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Inherited Sabatier knives - how to handle/clean/etc.?

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I just inherited 5 Sabatier knives from the 60s - one 12" carver, one paring knife, 2 utility knives and one chef's knife. I had them sharpened at Sur La Table and bought a recommended Wusthof sharpener to use with them. BUT - they have not been used in ages, and have some rust on them.

I know these are treasured and wonderful knives and I want to use them, but they need a good cleaning, and good future handling. Any advice you can provide would be much appreciated. Thanks.

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  1. Short of doing it yourself, I'd find a good, old school knife shop or indie knife sharpener in your area and have them serviced/cleaned. Once they clean them they'll be able to give care instructions. A chef/food pro or restaurant supply place might have some leads.

    1. When I used a carbon steel knife which was subject to rust etc. We would just scrub with a piece of steel wool and a bit of oil to take of the crud. Being diligent about careful drying is a good thing to do but sometimes you just get the rust from humidity etc. So try the steel wool and oil. Scrub with a good detergent afterwards and dry carefully.

      1. I have many old Sabatiers of the same vintage. The best way to clean them is with some scouring powder (Comet, e.g.) and an old wine cork. Use just a little water and make the cleanser into a paste, then rub with the cork. If you have a champagne cork, the mushroom shape is a little easier to hold. Restores the steel to almost like new.

        1. I join in stressing the importance of prompt drying. As for storage, instead of an expensive, space-filling block, I buy plastic knife guards at the hardware store and use them consistently, so the good knives go in the same drawer as the measuring spoons and the bench scraper etc.

          1. I can vouch for the wine cork trick ... didn't think it would work, but it did ... blew my mind.

            Working it back and forth thru a large onion helps as well. Something in the onion juice that works as a cleaning agent. You may wish to let it sit in the onion for an hour.

            (Tips courtesy of Linda Cobb's TALKING DIRTY WITH THE QUEEN OF CLEAN)

            1. IMO, the cleaning should only be done to remove the rust. The natural tarnish (which should not be mistaken for rust - just making sure you're on the same page) is a natural occurrence of the knife and actually should be there to help protect your food from the metallic taste often associated with high carbon steel.

              1. I have had a 10" Sabatier chef's knife, high carbon steel, for about 45 yrs" and the only way I know how to clean it is with Comet cleanser and white vinegar with a scouring pad. Be sure to wipe them dry after use to prevent them from rusting, but they will stain. Just repeat above cleaning to keep a shine on them from time to time