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Kitchen Tools & Techniques: Sharpening Knives

Today we’re learning one of the most basic skills, and that is how to sharpen a knife. I can tell you after years and years of being in professional kitchens what it’s like to cut yourself with a dull knife versus a sharp knife. Also how much easier it is to work with a sharp knife. So back to the blood and guts, cut yourself with a dull knife it takes forever to heal. It often needs stitches too. A nice sharp knife and you can put a band-aid on it and you’re good to go. I’m serious, from a health perspective, a sharp knife is a good thing to have. It also allows you to slide through food and make the whole process of cutting a lot more fun because we know it’s tedious but it has to get done.

 

So there’s a bunch of different tools that people use to sharpen knives. I’m going basic here, I sharpen my knives every day so I don’t need to get out of stone and really rework them on a monthly basis. So my favorite little tool (that is made by the manufacturer that makes the knives that I love this) is a [Wusthof Knife Sharpener] and it has two settings; one is coarse, and one is fine. What you simply do is you hold the handle of the knife l and first you run the knife through the coarse side. Then you finish it on the fine side. That’s all it takes, and this knife is super sharp. If I had a piece of paper the knife would slide right through it.

 

The other way people sharpen knives is with a great tool called a [Knife Rod]. It’s super easy to use, but you have to get your angle right. To sharpen the knife you need to be at a 10-degree angle from the tool to the knife, and then you just go back and forth. You need to keep the blade going, and takes a little practice I won’t lie. The most important thing is to keep your fingers out of the way.

 

The next thing we want to talk about is how to hold a knife. In this video, I am using an [8″¬† Wusthof French Knife]. I’ve had this for 40 years. I love these knives best because of the shape. The most important thing to do when it comes to holding a knife is to work with the balance of the knife. To do this I need to figure out what the center point is on the knife, and then I put my fingers a little bit ahead of it so that I can compensate. That way the balance of the knife is even and we’re going to use the weight of the knife to do the work of cutting.

 

A technique to know with using a knife safely is a system called a dumb hand. Your hand holding the knife is the dumb hand, the hand you use to guide the food you wish to cut is the smart hand. To guide the food to cut with the smart hand position your hand like you’re squeezing a tennis ball. So you will have your middle finger out front and your pointer and ring finger as the two guards on either side. These fingers are the ones that direct the food and sort of hold it together. The most important thing is to not let the knife blade leave the front of your middle finger knuckle so as you’re cutting the knife just stays away and you will never cut yourself. It’s a really good thing to practice, even with a tennis ball, so you can practice guiding the food.

 

Another technique I wanted to touch base on which is also really important is to learn how to cut an onion. I come from a line of cooks that buy frozen onions because they don’t want to deal with the tears that come with cutting onions. But in the professional world you better learn how to cut an onion and you better learn how to do it fast. What I’ve learned over the years that I want to share with you is effective, keeps the onion intact, and keeps the crying to a minimum too. First, you cut the front end of the oven off where the greenery shoots up. Then on the backside or the bottom that is the root part of the onion leave that root intact and just slice through the middle. Then spin the onion, and give it some side cuts, and you get diced onions with no tears, ready for frying.

 

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