Sharpening your kitchen knives is an essential skill for any home chef. Not only does it help your knives last longer and perform better, but it also makes food prep safer and more enjoyable. But with so many different methods and techniques out there, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.
Here are 5 tips for sharpening your kitchen knives like a pro:
- Choose the right sharpening tool: There are a variety of sharpening tools available, including whetstones, electric sharpeners, honing rods, and manual pull-through sharpeners. Each has its own pros and cons, so choose the one that best fits your needs and experience level. Whetstones are a popular choice among professionals because they allow for precise control and can sharpen a wide range of blade angles, but they do require some skill and practice to use effectively. Electric sharpeners are quick and easy, but they can be less precise and may not work as well on damaged or very dull blades. Honing rods are great for maintaining the edge on already sharp knives, but they won’t actually sharpen a dull blade. Manual pull-through sharpeners are a good option for those who are just starting out, as they are easy to use and relatively inexpensive.
- Understand blade angles: The angle of the blade plays a crucial role in the sharpness and performance of your knife. Most Western-style knives have a blade angle of around 20-22 degrees, while Japanese knives tend to have a much sharper angle of around 10-15 degrees. It’s important to sharpen your knife at the correct angle in order to get the best results. If you’re using a whetstone, you’ll need to carefully angle the blade against the stone. If you’re using an electric sharpener, make sure it’s set to the correct angle for your specific knife.
- Start with a coarse grit: When sharpening your knife, it’s important to start with a coarse grit in order to remove any nicks or burrs on the blade. Once those have been smoothed out, you can move on to a finer grit to polish the edge and create a finer, sharper edge. If you’re using a whetstone, you’ll need to switch between a coarse and fine grit stone as you sharpen. If you’re using an electric sharpener, it will typically have multiple stages with increasing grit levels.
- Follow a consistent pattern: When sharpening your knife, it’s important to follow a consistent pattern in order to get the best results. This means moving the blade across the sharpening tool in a consistent, back-and-forth motion. You’ll want to apply even pressure and make sure you’re covering the entire length of the blade. If you’re using a whetstone, you’ll need to move the blade across the stone in a figure-eight pattern, making sure to cover the entire blade on both sides. If you’re using an electric sharpener, you’ll simply need to draw the blade through the sharpening slots in a smooth, even motion.
- Know when to stop: It’s easy to get carried away when sharpening your knives, but it’s important to know when to stop. Over-sharpening can actually damage the blade and dull it more quickly over time. You’ll know you’re done sharpening when you can easily slice through a piece of paper or when the blade has a smooth, polished appearance. If you’re using a whetstone, you’ll need to feel for a burr on the back of the blade – this is a small ridge that forms when the blade is sharpened to a very fine edge. Once you feel the burr, you can switch