Some questions about knives...

A journalist from a food publication got in touch with us to ask us some questions about knives. They were good questions so we thought we'd stick our answers here. All useful info...

How important is having a good knife?

Crucial. Why? You use it everyday; it is your primary piece of kit in the kitchen and makes cooking much more fun; putting my health and safety hat on, you are less likely to cut yourself with a sensibly-sized sharp knife; and there is no point buying beautiful ingredients if you are going to bruise and rip them when you could be slicing beautifully.

What do you say to people who are afraid of spending a lot of money on a knife?

You only really need one and - if you look after it - it should last a long long time. A santoku or gyuto shape is good for around 90% of kitchen tasks, so buy one good one and it will do pretty much everything you want it to in the kitchen. This is not to say that you won't want more, just that it isn't necessarily the best option to go for a set of five to start.

How often should you sharpen your knife?

Lots of variables: how much you use it; what you use it to cut; the type and quality of the steel. It is also better to take a "little and often" approach rather than letting it get really blunt so that it needs a lot of work. As a rule of thumb, we'd say that for home use, about every five months is good but it also depends on your own tolerance for sharpness.

Does the type of upkeep needed on a knife depend on what kind of knife it is?

Absolutely. Some knives are high maintenance, others are more workhorse. The main factors are the steel and the finish of the blade. Steels can be less or more reactive depending on the levels of carbon steel. Similarly the edge retention depends on the type of steel - tool steels and powder steels have excellent edge retention. For an entry level knife, you want to be going for a good quality stainless steel like ginsan or VG10. Many of the finishes are protective - like the kurouchi blackened finish.

What are some things you should NEVER do with a knife? (e.g. put it in a dishwasher)
Here are the rules:
- Never put it in a dishwasher - ruins the handle, melts the glue, and blunts it. 
- Always chop on a board (not bamboo or glass as they blunt it). 
- avoid stones, bones and woody things. Don't cut your sourdough with it. 
- Sharpen on a whetstone. Avoid grinding wheels, pull through sharpening devices, and metal steels.
- avoid twisting and prying motions as it stresses the edge
- also keep it on a wall rack or in the box - not rattling around in a cutlery drawer, point down, or in a knife block. 


Leave a comment