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No matter what you like to cook daily, most people use a knife in some form, whether a carving knife, Santoku knife or cheese knife. But what many home cooks perhaps don’t realise, or at least forget about, is that their knives would be much more efficient if they took the time to use a knife sharpener. You don’t need to fork hundreds of dollars on an industrial knife sharpener to sharpen your knives like a pro. You just need to use the proper technique.
At Briscoes, we stock a wide range of knives and knife accessories, including knife blocks and, of course, knife sharpeners. Whether you have the best kitchen knives or some of the lower price kitchen knives in NZ, the sharper they are, the better they’ll perform. In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know to sharpen your knives like an expert. Here’s what we’ll cover:
Let’s cut to the chase!
We’re sorry to say it, but there’s no set amount of time when it comes to how regularly you should sharpen your kitchen knives with a knife sharpener. So, unfortunately, you can’t simply put a reminder in your calendar to include it in your regular chores. In saying that, you’ll generally want to sharpen your knives at least once every few weeks. Whether a Japanese kitchen knife, carving knife or chef’s knife, it really comes down to how often you use them and how well you look after them. Professional cooks tend to sharpen their kitchen knives more often or even hire a professional sharpener once every few years (yes, that’s a thing!)
So, if you can’t put a time on how often you should be sharpening your knives, how do you know when to pull out your knife sharpener? Thankfully, there are many signs that will inform you when it’s time for a sharpen. Don’t worry, they’re all really obvious!
When we say smashing food, we don’t so much mean your food explodes in all directions when you cut into it with your blunt knife. Instead, we mean that your knife doesn’t slice cleanly, but smashes cells in your food. Many fantastic recipes require clean and sharp cuts, whether for aesthetics, texture and flavour distribution in a dish. Cutting something soft like a ripe tomato is a great test for this - is your slice clean and sharp, or does the skin of the fruit look a little mushed or dented when you cut it?
Have you ever gone to cut into an onion, only for it to slide down the curve of the vegetable? If you have, chances are your chef’s knife or Santoku knife needs sharpening with a knife sharpener. Whether an onion for a fantastic slow cooker recipe or melon as part of a delightful dessert, a knife sliding can be dangerous and cut your skin.
There are many different knife sharpness tests. Each of them are great for checking how sharp your knife is before accidentally ruining your food. A common test includes:
Simply hold a sheet of paper up and try to cut through it with your knife. Whether a carving knife or even a steak knife, it should slice through it easily. Otherwise, it needs a sharpen.
Cutting veggies with a chef’s knife or cheese with a cheese knife shouldn’t be hard work. You shouldn’t work up a sweat, and your elbow certainly shouldn’t be in pain. If it feels like you need to apply too much pressure to use your best kitchen knives, they need probably need a sharpen. Or, you’re not using the right knife to start with.