Many undone household tasks go the way of the proverbial frog in boiling water: We don't notice the difference at first, but over time, the cumulative effect is drastic. This week we're going to address one such effect in our kitchens.
Apartment Therapy Weekend Projects is a guided program designed to help you get the happy, healthy home you've always wanted, one weekend at a time. Sign up now for email updates so you never miss a lesson.
This Weekend's Assignment:
Sharpen your kitchen knives.
(Or have them sharpened.)
First things first. That rod that came with your knife set is not a sharpener; it's a honing steel, or honer. You definitely should be using it, though, every two to four uses or once a week, to be exact. Honing balances your knife blade and helps it stay sharp between actual sharpenings. Here's how to do it.
Sharpening (actually sharpening) your knives once a year is important for safety reasons. A sharp knife is less likely to slip off your carrot onto your vulnerable fingers. Not to mention the fact that sharp knives also make chopping much more pleasant.
While it's possible to sharpen knives at home, if you're a beginner, you don't have to try to use a whetstone. Leave that to the professionals. Instead, invest in a quality electric or manual knife sharpener.
Cook's Illustrated outlines the pros and cons of each type of sharpener — manual, electric and others — and also busts the myth that knives can be over-sharpened. One key pro to a manual sharpener is that it does a good job on both plain edge and serrated knives. Wirecutter recommends this affordable manual knife sharpener and this upgrade electrical knife sharpener.
Another option is to have your knives professionally sharpened. Find a local place or send them out to be sharpened. Hardware stores, locksmiths, and home improvement stores are some places that may offer knife sharpening services, but make sure you check reviews to ensure your blades are in great hands.
One last tip: It's possible that the butcher at your local grocery store will sharpen your knives for you for free. Call ahead to ask and find out what works best for their schedule.
Whichever way you choose to have your knives sharpened, the next time you pick up your knives to cut a slippery tomato or debone a whole chicken, you will be thrilled at how well your newly sharpened knives work. So much so that you probably won't forget to do it again next year (but just in case, put a reminder on your calendar now).
Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we've sent you, or tackle another project you've been meaning to get to. It's also completely okay to skip a weekend if you're busy or not feeling the assignment.