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Knife Sharpeners

02-Feb-2005

Knives have been on my mind one or way or another for the last several weeks.  I’ve signed up for the Sur la Table Knife Skills class; I’ve been shopping for a hollow-edge Santoku; there have been entries and discussions on some of the other blogs about knives; and I’ve recently just sharpened all my knives which I do every one to two months, depending on how much I’ve been cooking at home. 

I’ve always been pretty particular about having sharp knives.  It’s the one tool I often bring along to friends’ houses if I know that I’ll be helping in the kitchen and also know that sharp knives are not a priority for them.  Luckily for me my friends tolerate my quirkiness.  Although I prefer good knives, even an inexpensive knife is fine with me if it’s sharp. M has a barbecue every year and my "job" is to slice all the grilled meats and some veggies like portobellos.  She actually has good knives and keeps her knives in good shape but the week before the barbecue she makes sure she sharpens them for me.  She’s a very good to me! :-)

Every time I sharpen my knives I have to thank my Mom and Dad for a gift they gave me several years ago.  When I first received it I wasn’t sure how much I’d use it but decided to give it a try anyway.  And then I fell in love!  The gift was the Chef’s Choice 110 Professional Diamond Hone Sharpener.  This sharpener has 3 different stones with guides set to the perfect angle to make knife sharpening easy for even the most challenged. 

If it’s been some time since you last sharpened knives (if they are in bad shape) you start with the stone on the left which will actually prepare the old edge for sharpening.  Once you’ve used that stone, if you keep up on your knives you should only need the two stones to the right; one does the primary sharpening and the other does a final very fine edge.  You can then use the fine stone to hone your blades as you use them or I use my steel on a daily basis and then sharpen the knives about every month or two.  A couple of friends have the manual version of this sharpener and really like it, too. 

I think the biggest advantage of these sharpeners is that they keep your knives at the optimum angle as you sharpen.  With the electric sharpeners it takes a little getting used to – you should actually just lightly hold the knife as you sharpen it and let the machine pull it in at the proper angle (there are magnets that help with this but it’s a little freaky to feel them pull the knife the first time or two). 

No matter what tool or method you choose, keeping your knives sharp should be a priority.  You’ve all heard it before – sharp knives are safer than dull.  But, even more than that, sharp knives are just a pleasure to work with. 

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