How to Keep Your Knives Sharp
Maintaining good, sharp knives in your food truck kitchen is a vital part of creating delicious food for your customers. A sharp knife provides it’s wielder with much better efficiency and more precise cuts, where dull knifes are more erratic and can lead to sliced fingers.
Many people get confused about how to care for their knives and can, consequently, do more harm than good.
The first step is to understand the difference between honing and sharpening a knife. Do you own one of those long, metal sword looking things most people call a “knife sharpener”? Well, that’s actually not a knife sharpener. It’s called a knife steel and it’s used to hone your knife. While a well-honed knife keeps your knife blade sharp, it does not actually sharpen your knife. What it does is, if used properly, adjusts your knife’s blade back to the way it was originally molded (at about a 20-degree angle). Plus, it removes metal spurs and bits of food from the knife to maintain a nice, sharp edge.
Honing: To maintain a well-honed and sharp knife, it is recommended to use a knife steel after each use of your knife.
- Hold your knife steel in one hand so that it is pointing away from you.
- Place the heel of the knife, which is the end that is closest to the handle, flush against the steel rod. The tip should point out at a 20-degree angle. To find a 20-degree angle, think about a 90-degree angle and then halve that, then halve that again.
- Slowly glide the knife down, taking care to maintain that 20-degree angle and for the blade of the knife to slide from the heel to the tip. When you are finished with this motion, all parts of the knife blade should have touched the steel.
- Repeat this 8-10 times for each side of the knife’s edge.
- After both sides of the knife have been run on the steel, wipe each side of the knife to clean off the microscopic remnants left behind.
Sharpening: Sharpening your knife should only be done once every other month. Not sure if you need to sharpen your knives? Just try slicing through a single sheet of paper. If it cuts through easily, there’s still time. If not, it’s time to sharpen.
- Sharpening your knife professionally usually costs about $5-$20/knife
- If you want to sharpen your knives yourself, you will need to invest in a whetstone these can run from $50-$500.
As a general rule, if your knife can slice through a single sheet of paper, it doesn’t need to be sharpened.
- Never leave your sharp knives in the sink waiting to be washed. Instead, wash your knife in warm, soapy water, dry with a clean towel and put away right after use.
- Never put your good knives through the dishwasher.
- Use only wood, bamboo, epicurean or plastic cutting boards for your knives, as they don’t damage the blade like glass, granite or porcelain can.
- If using your knife to transfer cut food from a cutting board to a skillet or bowl, use the back of the knife, not the sharpened edge.