The Knife: Your Most Basic Tool.

What’s the most basic tool in any kitchen?  Probably a knife.  Even before I moved out of my parents’ house, before I had my own kitchen, before I started to learn how to cook, I had a nice set of knives.  Unfortunately, I did not know how to take care of them, so those knives are no more.  When I got married, I was gifted a nice knife set, as well as several chef’s knives (kudos to my husband for doing a nice job with the registry).

These knives I am determined to make last.  How do you do it?  Well, a few things to keep in mind.

Clean your knives by hand.

Knife being cleaned by hand,

It only takes a minute to clean your knives by hand.  Putting them in a dishwasher allows them to get knocked around and can damage the blade.  Clean them and dry them by hand and then put them away.  This brings me to

Store the knives properly. 

Knives stored in a block.

Store them properly.  Whether it’s in a block, or in a drawer, make sure the blades are protected.  If placing in a block, don’t push the blade against the wood of the block, just gently lay it in. If you’re storing your blades in a drawer, get some sleeves to protect the blade (and any hands that reach into the drawer).

Learn to hone your knives.

Knife and Steel sitting on cutting board

Most knife sets come with a steel.  Think of it as a thick, but dull sword.  The steel is used to hone your blade.  Honing doesn’t actually sharpen it; it just helps the blade keep its shape.  To hone, pull the blade at about a 20-degree angle against the steel, alternating sides.  Honing periodically will help the blade stay sharp and last longer.

Sharpen your knives.

I remember as a child, every now and then this red van would come through the neighborhood.  I vaguely recall it having some sort of music to draw attention to it, like an ice cream truck.  But this was no ice cream truck, this was the knife van.  Yes, there was a van that would come through the neighborhood.  I remember my mother going out to the curb and waiting for it to stop in front of our house where she would present her large butcher knife for sharpening.  If only it was that easy now. 

You can buy knife sharpening tools and do it yourself, but if you have a good set of knives, why not take it to a professional and have it done.  Knife sharpening is not expensive, especially compared to the cost of a good knife.  A professional will know how to get the blade sharp, without taking off more then necessary, prolonging the life of your blade.

On that note, probably best to have a backup professional.  My local craft store periodically has sharpening events.  I knew my blades were in need of a good sharpening and right before the holiday seemed like the perfect time.  Sadly, they were experiencing a power outage so I won’t have freshly sharpened knives for Easter. 

Thank goodness for spiral cut ham!

Have you checked out our latest meal plans?  Why not get one and take the stress out of planning next week’s dinners.  They even come with grocery lists to make your shopping trip a breeze!

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