Stop chipping and dulling your knife's edge. Here's how.
In a recent edition, we discussed foods and materials to avoid, to help us keep our knives in great condition. As a refresher, we talked about bones, frozen foods, and champagne bottles. In this edition, we’re going to teach you how to use your knife cutting board, and other tools properly, so your edge lasts longer.
There are a few basic principles:
- When cutting foods, don’t use too much force while chopping
- Make sure you're using a sharp knife
- Support from your non-dominant hand when mincing herbs, should not be too aggressive
- Don’t scrape and scoop with your knife’s edge
- Avoid really hard and dense foods, like bones, squash, and frozen items
Let’s dive into detail.
Stop cutting so aggressively
With a thin, sharp knife, use less force.
Less is More, at least when it comes to Force: Using aggressive chopping or rocking force when cutting is a bad habit many cooks develop. This often comes about due to repeated use of dull knives with soft Rockwell steels. We always remind our customers that geometry cuts. This is a fancy way of saying that a knife that is thick behind the edge (cuts poorly), that hasn’t been sharpened for an extensive period will require the cook wielding the blade to use large amounts of pressure to get through foods. This is dangerous! Slips can happen quite easily. It’s not just a safety concern, as it builds the bad habit of using far too much force when you finally do have a razor-sharp blade, like the Artisan Revere chef’s knife. With a thin, sharp knife, use less force.
Mincing herbs with a support hand: When cutting most foods, you want your dominant hand holding the knife by the handle. The grip should be about medium handshake firmness—not so firm that you’re about to break the knife handle in half, and not so loose that you have no control. A pinch grip is best for most cuts, though there are plenty of times for a pointing grip. If you’re mincing herbs, and you’re placing your support hand on the spine of the blade, remember it’s only there to help you control the knife, and not to pry the cutting board apart. Keep these cuts nice and easy.
Don't scrape with your knife's edge
Scraping and scooping: We often see professionals and home cooks with a bit of training follow this pattern: cut, scrape the food into their waiting support hand with the knife’s edge, then scoop it, and place it in a bowl or the skillet. If you must scrape with your knife, we recommend never using the cutting edge because it will rapidly dull your blade. Knives are made to withstand up and down force, not lateral force. In other words, it’s made to chop and dice, not to scrape and scoop. Think about how little steel there is at the edge! So, instead of using your knife’s edge, flip the knife and scrape with the spine. Alternatively, you can spend about $10 and purchase a steel or plastic bench scraper to move your cut up foods to their next location.
Use the right tool for the job.
No bones, frozen or super dense foods: As we discussed in a prior post, here, you should never use your primary kitchen knives to cut through bone or frozen foods. Instead, use a heavy duty butcher knife or cleaver if you absolutely must cut bone. Otherwise you risk, and very nearly guarantee, large chips in your knife edge. Dense foods, like squash and coconut should not be broken down by a thin-edged blade. For frozen foods, please defrost! This is to protect your hands from deep gashes and also to ensure you don’t chip or bend your knife. If you don’t defrost, you’re likely to bend or snap your blade.
The best ways to defrost are:
- In the refrigerator, overnight. This is the best method. Can’t defrost overnight? Try #2 or #3.
- For sealed bags of food, and especially for animal proteins, place the bag into a large bowl with cold water and replace the water every 15-30 minutes. Good for chicken, beef, fish, shrimp, etc.
- At room temperature for non-animal proteins, like bread and fruit.
That’s it for this installment on keeping your knives sharper for longer. We hope you enjoyed it, and learned something new. If you’re ready to upgrade your knives, join us, as we improve the quality of knives across America.