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How To Sharpen Knives

Do you want to make some soup? Or fruit salad? Or a veggie curry? You gather your ingredients, set your pan on the heat, and begin chopping away at those glorious fruits and veggies, only to discover your knife is dull as a brick. You get more fruit juice and veggie pulp on your cutting board than neatly cut produce, and you also are dealing with that nick on your finger from when your (very dull) knife slipped and cut you. It's super important you learn how to sharpen knives… 

How To Sharpen Knives 

Here’s the thing – if you want to be a proficient home cook, you need the right tools. Every craftsperson knows this, and working in the kitchen, making beautiful meals for you and your family to enjoy, is no different. A sturdy cutting board, some well-made pots, pans, and baking sheets, along with a few good knives, and you’re on your way. But eventually, those knives are going to become dull. What’s a discerning home cook to do? 

Sharpening Knives: The Solution  

The answer is to learn how to sharpen your knives at home. It’s not nearly as hard as you might imagine it could be. All you need is to identify your level of kitchen knowledge, frequency of home cooking, and then pick up a decent sharpening device. Which device? Well, read on. 

For The Novice – The Handheld 

Maybe you enjoy the occasional home-cooked meal each week, or throwing a simple dinner party for friends on Saturday night? Perhaps you’ve been waiting to learn more about cooking, and to try out some of those recipes you keep seeing on your Instagram stories? Let’s call you The Novice. My advice for you is to first get yourself a decent chef’s knife, and then learn how to sharpen it in the easiest way possible.  

Chef's Choice 4643 Pronto Pro Manual Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener NEW

If you want the simplest, most affordable device to sharpen a knife, then look no further than the Chef’s Choice 4634 Pronto Manual Sharpener. This is the easiest method to sharpen your knife, without learning any new technique or sharpening skills. You simply run your knife blade through the three-stage process, and voilà – you have a sharp knife once again.  Even better, this option also won’t break the bank.  

For The Serious Home Cook – It’s Electric 

So you cook multiple meals at home each week, and even work on the occasional weekend project (did someone say Sunday morning sausage rolls?). You take your cooking, and your kitchen skills, a little more seriously these days. You’re a Serious Home Cook. You need an option that is a little more sophisticated, and a little more precise, than The Handheld.   

Chef's Choice 1520 Diamond Hone Angle Select Electric Knife Sharpener

The Chef’s Choice 1520 Diamond Hone Angle Selective Electric Knife Sharpeneris the one you want. Just like The Handheld, this option doesn’t require any special skills or techniques to get a razor-sharp blade in a matter of minutes. Works like a charm, but it will set you back a pretty penny. If you’re hard on your knives though, it’s a worthy investment. 

For The Pro – The Japanese Whetstone 

You make your own Thai curry paste, ferment your own kimchi and sourdough starter, and you’ve even been eyeing that tiny fridge to devote to your personal cheese making hobby. Let’s face it, you’re a pro. And only the best will work for a pro, including how you sharpen your knives.  

King Japanese Grit 1000/6000 Combination Sharpening Stone KW-65 and Naniwa QX-0010 Blade Angle Guide: Bundle - 2 Items

If you’re serious about honing your blades so they can easily cut through a sheet of paper, you’ll need a Japanese style sharpening stone, also referred to as a whetstone. A whetstone is just like it sounds, a piece of grinding stone that you get wet, and then use to sharpen your blade. You do this by sliding the blade across the whetstone at a particular angle, usually 15-20 degrees, depending on the blade. Whetstones are precise and get your knives really sharp. It takes some work to learn how to sharpen consistently, but the payoff is a razor-sharp knife without any expensive equipment. Our favourite is from King.

Other Options 

One other classic, inexpensive option is a sharpening steel. These are affordable, but like the Whetstone, they take some work to get your angling just right. They are easy to store, which makes them a great option if you’re limited in space. Our favourite is the Wusthof 26cm Sharpening Steel.

Wusthof Hanging Sharpening Steel with Black Base, 26 cm

How To Sharpen Knives: Summing Up 

Cooking with sharp knives not only makes home cooking more enjoyable, but it also makes it safer. Sharp knives reduce slippage from your blade, which means less of a chance that you’ll cut yourself. Sounds like a win for everyone! So, whether you’re a Novice, a Serious Home Cook, or a Pro, get in the kitchen, sharpen those knives, and have fun. Cheers! 

David Rice
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