If you know how to misuse your kitchen knife and make other knife-related kitchen mistakes, you need to know how to sharpen your knife at home.
You don’t want to throw away your kitchen knife on a regular basis or risk a dangerously dull blade. This easy-to-follow guide will help you keep your best gear and cherished collections (like those in your Misen Knife Collection) sharp for years to come.
What’s the best way to sharpen a knife?
“Dull knives are dangerous,” explains cookbook author and cookbook developer Brian Theis. “You could slip or slide off what you’re trying to cut and then cut your hand or finger! Dull knives can also affect productivity,” he said.
During his time at the International Culinary Center in New York, “they have always emphasized that it is best to sharpen knives by hand with a high-quality whetstone.”
However, the average home cook need not be intimidated by the whetstone. The best knife sharpener for your home is the one you actually use, and this knife sharpener buying guide can help you choose the best one.
How to sharpen a knife
“If you’re a home cook and wondering how to keep your kitchen knives sharp, I recommend sharpening your most-used knives a few times a month,” Brian says. “If you don’t cook often, you might be able to take a few months between sharpening your knives, whereas professional chefs sharpen their knives almost every day.”
While there are many quality tools for sharpening knives, he recommends using the tried and true whetstone method whenever possible. If not, you can try a top-notch electric model.
“Whetstones or whetstones are primarily used by professional chefs to sharpen knives, razors, scrapers, etc. They can be designed to require water or oil for lubrication, which also helps to remove or wash off sharpening points that come loose from the edge of the tool metal,” he explained.
Sharpening Stone: Choosing the right sharpener for your lifestyle and kitchen is important. If you have a little extra kitchen work area or a studio that can accommodate a proper sharpening stone, you may want to invest in it. It’s important to note that the whetstone method requires more dexterity.
Electric knife sharpener: If you’re short on space and are concerned about a more professional approach for safety reasons, opting for a quality electric knife sharpener may be best for you.
Sharpening gloves: No matter how you cut, you run the risk of cutting yourself while sharpening. That’s why it’s important to wear sharpening gloves to protect your hands — especially your fingers. They should be made of cut-resistant fibers that are stronger than leather.
Categorize tools by type
The first step is to determine the type of knife you will sharpen. For a chef’s knife, choose a whetstone or electric sharpener.
For sharpening small kitchen knives or steak knives, Brian recommends using only the electric model.
How to use a sharpening stone
Popular among professional chefs, this method requires more skill, but pays off over time. Using a sharpening stone also removes minimal tool material, which means your favorite knives will last longer than electric sharpening options. How to master the whetstone method:
- First, soak the stone for at least an hour. It should be completely submerged in water.
- Meanwhile, set up your workstation. Some sharpening stones come with bamboo or wood bases. You can also place towels on the countertop. This is a good time to put on protective gloves.
- Using a firm grip and even pressure, slowly pull the knife toward you at about a 20-degree angle, across the stone.
- Apply light pressure as you drag the knife across the stone. Your blade should glide smoothly as you draw.
- Look for cloudy or cloudy water. As you continue to push the blade through the stone, a small amount of water will collect along the blade and the whetstone. You should remove it after every few passes.
How to use an electric knife sharpener?
Use an electric sharpener to remove more of the metal edge of the knife. After dozens of sharpening with an electric sharpener, you may need to buy a new knife. This technique is great for beginners because it’s safer, but it certainly comes at a price.
However, using a sharpener is easy. On most models, you pocket it and use your knife for a few seconds, shaking it gently from side to side for a more balanced and sharper blade than before.
Clean the blade, then test
Whether you’re using an electric sharpener or a whetstone, you should rinse your knife with water when you think you’re done. Then test how easily it glides over objects like tomatoes, apples, and meat. It’s hard to know how you’re doing until you test your knives, so make sure the task is done before putting away your gear.
Both are effective ways to extend the life of your favorite knives and kitchen utensils, including kitchen scissors. No matter which route you choose, sharpening your knife safely is important. A good knife sharpener should last a few years, making this DIY a very valuable addition to your kitchen craft list.
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