Erin Doman on May 1, 2015 1 Comment The tools that you use in your kitchen are an important part of the cooking process. Your knives in particular see a lot of use. You use them for cutting meat, chopping vegetables and slicing your food into bite size pieces when you sit down to eat. If you notice that your ingredients are tearing before you can completely slice through them, it could be that your knife is too dull. Over time, the blades of your knives become dull from repeated use and require sharpening. Learning how to maintain a sharp knife requires a little bit of practice, but usually does not take up too much time. Here are seven easy ways to keep your kitchen knives sharp and ready for use. 1. Honing Rod If you bought a set of kitchen knives, it may have come with a honing rod. A honing rod–also referred to as a sharpening steel–is the long metal stick-like device that almost resembles a short sword. It assists in realigning the metal on your knife without removing a large amount of metal from the blade. To use the rod, you hold the knife in your dominant hand and the rod in your non-dominant hand. Elevate the rod tip above its handle. Keeping your fingers away from the blade, hold the knife at a 20 degree angle in relation to the rod. Moving your arm, hand and wrist, move the knife across the top of the rod from the knife heel to its tip. Repeat on the bottom of the rod on the other side of the knife blade. A pass across the top and bottom is called a revolution. You ought to do six to eight revolutions before using your knife. Go slowly at first until you get the motion down. The more you practice, the faster you are likely to get. Shop for Kitchen Knives and Shears Here 2. Whetstone A whetstone, also known as a diamond or sharpening stone, has two sides: a rough side and a finer side. To sharpen a knife, you start on the rough side and create a burr by slicing it opposite of how you would slice off a chunk of the stone. Grind the knife blade edge across the burr approximately half way through the blade. There are different grinding techniques. Just grind one side of the blade for a one-sided edge, or do both sides of the knife for a symmetrical grind. Once you are finished with the first part, turn the stone over to the finer side to smooth out the burrs created on the blade. Once it is smooth enough, alternate sides of your knife with every stroke. Your knife should then be ready for use. 3. Mug or Cup If you don’t have any equipment that is dedicated to sharpening knives, there are other ways to sharpen them with common kitchen items. You can use the bottom of a ceramic mug or cup to quickly sharpen your knife. Maintaining a steady angle of 20 degrees or so, slide the blade of your knife across the grit of the mug on both sides of the blade. If available to you, polish off the sharpening process with several revolutions with your honing rod, and you’re good to go. 4. Proper Technique If you don’t get the techniques for keeping you knives sharp right away, just remember that it takes time. The more you practice, the better you are likely to get. You also do not necessarily need to maintain an exact 20 degrees when sharpening your knives. The most important thing is to maintain the same angle for an accurate tip. You can make sure you are sharpening properly by noting how straight the line of your blade is once you think you’re done shaving it. Marks left on the air side are too shallow of an angle; marks on the blade side are too steep. 5. Cut on the Right Surfaces The surfaces that you choose to use for cutting directly affect the condition of your knives. You want to avoid hard or metal surfaces, such as stainless steel, granite and aluminum. On the other hand, cutting on wood, plastic or polyethylene is usually just fine. You are likely to be safe as long as you are using a cutting board made out of the proper materials. 6. Wash Them by Hand Many people throw their knives in the dishwasher without a second thought. While this might seem like a great way to get your knives properly clean, the barrage of heat, water and detergent across your blades dulls them quickly. Instead, take the time to thoroughly wash your knives by hand. Although it is good practice to sharpen your knives before each and every use, washing them by hand should help them to retain a sharper edge for longer periods of time. 7. Store Your Knife Properly In addition to throwing knives in the dishwasher, some homeowners also toss their good knives in with many other kitchen utensils. Your knives should have a dedicated storage spot all to themselves. You can dedicate a whole drawer just to your knives. Wooden blocks or knife blocks are also great places to store them, and can be useful for a whole set of knives and a honing rod. Commercial kitchens may use a magnetic board so that their knives are available for quick access. A magnetic board is not really recommended for homes with little children or pets, however. Take Care of Your Knives When you take the time to take care of your knives, then you are less likely to run into problems, such as when ingredients tear when you are trying to slice them. Knives are a very important part of kitchen prep. Like any other tool that you use around your home, you want to make sure they are in good condition in order to produce good results. When you keep your knives sharp, store them properly and use them on the appropriate surfaces, they are likely to last much longer. Remember, after sharpening your knife, quickly rinse it with water and dry it with a soft towel to remove any excess metal shavings. Enjoy the new found sharpness of your blades and see the result in your meal prep!