There is hardly anything worse for a cook than a dull kitchen knife. Knives like any other thing in the world, age, and with time, the edges start dulling through extensive use. Dull knives are much harder to work with as they require more pressure to cut. Also, if you’re working with a dull knife, your finished cutting isn’t going to be pretty either.
A lot of amateur cooks can’t figure out when their blades are dull. The basic idea is that if you feel your knives are dull, they are. You will need to sharpen your knives at least twice a year, even if you only use it at home. There are various methods for sharpening your knives, and there is no hard and fast rule about what you should do. However, some methods are easier and beneficial than others. We have enlisted some of the methods and their how-to’s, so you will have an easier time sharpening your tools.
Use Sharpening Steel
Use sharpening steel frequently to protect your blades from degrading. Lots of knife sets available on the market also include sharpening steel as part of the set. You can also purchase these in your local hardware store. The simple rule is, the more you pay for it, the better it is.
They aren’t normally used to resurrect a complete dead blade, dead meaning extremely dull. However, it’s best to use them regularly. Use sharpening steels to keep knives sharp between uses. This will prolong the lifespan of your knife, and delay the time for when you’ll need to use a whetstone, diamond or an electric sharpener. Keep in mind that sharpening steel will merely massage the small indentations and nicks, and remove the flat spots. While this can’t revive completely dull blades, it won’t eat away the metal on your blades, unlike other processes.
It’s fairly simple to apply this method. Just maintain an angle of 20 degrees and rub your knife across the bottom half of the rod in a sweeping motion.
Generally used sharpening stones are whetstones and diamonds. This is one of the oldest and efficient methods to date. It won’t take away much metal, although more than using a sharpening steel. You will be able to completely sharpen a dull knife with this method.
Just grind the blade onto the stone from the tip to the bolster. Apply firm, constant pressure while doing so. After a while you’ll be forming a rhythm of a sort. Keep grinding in the same manner until you have sharpened the edge, turn it on the other side, and repeat the grinding.
It’s most likely that there is going to be some irregularities on the sharpened edge. You can even it out with the use of sharpening steel.
Using an electric sharpener is the easiest option that takes the least amount of time. As the term suggests, you plug it in and place the knife carefully on the machine until it’s sharpened. Although effective, this process will take away lots of material from your edge. This might throw the knife out of balance, which will render effective cutting impossible. If you don’t mind changing your knife set every few years, then this method won’t hurt you. Still, there are better options.
Ceramic Coffee Mug
If you don’t have access to any fancy equipment, you can always use your coffee mug, not just any cup though, it must be ceramic. Ceramic used in a coffee mug can act as a surprisingly effective sharpening tool.
Turn the coffee mug upside down. Take one side of the knife and run it on the coffee mug in a sweeping motion. Repeat the process on the other side. Because of high effectiveness of the ceramic, numerous manufacturers have used the material to produce sharpening steel. It’s best to use other materials rather than the coffee mug, to avoid damaging the mug. You can use sharpening steel to even out the edges, once sharpening is complete.
If none of the aforementioned tips mean anything to you, or you simply cannot manage time, just send it out to a professional. Sending your knives to a professional knife sharpener means you’ll definitely get the job done, but, you will need to constantly send it for servicing quite a few times a year, and it can be expensive.
Don’t ever run your finger on the recently sharpened edge, or any knife edge for that matter, to test its sharpness.