Knives (and sharpeners) are a bit of an eternal debate in cooking circles. I'm fortunate enough to get lots of knives across my countertop to test and I've probably put hundreds through their paces in my time. Just like cookware, I use a wide assortment of brands, sizes, and bevels with Wustof classics and Globals being featured because they fit *my* hand well. Your mileage may vary.
About the only absolute I've discovered was echoed by a previous post. Tests knives in your own hand, not based on reviews or hearsay. Hands (and knives) are all so different there's no way to match the two up virtually. What works for you could be wildly different than your BBQ mates next door. I've been known to take veg and a cutting board to the store and spend a few hours before the staff finally asks me to leave
. At minimum, make sure you have a return grace period on any you buy.
Keep them sharp using whatever device you prefer. Mine get a quick treatment every other day and a full re-bevel about once every month but to be fair, I might put a bit more use on them than usual. I've tested most of the 'manual' systems and while they do an excellent, possibly even better job, I seem to have better luck with the 'automatic' powered systems simply because I'm more likely to use them regularly. A Chef's Choice model sits on my counter 24x7. The Edge Pro is in a box...somewhere. I can 'freshen up' an edge everytime I grab an extra ripe tomato in about ten seconds and it makes a world of difference. Anyone that's ever 'seen the sharpening light' after waiting a bit too long will understand. If you have unusual angle requirements because of your Asian bevels, there are automatic versions of sharpeners out there for them too. You typically just have to order them in from (usually) Japan. Any number of the stores in Akihabara (tech town) will have them available for mail order internationally.
A decent "roll up" knife pouch is also a great investment in my mind if you ever move your knives from place to place (cooking at friends houses, camping, a long walk to the kamado, etc.) or even if you're a bit messy about getting them back into a block in the kitchen. Any local restaurant supply will have a canvas version for about $15 because they're standard issue to every class of culinary students that comes along. Real misers can roll blades up in a kitchen towel with some heavy rubber bands on each end in a pinch or if you're stuck taking them to the store for sharpening. Just don't toss them willy-nilly into the kitchen junk drawer where they *will* get knicked and ruined.
A honing steel is NOT a sharpener. I'm sure all of you knew that but it's worth clarifying for newcomers.
One of my favourite French chefs who has probably worked with more knives than all of us combined once told me "Knives are as personal as shoes." Wise words indeed. And of course the old saying is very, very true that "a dull knife is much more dangerous than a sharp one."
- Razor Sharp Fork
- Life should be simple. Good food and wine helps with that goal.