Purchasing a high-quality chef’s knife is a big step toward improving your cooking game—but that’s just the start. You also need to maintain your tools to get the most out of them. A dull, expensive knife can be harder (and more dangerous) to use than a sharp, cheap one. If you can’t remember the last time you sharpened your kitchen knives, you’re probably not taking proper care of them.
According to Southern Living, knives usually need to be sharpened once every two weeks. If you don’t cook that often and you rarely draw your knives from their block, you can get away with neglecting them for longer periods. Knives that are used on a regular basis, however, wear down faster and require regular maintenance. For a clearer indication that your utensil needs attention, try the paper test. A sharp knife should easily slice through a sheet of paper you’re holding in the air. Knives that fail this test need to be sharpened. A dull blade will also have harder time cutting through soft fruits like tomatoes—it may end up crushing them instead.
A well-cared-for cutting implement is good for more than precise slicing and dicing. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, a sharper knife is a safer knife. It takes more effort to cut through a potato when you’re working with a blunt knife, and with that added exertion, dull blades are more likely to slip off the food you’re preparing and nick your hand instead. Sharp knives sink into ingredients with ease, making them easier to control.
To keep your tools in pristine shape, invest in a honing rod. Rather than shaving metal away from your knife, honing sharpens the blade by moving its worn, misaligned teeth back into place. You can hone your knives every few weeks by holding the rod at a 90° angle against your counter and sliding the blade down the length of it, keeping the angle of the knife close to the rod. True sharpening—which creates a new edge through hard polishing—only needs to happen every 1 to 2 years, and it should be done by a professional, unless you have the proper tools and knowledge.
[h/t Southern Living]