Thursday, February 16, 2006

Tip: Hone that blade . . .

Every time you sharpen a knife, you remove some of the metal from the blade. Eventually, there’s nothing left. That’s why you only want to sharpen your blades a couple of times a year.

So how do you keep them sharp in between? Honing, m’dear, honing . . .

You see, each time you use a knife, you mangle the edge. It gets all bent and twisted out of shape. No. You can’t see it, not even with a magnifying glass. We’re talking microns here. But all it takes is one or two gentle strokes across your “sharpening steel” (which better be steel, but certainly is not sharpening) or ceramic rod to put your blade edge back into shape.

Steel & Ceramic Sharpening Rods (Honers)

Those strokes straighten out all the bends and twists from the last time you used the knife, and put the edge of the blade back into ‘just sharpened’ shape, while removing little or no metal from the blade.

And you don’t need to spend a bundle on fancy pearl-studded, leather handled, diamond encrusted honers, either. There was probably a sharpening steel in that first knife set you ever bought, or one that someone gave you once. Go find it and bring it back to the kitchen. If not, check out the Internet. I found ceramic rods online for about $4.00 each a few years ago and bought three of them – probably last the rest of my life.

Ceramic Sharpening Rod

Now, the ceramic rods are usually harder than the steel of the blade you are honing, so you will remove a few molecules of metal each time, but it’s a tiny amount compared to grinding a new edge. Tiny amount or not, though, you’ll want to wet the rod before use (so the metal won’t ‘clog the pores’ of the ceramic as much) and give both the rod and the blade a quick rinse after honing. (When your ceramic rod gets too clogged, give it a good scrub in hot soapy water!) Since a steel rod is just about the same hardness as the blade, any metal loss is negligible.

And, if you can’t find a sharpening steel around the house, and you don’t want to spend any money at all, find an old dinner plate (Corelle if possible) or some broken piece of ceramic pottery and use that. It may be a little more awkward to hold than a ‘formal’ honer, but it will do the job just as well!

So make it a habit. Reach for a knife, reach for the honer at the same time. Since a dull knife is a dangerous knife, keep your kitchen safe and hone those blades . . .

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