Investing in a quality set of knives is a rite of passage for anyone with a passion for cooking, be they a professional chef or an avid home cook; each knife specially selected to fit your hand and suit your cooking style. While developing solid knife skills - the result of hours and hours of practise - is integral to both culinary success and safety, there's another critical tenet to responsible knife ownership: caring for your knives. Knowing how to properly use, hone, wash, dry and store your quality knives will ensure they remain effective for many, many years, as will choosing (and caring properly for) the right chopping boards. These simple tips will help you get the best out of your investment:
- Wash your knives straight after using with warm, soapy water. Leaving your knives sitting out unwashed after using them can encourage food to stick to them, making them more difficult to clean and increasing the risk of damage to the knife or injury to yourself.
- Dry your knives immediately after washing. Prolonged exposure to liquid can lead to discolouration and corrosion.
- Never put knives in the dishwasher. The combination of liquid, soap and heat can damage your knives.
- Remember to wash the handles too. Bacteria can easily build up on the handle after cutting raw meat.
- Store your knives on a magnetic strip, blade-up in a wooden knife block, or in a leather knife roll. Any contact your knife gets with other kitchen equipment in a drawer, or even blade-down in a knife block, will dull the blade quickly.
- Use the right knife for the job. A small utility knife helps you safely navigate intricate jobs (like peeling a tomato or deveining a prawn), while the shape of a chef's knife is perfect for rolling over a chopping board and slicing vegetables.
- Hone your knives regularly with a steel, up to once every 20 cuts (depending on what you're chopping). This realigns the blade and reduces the need to get your knives professionally sharpened.
- Choose chopping boards made of softer woods as these will help keep your knives sharp. Harder wooden boards should be reserved for serving. Never use your knives on metal trays or ceramic pates.
Oil your chopping boards regularly (we love orange oil) to keep them hydrated.
- Wash your boards with warm soapy water and dry immediately. Never submerge your boards in water or put them away damp as this will encourage bacteria growth.
- Secure your chopping board before you start cutting by laying a clean tea towel or kitchen wipe between it and the bench top.
- Take your knives to be professionally sharpened and repaired as soon as a chip appears to prevent it from getting bigger.
The Essential Ingredient stores stock a wide range of professional-grade knives, as well as chopping boards, honing steels, knife blocks and other essential kitchen accessories. Some stores also offer regular knife sharpening and repair services. Contact your nearest store for more information.