Kitchen Helpers: A Home Cook's Guide to Sharper Knives

How can you tell if your knife has gone dull? Maybe it still cuts tomatoes just fine, but you could be one slip away from a trip to the emergency room. Or, maybe your knives are obviously dull. Here’s how to tell, and how to keep your knives sharp and safe.

Choose the Right Knife

It’s rare for a good knife to become utterly useless, given the proper care and attention. Most peoples’ mistakes lie in the initial knife selection. A good Santoku knife from http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/, or executive-level knives like Shun, Asaiaogami, Takamura HSPS Gyuto, or Misono will be some of the best you can buy.

Yes, you'll spend more up front, but these knives will more than make up for it in the effortless cuts they give you. Plus, a sharp knife is a safe knife. And, these knives are scary-sharp.

Test Your Knives

Aside from the thumb test, you can test your knives by cutting through paper or other soft objects. Hold up a piece of paper and place the blade on it. Make a deliberate, but quick, slice. The weight of the knife should shear the paper in half. If it doesn’t, your knife isn't as sharp as it should be for cutting delicate items (or anything for that matter).

Keep Your Knives Clean

Keeping your knives clean is important. In fact, this is the single-most important factor in keeping your knives from wearing out prematurely while they wait to be used again. Sure, improper cutting techniques will dull a good knife, but not washing them or keeping them clean will cause them to rust.

You see, the best knives are not made of stainless steel. Why not? Because stainless steel won’t hold an edge. So, if you're getting top-shelf knives that actually cut, you're going to want to wash them and dry them immediately.

Always keep them clean. Always.

Store Your Knives Properly

Storing your knives isn't complicated. At the same time, it’s not always common-sense. Do not store them in a drawer. This is a recipe for disaster. For one thing, drawer knives always get dull fast because they're constantly rubbing against other things.

Drawer knives also get dinged up and bent pretty easily, and they're a cut-risk when you reach in there for, well, anything.

Get yourself one of those magnetic strips and tack it to the wall somewhere out of the way (but still in the kitchen). This is where your knives should live.

How to Use Your Knives

Always use a wooden cutting board. Wooden boards can be hard wood, soft wood, or faux woods like bamboo. If you just spent £300 on a top-shelf Santoku Knife, the last thing you want is to ding or bend the blade on the first use because of an unsuitable board. There are plastic and Teflon boards along with glass boards as well. Make sure you use them as they are recommended.

Karen Brown is a home economist. She likes to write about ways to live better. Her articles can be found on many family and living websites.

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