Guide: Maintenance of Kitchen Knives


All blades will become dull after long use. Blade wear depends on steel quality, the blade use and its maintenance. This guide describes the correct use and maintenance of any kitchen knife to extend its lifespan and make sure you enjoy a sharp blade all the time.

REGULAR SHARPENING

We hear the phrase “A knife that is sharp is a safe knife” all the time, and there is a reason for that - The sharper the knife, the easier it is for our hand to follow its movement and prevent slips. A sharp knife won't damage the cells in our food, and ingredients will stay fresh longer while cooking and preserve more taste.

It's not a difficult task to sharpen a knife, and here at Choppn’ we are big supporters that a knife should be, and more importantly CAN BE, sharpened by everyone. We advise you to invest your time and learn the technique of sharpening – The initial investment is small but the returns over time are invaluable. It only requires some practice and you have nothing to lose as the knife can't really be damaged. Once you get a grip of things, it shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes to sharpen a knife.

Knife Sharpening

HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO SHARPEN MY KNIVES?

Short and simple: When you feel them losing their edge. Professional Chefs usually sharpen their knives every day at the end of their shift, but you don't have to go that far. We suggest the following:

Home Cook

1x / Month*

Amateur Chef

1x / Two Weeks*

Professional Chef

1x / Week*

* These are estimates that are rough. The frequency of knife sharpening is influenced by several factors:

  • Quality/hardness of steel. The longer a blade holds a sharp edge, the better the steel. The best knives range from about 60 to 67 HRC hardness range. These will remain sharp about 30 percent longer than "regular" Chef knives with 56-60 HRC hardness but will equally create a 30% bigger dent in your pocket. German or French knives with an average hardness of 52 - 56 HRC will lose their edge easier, and require more frequent attention.
  • Usage of a knife. Quite simply - the more you use your knife, the more frequently you will need to sharpen it. It will also help to learn proper cutting techniques. If the steel type and its hardness are not revealed by the knife manufacturer, then steel is very likely not to be the highest grade. Here at Choppn’ we make sure to state the hardness of all our knives.
  • Proper maintenance. Like any tool, regular maintenance, proper storage and correct use will extend the sharpness of your knives. Read the rest of this guide to learn the best ways to maintain your knives properly.

Other factors that influence the sharpening frequency are:

  • Cutting board surface / material,
  • Type of ingredients that we cut most frequently,
  • Our own cutting abilities.

Regular sharpening is much easier, faster, resulting in less removal of material compared to a knife that is only occasionally sharpened. The regularly sharpened knife will prevent excessive wear of the blade over time. With proper maintenance, high quality Chef Knives last a lifetime!

REGULAR BLADE STRAIGHTENING - HONING ROD!

Contrary to common belief, a honing rod is not used for sharpening, but for straightening it. It straightens the blade tip for microscopic realignment and to remove any blade deformation.

Imagine a piece of paper. You can cut yourself if you pass your finger across the edge of it - ouch paper-cuts suck. If you fold the paper, the edge is no longer straight (although as thin and sharp as before) and its harder for you to get cut. Likewise, the edge of the kitchen knife blade is straightened by a honing rod, making the blade straight and sharp. It takes about 10 seconds to straighten the blade. And as a rule the straighter the knives are, the better they cut.

You can know it is time to sharpen the knife with sharpening stones or whetstones once the honing rod does not improve blade sharpness. If the honing rod is used regularly, a blade will remain sharp for up to 10 times longer.

⚠️ There’s just one thing you need to be careful of before you buy a honing rod – you must buy the right one for your knife. Coarse cut rods are useless, usually those are the ones that are added to cheap kitchen sets. For our knives we recommend a Ceramic honing rod for that is fine cut and more affordable than diamond - coated rods. Unfortunately we do not have any currently, but we are looking hard to find some.

PROPER USE OF CHEF KNIVES

Asian knives (60 + HRC hardness) are made of very hard steel. This makes the blade very thin, ensuring long-lasting, fine sharpness. That's why Asian knives are also lighter in weight than other knives, the tradeoff is that they are more sensitive than cheaper steel knives.

Generally a Asian knife is not designed for:

  • Cutting bones or cheese (due to the structure of the cheese we need a lot of force to cut through it, and once the blade hits the cutting board with a large amount of force, it can chip)
  • Crusty bread (especially with home - baked bread where the crust can be burned slightly. The burned part consists mostly of carbon (C), a very hard element (basically diamonds!!) that damages the blade
  • Opening coconuts - its a knife not a machete
  • Let’s not even discuss being used as a bottle opener, hammer, screwdriver, etc.

USE OF THE CUTTING BOARD

Never cut on a countertop of marble, glass plate, ceramic baking tray, steel tray and other similar surfaces that are not designed for cutting. 

Another piece of advice when choosing a cutting board: you need at least two - one for raw meat and fish, and the other for vegetables and fruit.

GENTLE USE

A sharp knife cuts better, so you don't need much cutting force. The weight of the blade is nearly sufficient for certain ingredients, while others require some minimum pressure. We tend to be more precise when applying less force and at the same time avoid damaging our ingredients and reducing the likelihood of being cut. When you use your knife aggressively the knife strikes the cutting board repeatedly which will ultimately affect the sharpness of the blade.

SCRAPING

Usually we scrape the pieces off the board and into the pot using the kitchen knife blade when we cut vegetables on a cutting board. The blade's sharp edge is only a few microns thick and is designed to withstand relatively good vertical pressure. When scraping, the force is applied transversely on the board, which is harmful to the blade. Just turn the blade around and use the knife’s spine (top part) to scrape the vegetables off the cutting board.

HOW TO CLEAN A KITCHEN KNIFE?

Regardless of whether your knife is made of Damascus steel, stainless steel or any other material, regular cleaning is necessary. The blade will be damaged by leaving it dirty and wet in the sink for a long time.

⚠️ Do not use a kitchen knives washing dishwasher. Any kitchen knife is harmful to hot water, hot air, aggressive detergents and beating against other dishes.

During use, we suggest sometimes cleaning the knife with a cloth. It is easier and safer to work with a clean knife and after its use we can simply rinse it under warm water and gently rub it with a sponge and detergent for dishwashing if necessary. Then we dry it with a clean cloth and let it dry completely before we store it.

CORRECT STORAGE OF KITCHEN KNIVES

Kitchen knives should not be stored in drawers together with your cutlery and other kitchen utensils. The delicate blade will be damaged by moving around and rubbing against other utensils inside the drawer, and it is also dangerous as you can get cut while going through the drawer looking for something. We suggest storing your knives:

  • On a magnetic knife holder. This way even if you're not cooking, you can enjoy their beautiful design.
  • In a knife block / Knife Drawer insert
  • In a knife bag. If you've got a set of knives and you're carrying them a lot. 

Hopefully this maintenance guide has helped you out. Thanks for taking the time to read it, and don’t forget to check out our guide on How to choose the right Knife!

If you have any questions or need help, please contact us. The best way to do this is through our contact form or email (info@choppn.com). We will try to reply as soon as possible, but please allow up to 48 hours.

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