A few months ago I almost cut my finger off. Not the whole finger, just the tip, which is still an important part of my finger in my opinion! Fortunately I didn’t cut it off but it was a decent wound, with blood getting on the carrots… sorry, too graphic.
Let’s see, what do I want to cut?
Anyhow, while trying to bring the knife down lengthwise through the side of a rather thick carrot the knife jumped off the carrot onto my finger.
I dropped the knife and jumped back from the counter yelling. What caused the knife to jump off the carrot in the first place is also what prevented the cut from being too bad. The knife was extremely dull, which is generally more dangerous than the knife being sharp.
Thus it was clear that the knife needed a proper sharpening. I resolved then and there that the knife would get sharpened. Well, it turns out I’m the kind of person who needs more than one push to get something done.
The prompt this time was not an accident but an online knife skills lesson that had a strong emphasis on knife sharpness and quality. I had stumbled upon the video which is a free class from Craftsy, a website that offers courses about all sorts of home and hobby skills.
After viewing the lesson I did a bit of internet searching and found a few local sharpening options but it was the suggestion from various folks on a Waterloo Region food Facebook group that brought me to STOP Restaurant Supply. My youngest son and I took a trip way down to the east end of Victoria street, handed over our knife and browsed the store while it was sharpened.
When the knife was returned to us about 15 minutes later we were asked a few questions by the woman who had sharpened it.
One, had we tried to sharpen it ourselves? Yes, sort of, with a small tool sharpener intended for garden tools. The reason for the question was that the non-sharp part close to the hilt showed signs of attempted sharpening. Woops.
Two, did we allow water to sit on the knife? Um yes, we tend to wash it and then leave it to air dry. Why? Well there are the beginnings of rust on the end of the knife above the hilt. That surprised me since it’s a stainless steel blade! Still, our fault again.
Three, did I have something to wrap the knife in since I was about to walk back to my car carrying a baby? Uhhh, no, but it would be nice to have! She wrapped the knife with butcher paper (very fitting) and sent us on our way with a slightly concerned look.
One other thing I learned through this experience was that honing and sharpening are not the same thing. Many people—myself included—have knife steels in their kitchens. The purpose of the knife steel is to correct the alignment of a knife blade, but not to actually make it sharper, a process known as “honing.” Do you own something to hone your knife with?
Photo from Amazon.com
On a microscopic level the edge of the blade gets slightly bent, like the edge of a piece of paper being folded over. By running your blade down the steel you hopefully realign the edge of the blade, helping the knife return to its original sharp state. From what I’ve learned this should be done every time you use the knife!
Eventually after much use some of those folded edges of the blade can break and that is when it’s time to actually sharpen the knife, either with your own wet stone or professionally. If you think your knife isn’t sharp enough right now try the tomato test:
If you live in the KW area like I do you can even get your knife sharpened for free! Their normal sharpening fee is $1.25 per inch, thus $10 plus tax for my 8” chef’s knife. With this coupon—you can probably just open it on your phone—the sharpening is free! Don’t wait, just head down to STOP so you can sharpen your knife (or more accurately let them sharpen it). There, I did it, I managed to quote Hozier in a way that was relevant to a food blog.
I’ve been debating getting my own wet stone or just having the knife professionally sharpened every so often. If properly used a wet stone is a good investment since it pays for itself after about 3 or 4 sharpenings (based on these prices from amazon.com and amazon.ca). For now my plan is to wait and see how long the knife stays sharp, and hopefully be responsible about honing the blade and always properly cleaning and storing it (for storage magnetic racks are recommended by many chefs, and we love ours). If it dulls quickly I may invest in a stone, if it’s good for a couple years I’ll likely stick with the professional sharpeners.
With our newly sharpened knife we’ll be cooking up the following things to enjoy this week:
Monday. Paraguayan Polenta with Winter Squash (from La Gran Cocina Latina), Salad. Prep for Tuesday: soak 2 cups dry chickpeas. Since only about half of the winter squash is needed chop up and refrigerate the other half for Friday’s meal.
Wednesday. Roasted Root Veggies with Drizzly Hummus (a random idea that floated into my head recently), Popovers, Caesar Salad.
Thursday. Frozen Nasi Goreng, Salad.
Friday. Thai Red Curry Squash Soup, Bread.
Sharing at Menu Plan Monday: