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How To Keep Chef Knife Sharp: 6 Expert-Recommended Tips

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As a highly versatile and common go-to knife, you need to know how to keep chef knife sharp, even if you’re just cooking for your family.

Using a knife with a dull blade would be your worst nightmare since it can cause hand fatigue due to the increased pressure required while slicing.

It will also mangle the ingredients or lead to uneven cuts that can affect the overall quality of the dish.

Fortunately, maintaining your chef knife blade’s sharpness isn’t rocket science.

How To Keep Chef Knife Sharp

By following these six tips, you can refrain from increasing your kitchen prep time and making it an unenjoyable experience.

With this, you can ensure you always have a sharp knife blade edge.

1. Hone Regularly

One of the things experts recommend to ensure your chef knives’ blades stay sharp is to hone them after every two to four uses or at least once a week.

That is why most knife sets come with a long stick, called a honing rod.

It’s made of either steel or ceramic that you can use conveniently to keep your blades at their best.

Contrary to popular belief, the tool won’t sharpen your blade.

Instead, it will help realign the blade’s microscopic teeth without removing an unreasonable amount of metal.

Of course, you also need to follow the correct honing technique, namely:

Step 1: Grip your honing steel’s handle with your non-dominant hand.

Step 2: Rest its tip on top of a flat, stable surface, like your table, so it stands vertically.

Step 3: Locate the textured part of the honing rod, as this is where you’ll run the knife blade. 

Step 4: Hold your chef knife with your dominant hand.

Step 5: Place your knife blade’s bottom against the hone’s top, ensuring you create a 15- to 20-degree angle.

Step 6: Pull the knife down until its tip, making sure you keep your fingers away from the blade and maintain a steady angle.

Step 7: Repeat the steps to hone the other side of the blade.

Step 8: Hone each side for about six to eight times.

Step 9: Carefully wipe the blade, and you’re ready to use it!

learn how to keep chef knife sharp

2. Always Use a Cutting Board

We understand; sometimes, we end up using our countertops, plates, and other flat or metal surfaces to cut ingredients.

The problem is, doing so will take a toll on your knife’s blade, affecting its sharpness and durability.

In truth, the best surfaces for slicing ingredients to maintain the blade’s sharpness are plastic, polyethylene, and wooden cutting boards.

Also, when choosing a cutting board, ensure the knife’s blade can’t cut through it easily for hygienic and blade quality maintenance purposes.

If you plan on purchasing wood boards, it would be best to go for those made of hardwood.

3. Hand Wash the Knife

Definitely, you’ll find a dishwasher-safe kitchen knife, but it’s always best to hand wash it after every use, even if it’s more time-consuming.

The heat in the dishwasher produces, together with the detergent’s abrasiveness, the barrage of heat, and the intense wash cycle process, can lead to quicker dulling of the blade.

Washing your knife manually is one of the best ways to keep a chef knife sharp for more extended periods of time.

The steps you need to take when hand washing your favorite knife are as follows:

Step 1: Lather a dishcloth or sponge with mild dishwashing soap.

Step 2: Wipe the blade from the base to the tip, keeping your fingers safe from the sharp blade.

Step 3: Rinse thoroughly with running water, ensuring the knife is low in the sink, and the blade is facing away from you.

Step 4: Wipe the entire knife with a dry dishcloth using vertical motions with the blade facing away from you.

4. Store Properly

Most home cooks will have utensils and knives in drawers since it’s the most convenient way to store them.

However, it is unsafe, and doing so can affect your knife blade’s sharpness and overall quality.

Some will keep their knives in a dedicated storage spot, like a specific kitchen cabinet drawer.

However, it can also chip the knife blade edge each time they bounce and hit each other.

If this is your only option or the most economical for you, it is advisable to add a drawer organizer or slip your knife into a blade guard or sheath before placing it in the drawer.

Nevertheless, take advantage of the wooden blocks included in most knife sets, as they can maintain the blade edge.

Still, the best way to store your chef knife to maintain its sharpness for a long period of time is to use a wall mounted magnetic wood knife rack or magnetic strip knife holder.

These items will help maintain a reasonable distance between the knives while also ensuring your children won’t reach them.

5. Sharpen the Blade Regularly

Ideally, you should have your chef knives sharpened by a professional every six to 12 months, depending on how often you use them.

You may also sharpen them at home, especially if you notice that they’re not sharp enough while using them and you don’t do consistent honing.

That’s why having a knife sharpener on hand is beneficial, and you have plenty of options, such as a whetstone and an electric sharpener.

You’ll also find knife holders with sharpening slots to ensure you have a sharp knife blade each time you dice and slice ingredients.

Apart from ensuring your chef knife gets sharpened regularly, you should also make sure that you follow the proper technique.

It’s actually no different than how to sharpen a Japanese knife.

In case you don’t have a sharpening tool yet, you can use the back of a ceramic plate or mug as an alternative.

Of course, the sharpening process is less effective and more time-consuming than when you use knife sharpening tools, but it’s better than not sharpening the blade at all.

To sharpen the blade using the back of a ceramic dinner plate or mug, here’s what you need to follow:

Step 1: At a 20-degree angle, slide your chef knife’s blade across the plate or mug’s grit multiple times.

Step 2: Repeat on the other side of the blade.

Step 3: Hone the knife, as discussed above.

6. Know When Not To Use Your Chef Knife

Yes, the chef knife is a versatile kitchen tool, but it also has its limits.

Make sure you don’t cut, slice, dice, and mince tough ingredients with your chef knife.

Otherwise, you’ll end up with a dull edge or worst, a poor-quality knife.

Hence, it’s always best to have several kinds of knives in your kitchen arsenal, such as a cleaver and paring knife.

Having a Sharp Chef Knife Every Time

Even high-quality chef’s knives and a brand-new knife will dull out after a few uses but will dull more quickly due to some common mistakes.

Use, wash, store, hone, and sharpen them properly and regularly to ensure they stay as sharp as you want them and for an extended time.

Invest in the right tools to maintain them and spare some time to take good care of them before, during, and after using your chef knife.

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