Keep Them Sharp

Whether you are a young apprentice cook, a master chef, or an “at home cook”; nothing is more important than making sure your knives are sharp. No job or task can be done well in the kitchen when your knife has the cutting capability of a plastic spoon. Cutting is a very crucial step in cooking, it should be precise and accurate, which allows for even cooking and the desired outcome of a product. This is best done with a knife that is sharpened and maintained regularly.

Not only will a sharp knife allow for any cook to cut through prep work: quicker, faster and more accurately, it is safer. A dull knife is something more than the elephant in the kitchen, it’s a potential hazard. Any cutting task for any level of chef or cook becomes challenging when a dull knife is the only tool available. Dull knives tend to slip and slide off of objects you are trying to cut. If your hands happen to be where your knife slips or slides to, well let’s just say it might not end in your favor.

This may sound confusing to some. A sharp knife with greater cutting capabilities, how is that less dangerous than a dull knife? When used properly following the claw technique and appropriate holding position, a sharp knife can be seen as it should be, an amazing tool. Sharp knives allow the cook or chef using it to use less force when cutting and easily slice through most objects. With dull knives, the cutter has to force applied pressure, which may interfere with appropriate holding and hand positioning, meaning higher risk for cuts and serious injuries.

Some readers may have trouble picturing what a sharp knife is, as many may feel the 8 inch chef’s knife they got from the grocery store 6 years ago is still as sharp as a razor. Don’t feel offended if that is you, just know that there are some simple indicators to note that your knife might be dull. Using vegetables such as green onions and tomatoes are great and simple items to test the sharpness of your knife. Remembering to have proper knife handling and hand positioning, slice through a tomato or green onion as thin as possible using minimal force. Do you need much force to even slice through this vegetable? Do you have to do a saw motion as if you’re cutting the branch off a healthy oak tree? Are you cuts separated, or do they all stay somewhat connected? If you find yourself saying yes to any of these questions, your knife is in need of some tender, love and sharpening.

“Well that’s great but how am I going to do that?” You might be asking, which is completely normal as you may have never considered the thought before. I would not suggest asking the gentlemen driving down your street at 5km an hour ringing a bell advertising lawnmower sharpening, this is your knife; you will want a professional. Going to a kitchen equipment supply store is a great start, as some will offer sharpening or provide the tools such as wet stones. They can provide you with the appropriate tools and advice needed to maintain your knife and its sharpness, at affordable prices. Some restaurants offer sharpening either from the chef or sharpening supplier. A quick look under your yellow pages or Google can quickly find you your best choice.

Remember the importance and benefits of a sharp knife. Regularly check the sharpness of your knife when possible. A sharper knife will make things better and safer when you’re cooking!