How do you sharpen your knives properly?
When you're passionate about cooking and you like to have good tools to work with, you know how important it is to have top-quality knives.
But having top-of-the-range kitchen knives isn't enough to cook like a chef. Actually one of the most important stages in the life of such tools is their maintenance, and in particular their sharpening.
Sharpening a professional kitchen knife is essential if you want to enjoy impeccable cutting quality every time. Ignoring this step will result in tools with a poor cutting edge and the need to exert extra effort in use.
Here's some information to help you avoid these problems and get the best out of your kitchen knives.
What is the difference between sharpening and honing?
In common parlance, it's not uncommon to confuse "sharpening" with "honing". However, these are two distinct stages in the complete maintenance process of a professional kitchen knife.
Honing a knife is done with a tool called a honing steel, after taking care to carry out the sharpening stage. The purpose of the honing steel is to recreate a high-performance edge on a knife that no longer produces the expected effects.
The knife is honed after sharpening. This stage is carried out on a grinding wheel and removes the worn shank from the blade. This is followed by the grinding and polishing stages, which complete the maintenance of a knife's edge.
What tools should I use to sharpen a knife?
When you want to sharpen a professional kitchen knife, you need the right tools. There are several of them, each of which enables one of the stages mentioned in the previous point to be completed.
To sharpen a knife, you'll need:
- A honing steel of the right size and shape (sharpening and honing).
- A grinding wheel (sharpening).
- A leather strop (polishing)
These professional tools are easily accessible to home users who want to maintain and sharpen their own top-of-the-range kitchen knives at home.
How do you sharpen a knife with a honing steel?
To sharpen a knife, you need the right equipment, but you also need to know the technique to make precise, effective movements. Here's how to do it:
- Work with a clean knife and honing steel.
- Position the steel vertically on a work surface, pointing downwards and holding the handle firmly.
- Take the knife to be sharpened and position it at a slight angle to the steel. The blade on the top of the tool.
- Then follow a regular movement from the top to the bottom of the bit, at medium speed, maintaining appropriate pressure and always paying attention to the tip.
- Check the quality of the sharpening by using the knife.
It is also important to note that the frequency of sharpening varies from user to user. However, it is best to sharpen your knives at regular intervals. In fact, it is not advisable to wait until you realise that they no longer perform as well before resharpening them.
Which angle for which knife?
Sharpening a knife with a honing steel requires a certain amount of skill, which can be improved over time. To ensure that the action is effective, it is essential to keep to a certain sharpening angle. This varies according to the type of knife and the expertise of the user.
Here are a few practical tips for amateur chefs on how to sharpen their professional kitchen knives:
- Ordinary knife → 30°
- Chef's knife → 30°
- Slicing knife → 35°
- Paring knife → 35°
- Japanese knife → 20°
- Boning knife → 30°
- Fish knife → 40°
- Oyster knife → 60°
- Fish scissors → 50°
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