Stay Sharp: How to Care for Your Knives So They Last

Anyone else out there drawn to only the most expensive, luxurious kitchen items? But because you don’t have it in the budget to drop $390 on a cast iron pot, you’re left to just dream of outfitting your kitchen in Aqua-enameled cookware?

And who hasn't been seduced by the knife wall in the specialty kitchen store? All those shiny, straight knives make my hands tingle with anticipation of all the fabulous chopping, slicing and mincing we could do together. If only they weren't $100+ a pop. Bottom line – I’m not going to have a block full of Wusthofs any time soon.

But that doesn't mean that I can’t have just as much fun chopping with my knives from IKEA or even freebies from Walmart.

Your knives are your most important and useful kitchen tools, so it’s a good idea to reevaluate how you’re caring for them in order to get a long life from each one, whether it was $5 or $95.

Some knife-care tips:

1) Hone your knife with a honing steel before every use. You've probably seen one of these before – one may have come with your knife set. This super awesome tool helps keep your knives at their peak condition, and using it will mean sharpening your knives less frequently. You see, the sharp part of a knife blade is, on a microscopic level, a lot like jagged teeth. When you use your knife, these tiny “teeth” are bent out and the knife becomes duller. A honing steel re-aligns the “teeth” into a straight, super-sharp edge.

2) Use a wooden or bamboo cutting board. These boards are easier on your knife, which means that the blade stays sharper longer.

3) Hand-wash your knives right after you use them. So that they stay their sharpest, knives should never be put in the dishwasher and shouldn't spend too much time in the sink getting jostled around by other dishes, which will dull or scratch the blade and possibly bend them or break their points. Plus, it’s pretty dangerous to reach into a sudsy sink with a knife somewhere in it. Hand-washing your knife might sound like a chore – but really, it should take you about 10 seconds to wash a knife, right? Better than losing a finger! :)

4) Put your knife away safely – this means out of reach of children and not in a drawer. Storing your knives in drawers is one of the worst things to do. The blade can get scratched, dulled and dented every time you open it. Plus, if it’s a crowded drawer, you run the risk of cutting yourself trying to dislodge a utensil. Use a knife block, or better yet, a magnetic knife strip on the wall. This gets your knives off the counter (counter space is super important to me living in an apartment), plus if you have kids, you can hang it high enough so that they can’t reach. These strips have super strong magnets and come in a variety of lengths. I have a 12 inch one that holds my four IKEA knives, my free paring knife that I got from a Walmart presentation randomly, and my one Wusthof knife that I used a whole birthday gift card to purchase.

You don’t have to have German precision-engineered knives with professional-grade steel – you can have a fantastic time in the kitchen with any knives as long as you take care of them, keep them sharp and of course, be careful!

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