Once more for the cheap seats: General knife care instructions
March 11, 2020
Knives, Japanese ones especially, are fabulous precision tools that will bring great pleasure to your kitchen. They are not indestructible, multi-purpose tools. If you treat them with care and respect, they will last for years, if you are a destructive heathen with a penchant for punishing your tools, it will not work out well for you.
There are a basic set of rules that you should adhere to. If you come into store, we will discuss these with you at length alongside other tips and tricky to get the best from your knife. We also give you a little card as a reminder and which also gives you your first sharpen free of charge.
- ALWAYS CUT ON A WOOD OR PLASTIC CHOPPING BOARD: Because continually hitting the edge of your knife onto a hard surface will blunt it and risks chipping the edge. This should go without saying as glass chopping boards will not only blunt your knives but are also a complete abomination. Also try to avoid cutting directly on plates. If you are super keen, try a hi-soft chopping board (we sell these in store) or a hinoki board.
- RINSE AND DRY AFTER USE: If it is carbon steel, you don't want to keep it wet as this will risk rust developing. Keep a tea towel next to your board and just wipe off the knife from time to time. Don't be an animal, clean your knife.
- NEVER PUT IN THE DISHWASHER OR LEAVE TO SOAK: Putting knives in the dishwasher blunts them. Yes, chefs, this includes giving it to the KP to run through the pot wash. Don't do it! All you need to do is hold the knife tip down under the tap, rinse it off and dry it. Knives don't really get that dirty and you want to avoid water getting in and around the handle. Any soaking or dishwashering also damages the glues in the handle. This is the absolute unquestionable indisputable no no.
- AVOID TWISTING OR PRYING MOTIONS: If you put stress on a fine edge of a knife it will chip. This might not happen straightaway but the risk of damaging the knife is definitely there. Things to avoid include hacking into butternut squash, hitting into the stone of an avocado, chopping through a chicken carcass, or, god forbid, trying to open oysters. If in doubt, don't do it. Have a rubbish second rate cheap knife and do any gnarly jobs - where you are reliant on brute force rather than precision sharpness - with this. Steel doesn't just randomly fall apart or shatter but if you stress the edge it will eventually chip.
- CARBON STEEL WILL DEVELOP A PROTECTIVE PATINA AFTER USE. WIPE AFTER USE OR AFTER CUTTING ANYTHING ACIDIC TO AVOID RUST FORMING: a protective patina is a dark grey in colour. It is not orange. Rust is orange. As the patina develops, the surface will become less reactive and the knife easier to care for. If you have by accident allowed it to rust, don't worry, this can be removed.
- DO NOT SHARPEN ON A METAL STEEL: This should read, don't "TRY" to sharpen on a metal steel. Steels don't remove metal and sharpen knives, they just realign the edge. Don't go at one with your knife in a swashbuckling fashion, this is likely to chip the knife at worst and, at best, will remove the metal unevenly, therefore making it harden to sharpen. Steels should be used gently and sparingly, if you aren't sure what you are doing with one, don't!
- STORE IN BOX OR ON KNIFE RACK: As you might be gathering by now, knife against anything hard is potentially damaging. This includes letting it rattle round in your cutlery drawer. We also aren't big fans of concealed knife blocks as you don't really know where you are sticking it. You can't go wrong keeping it in its box or, if possible, a wall mounted knife rack with some sort of cushioning (rubber or wood).