is well sharpened if you run its blade over a tomato and it makes a clean cut with no real effort on your part.
To prevent your knives from dulling prematurely, use polyethylene cutting boards. Wood is acceptable, too, although harder to sanitize. Other types of cutting boards dull and damage knife blades.
Many experts recommend frequent use of a sharpening steel – perhaps after every second or third use. This keeps the blade’s sharpness and prolongs the overall life of the knife. Using a fine steel for a smooth finish, put the bottom edge of the knife behind the steel at a 20 degree angle; run the whole blade down the edge of the steel while pulling it sideways. Repeat, putting the knife in front of the steel.
Use Knives Safely
- Keep knives sharp.
- If you drop a knife, stand back and allow it to fall. Never try to catch it.
- Hold whatever you’re cutting by curling your fingers under and placing them on top of the food. Then put the side of the knife near your knuckles.
- Only use a knife when your hands are dry.
- Only cut on a cutting board that is dry and won’t slip out from under you.
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