Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Sharp Knife Makes for a Sharp Cook!

My knife collection is one of the biggest treasures of my kitchen.  I prefer them any day over all the "specialty" gadgets that you can find for everything from pressing garlic to peeling a banana.  Not to belittle gadgets (I happen to be a junkie), but when it comes to the raw, get-down-to-business, "I'm really cooking!" energy and thrill that I love, there's nothing quite like my knives.  My sharpened knives, to be exact.

Caring for your knives should be viewed as an investment, after all most good ones will run you more than a few cents.  And the pay-off isn't short-lived.  Proper care of your knives can mean years of blissful cooking --and you can guess the results of improper care.  Keeping your blade aligned and sharp is what you want to maintain from the first use to the last.  With just a little attention to detail, it's easy to preserve one of your best cook's tools.

To help you in this quest, I've outlined some tried and true tips on knife care, along with a resource guide for professional care options. 


This one is short and sweet:  hand-wash knives only!  (And carefully, I might add.)  Dishwashers will certainly dull your blades and quickly destroy your knives.  Also be sure to dry them thoroughly after cleaning and store in a butcher block or casing which will protect the blades between uses. 

Most knives bought as a set will include a honing steel.  If you don't own one, however, it's worth the investment.  It's recommended to hone your knives following each use to keep the blade aligned  between professional sharpenings.

Professional Sharpening: 
About once a year (for the active home cook), you'll want to have your knives professionally sharpened to ensure optimal alignment and sharpness.  To get you on your way, I've highlighted a few Atlanta area vendors that will sharpen your knives.  Outside of the Atlanta area, check with similar establishments for service options. 

1.  Williams-Sonoma - WHERE & WHEN: Phipps Plaza, Lenox Square and Northpoint; for all other locations call in advance to verify.  Drop off knives in time for sharpening on Mondays.  Same day pick-up is usually available; COST: Prices vary but usually range between $4-$8/knife, depending on length and dullness of blade.  

2.  The Cook's Warehouse - WHERE & WHEN: Midtown- Tuesdays & Thursdays, Decatur-Wednesdays, and Brookhaven- Fridays; COST: $4.50/straight edge, $6.00/serrated edge, also will do kitchen scissors/shears.  Drop off in advance on or before the designated day for same day pick-up.  A store clerk will call to confirm when knives are ready and they can be held securely at the store if immediate pick-up is not an option.

3.  Sur La Table - WHERE & WHEN:  Perimeter Mall, Upper Level, drop-offs accepted any day of the week, however they must be left with the store for at least one day before available for pick-up; COST: $1/inch.


With these tips and resources in hand, now all that's left to do is to get to cooking! 

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