KNIFE SKILLS AND BLADE MAINTENANCE
Get yourself some good training in how to use your knife and/or knives well! Furthermore, learn which knives to use when. There’s no point wielding a 12 inch cooks knife when de-stoning a peach. A one-inch paring knife would be a much more sensible option…
This might sound obvious but it's surprising how many people find this difficult. Through my experience teaching, I’ve found that there are many out there who think one knife can do it all. They also assume that the sharper the knife, the more dangerous it is. Nothing could be further from the truth! The more blunt your blade, the more force you will have to exert. If your blade or your hand slip, god only knows where your knife will end up.
Below are are a simple set of rules to be mindful of while using your tools.
1) Make sure your knives are sharp!
2)The second rule of butchery is…as above…
3)Do not cut towards any part of your body unless there is some kind of barrier between yourself and the knife like a bone or the cutting board.
4)If you need to move the piece of meat you’re working on to get a better purchase or angle, be sure to put your blade down first. Then move the piece of meat to where you need it to be before picking up your tools again. Failing to do this will be dangerous for you and everyone else in your immediate vicinity.
Also worth bearing in mind is knife maintenance. There is no point buying a good knife if you can’t manage to keep it in good condition.
A few thing I find useful are;
1)Every time you take your knife out of its case, holder or out of the drawer (please don’t keep your knives in a drawer!) brush the blade on the steel before using it.
2)Learn how to use a steel.
3)Use the steel regularly throughout use. Be mindful of how your blade is reacting to what it contacts and as soon as you recognise you need to use more force use the steel again. You’ll notice the difference immediately.
4)Before you put your knife away, give it another quick brush on the steel.
If you’ve not used a steel before here are a few steps to get to grips with it.
1)Take the steel in your opposing hand with the metal point exiting from the base of your palm. I’m right handed so I use my left hand for this.
2)Place the steel on to a surface which is difficult to move such as a tea towel or a rubber mat and keep it vertical.
3)Take the knife in your other hand and keep it at a 10-15 degree angle to the vertical shaft of the steel.
4)Starting with the hilt of the knife, draw the blade down the length of the steel. Pull the knife towards you as you do so, thereby ending with the tip of the knife at the end of the stroke.
5)Repeat this with a medium force until there is a noticeable difference in how easy using your blade is.