Knife Care and Storage Questions
I recently bought good knives for the first time (a japanese-style chef's and paring from Wusthof), and have a few questions.
1. Storage - what is a good way to store these things. I'm not sure if I can install magnetic strips (rented apartment), so I was wondering the best way for what will probably end up being a mixed set of knives. Space is an issue.
2. Honing - haven't bought a honing steel yet, but know I need to. Any brand suggestions or places to go (I live in l.a.).
3. Sharpening - worth buying something, or just wait and go to a professional?
4. Cleaning - I've just scrubbed the blades with soap and water, and kept them dry. Should I be doing anything more/less. I assume the dishwasher is out.
5. Any other care tips.
Congratulations! Good knives make a world of difference in cooking.
1. Don't get a block--the slots will just get dirty and make your knives dirty. I store mine in a tiny dedicated drawer lined with cork. You will be using them all the time so put them in a handy place.
2. Run out and get a steel this weekend, and learn to use it (if you get it at a good store they should be able to show you this). You will want to steel before and after every use, and during if you are doing a lot of chopping. I have a Henckels but I don't think brand is very important. Just make sure to get one that is at least as long as your longest knife.
3. If you steel properly and regularly, you will hardly ever need to sharpen. In the meantime you can get a stone, very cheap at an Asian market, and learn to use it.
4. You're right. Keep clean, especially while working with acidic foods, and dry right away. No dishwasher!
I know that sometimes a pointer to a repository of lots and lots of information can be overwhelming, but this site is really a treasure trove of knife knowledge, and has all kinds of articles from entry level to some very extensive and complex items.
If you go to the Articles page and look at some topics that look basic, you will find all the answers to your questions on care and particularly, sharpening.
One contributor, Joe Talmadge, does a particularly fine job of presenting very well organized and easily taught or learned-from articles. I linked directly to his FAQ on sharpening, but you should look around for other articles.
Another great resource is Korin - they're located in NYC. They have a DVD - an introductory lesson on sharpening Japanese steel. Here is a link to that:
Good luck with your new hobby - the pleasure you'll get from using great steel is absolutely worth the time you put into caring for them.
The best knife-storage solution I've ever had was a simple holder I attached to a countertop I'd made - it was just a strip of 1" x 1/2" x 18" hardwood, screwed into the back edge of the countertop with a 1/8" spacer at each end and one in the middle. The knives hung blade-down between the work surface and the wall. I have seen similar setups where the knife-holder is a slot cut into the back of a cabinet top, far enough back so as not to interfere with the drawers. I have no place to put such a thing now - I'm stuck with tile-topped built-ins and a lousy knife drawer with a slotted insert - but when the place gets remodelled it WILL happen.
Storage - I just make individual knife covers with cardboard and tape. Also makes the knives easy to transport.
Honing Steel - Check out the smooth (no grooves) honing steels on handamerican.com. Pretty much anything can be used to hone your knife, including your pots and pans.
To add to everyone else's tips/suggestions I'd like to add that I prefer using the flat wooden in-drawer knife block, very convenient and keeps your knives visually out of the way from children. It's also easy for me to make out which knife is which because you can see the full blade from top.
This is a personal view, but I do not like looking at knife blades exposed in the kitchen (as in the magnetic strips). It makes me feel like it throws my feng shui off, something about the pointy sharp edges & negative energy, go ahead call me kooky.
I do use a simple clear flat plastic knife tray (from Target, $1.99) as my drying "rack" for my knives that I handwash. I leave it by my dishrack and set my washed knives there to dry. They dry fairly quickly because I usually use very hot soapy water when washing them.
For travel, you can buy clear plastic knife protectors that snap close. Sorry can't remember which store had them in particular maybe SurLaTable.com? William Sonoma?
I think you're referring to LamsonSharps' Knife Safe.
As you say, good for transporting, but I find them too inconvenient for regular knife storage because it's too much work to release the two clasps.
You can get them at many kitchenware places.
Another storage option: if you're handy in the wood shop, you can just make a wooden sheath -- you just have to make sure you have a snug fit. You can also drill a hole in the sheath behind the knife heel and fit a wooden pintle to make it extra secure.
Very labour-intensive, so getting someone to custom-make one of these is very expensive.