3 sharp tips on knives

08/19/2014 8:00 PM

08/19/2014 9:59 AM

Last week, I wrote a story about how to become a better home cook by improving your knife skills.

Gary Gordon, who owns A Finer Edge knife-sharpening service in Charlotte, followed up with an email with more knife advice. Some of his wisdom was so good that I have to share it. Here are a few gems from Gordon’s email:

Hard steel vs. soft steel

Steel is the best material for knives. To see if a knife is made of a reasonable grade of steel, lightly hold it in your hand and very gently tap the knife tip on a hard surface. If you hear a ringing sound, it is a harder steel and will hold an edge better. If you hear no sound, it is a softer steel and will lose an edge more quickly.

How to store knives

If you store knives in a block with vertical slots, turn the edges up. Gordon notes that blocks with vertical slots will always have little grooves in the bottom where the knife is slicing the wood and putting pressure on the edge. He recommends turning the knife edge up to preserve its sharpness.

If you store knives loose in a drawer, wrap them in a kitchen towel or in a cardboard sheath, made from an empty cereal box, to protect the edges.

If you store knives on a magnetic bar, always place the back of the blade on the magnets first, then rotate the blade to stick it to the magnets. This prevents the knife edge from being pulled to the magnets first and banging against the steel.

The best way to store knives is in a knife block with horizontal slots.

Best cutting boards

Gordon doesn’t recommend bamboo boards, which will splinter after a lot of use, or nylon cutting boards, which can be harder on a knife edge than wood.

He recommends cutting sheets, which are very flexible, thicker than a piece of paper, inexpensive and will last for a couple of years.

Wood, Gordon noted, is still the best for cutting boards and can be easily and thoroughly cleaned with hot, soapy water. He suggests rubbing the board with mineral oil every month or so to keep it from drying out.

Another place to get knives sharpened

The Triangle has another location for getting your knives sharpened: Whisk in Cary offers next-day service for sharpening knives and scissors. Prices range from $3.75 to $7.75. Info: Waverly Place Shopping Center, 316 Colonades Way, Suite 214, Cary, 919-322-2458, whiskcarolina.com.

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