It might seem very simple, but a surprising amount of people don’t actually know how to properly sharpen a knife.
And if you don’t think that’s such a big deal, it is! Dull knives aren’t just less effective, but they can also be more dangerous because they’re more likely to slip out of your hands while you’re not using them.
Instead, a nice, sharp knife will glide through whatever you’re cooking with precision. We’re going to look at the main ways of sharpening your knives at home and how to use them.
Probably the tool that you’re most familiar with, sharpening steels don’t technically sharpen your knives.
Instead, they hone the edges of the blade, essentially pushing them back and realigning the blade.
It’s an important distinction to make and you can learn more about it in this article from Kitchen.
To use one, firmly plant the steel on a surface and hold the blade at a 15-degree angle, sweeping it down the steel with the tip pointing slightly upwards.
In truth though, sharpening steels aren’t going to solve a dull knife and more just a method of quick maintenance.
However, to truly sharpen your blade, you’ll need to use either a manual or electric sharpener which will actually remove metal from the blade and make it sharper.
An electric sharpener is probably the better option, with abrasives mounted on motorized wheels in slots.
All you need to do is pull the knife through the slots and the sharpener will do the rest. Make sure you don’t press the blade down too hard, as this could damage it and pull it through slowly and smoothly.
After about 20 strokes (this will vary), you can narrow your blade down by about five degrees.
Manual sharpeners are similar, although the abrasives aren’t motorized so you have to pull the knife through yourself.
Whetstones are one of the most effective ways of sharpening your kitchen knives, but they also take some true skill, so it’s definitely not recommended unless you’ve already had a bit of experience sharpening knives or unless you have quite a lot of patience!
A whetstone is a fine-grained stone which you draw the blade across to sharpen it. This means that you can hold the blade at the angle that you wish to sharpen it at, but like we said, it’s not easy for a novice.
For a quick guide on how to use a whetstone, check out this YouTube guide from YuppieChef.com, but it will take lots of practice.
Whichever method you choose, be sure to sharpen your knives regularly, as even the best ones will dull over time when they’re being used regularly.
Not only is a sharp knife much more effective, result in fine, even slices and chunks, it’s also a lot safer. It also beats buying a whole new set of knives too!
For more information on how best to look after your knives at home, check out this infographic from Kitchen Knives.