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tip Keep your blade sharp with these tips



Tips and Techniques


Chefs carry their own knives with them just like a carpenter totes his tools, in a bundle called a knife roll.

"Having a good knife adds to your enjoyment in the kitchen because it makes every task easier," explains FoodFit Executive Chef Bonnie Moore. "If you don't have one, your life is miserable and if you don't have a sharp one, your life is still miserable."

Knives rank up there with pots and pans as the most important kitchen gear. Unless you're hearing wedding bells (and planning to register for a set) buying knives can seem like an expensive proposition. It doesn't have to be. We've whittled it down to three key blades. Remember, it's a purchase that if cared for properly, will last you a lifetime.

The Cutting Edge

  A chef's knife. Typically six to 10 inches long with a wide, slightly curving blade, this knife is excellent for chopping. The best of the bunch have a bolster or a thickening of the blade at the handle to give the knife weight and keep your hands from slipping onto the sharp edge.

A serrated knife.
This miniature saw is ideal for cutting bread or any other food that has a firm crust or skin and a soft inside. Bread knives are usually about eight inches long. If you're just beginning your knife collection perhaps start out with a shorter blade, it's more versatile.

  A paring knife. This small, easy to handle knife is excellent for peeling fruits and vegetables and chopping herbs. Paring knives are usually about three to four inches long.

Icing on the Cake

If you haven't broken the bank then add kitchen scissors to the list. You'll use them a dozen times a day. Also important is a steel — a sword shaped tool used to hone or straighten knife blades — and a whetstone to sharpen them.

Gold Metal

Opt for high-carbon stainless steel knives because they're non- reactive and fairly easy to sharpen. Before they came on the market, carbon steel knives were the chef's choice but they are prone to stains and rust unless dried completely after using. Plus, they discolor certain foods.

Make sure you choose a knife that feels comfortable in your grip. You'll never enjoy using it if it feels unwieldy.

Stay Sharp

A blunt knife is more dangerous than a sharp one. The best thing to use to sharpen a dull blade is a whetstone, which is a dense grained stone. To use, place the heel of the blade against the whetstone at a 20-degree angle, press down and push the knife from heel to tip across the stone as if you're shaving off a thin slice. Repeat the motion, alternating sides, until the knife is sharp. Use a steel to hone the blade after and between sharpenings.

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Knife Dos and Don'ts

  • Always use a cutting board.
  • Always cut away from yourself.
  • Never try to catch a falling knife. Step back and fetch it once it lands.
  • Never put knives in the dishwasher. The heat and the harsh chemicals can damage them. Likewise, they can get damaged bumping up against plates, pots, or other utensils.
  • For longer lasting knives, hand wash and dry thoroughly right after using.
  • Don't store your knives unsheathed in a kitchen drawer. It's unsafe and the edge could get damaged.


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