A spent a number of my younger years working in kitchens and it has served me well. Everyone needs food and everyone should know how to shop for, grow and/or prepare food. If you love to cook you probably have some special kitchen tools that you use and cherish. Maybe a favored french or bread knife, a special hand juicer or a peeler? The simple things. When you find tools that you love, you hope that they will last forever, never wear out, get lost or stolen.
Good knives will last for decades with a little care. When I was working in kitchens the most common knives were made of carbon steel and had wooden handles. They were prone to rust and the handles were not that strong. Every cook or chef would carefully wash and dry their knives, roll them into clean kitchen towels and LOCK them up in their own lockers, or take them home, everyday! (I did the same with my egg pans, polishing them with salt and stacking them with cloths between.) Carbon steel was very easy to sharpen and would hold a nice edge. You could also keep their preferred shape as they aged and were sharpened hundreds, or thousands, of times. Now we have carbon stainless; the ease of sharpening on steel that does not rust and is stronger than regular carbon steel.
An old french knife will get shorter and the blade narrower if you keep the correct shape on the blade. Most of the wear on a french knife occurs on the blade within the first 4 inches of the handle. It is just the nature of the chopping and slicing motions that good cooks prefer that causes this. The photo to the left shows this clearly. The area near the heel is concave; it will not touch the surface of the cutting board. In order to sharpen a knife repeatedly and still keep the blade in the correct shape you have to use a stone or grinder. This is done by removing more and more of the blade that is NOT worn out, so the SHAPE of the blade, even when very old, will still be retained. Good cooks will actually spend more time removing steel from the area FURTHEST from the handle, the part that rarely gets used, than from the area that is used for chopping and slicing! This area is normally just resting or moving on the board, cutting nothing, so it does not wear.
Between major shapings of the blade, as mentioned above, you will sharpen a knife many times. In commercial kitchens knives may be sharpened many times a day. These quick touchups use either a ‘steel,’ a long bar of steel with a handle that is slightly abrasive, or a few licks on a fine whet stone.
I have recently ‘discovered’ a simple device that will sharpen any knife, even serrated knifes, with ease. This device will not take the place of the shaping chore, but will give ANY knife an actual razor edge in a few seconds. This device is the Accusharp Knife and Tool Sharpener Model 001. You just drag this device along the knife blade and in seconds the knife or tool is razor sharp, and I mean RAZOR SHARP! I have not been paid to say this and have no interest in how many of these are sold. It just plain works.
The photo below shows how the Accusharp is dragged across the blade of a knife. I will allow you to visit their web site, linked to above, to complete the demonstration. If you decide to stay at Highland Garden House B and B, I will be glad to demonstrate this device. If you are using MY knives in MY kitchen, be aware that they are all very sharp!
’til next time,
Highland Garden House B & B
501 E. Highland Ave.
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
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