Sharpening Versus Honing

Been a while since I wrote anything.  I have around four articles in the queue, just need to get them through the finish line.  The hardest thing about blogging on food, remembering to take photos.  That and paying attention to measurements.  For a diligent engineer, I cook with little regard to strict recipes and measurements.  Anyways, I digress…

The knife is one of the single most used utensils in your kitchen.  Most cooks have a plethora of knives, some just a handful. I personally have quite a few, but regularly use only a few. No matter how many or few you have, one of the most frustrating things while cooking is a dull knife. Whether you are cutting a tomato, or a pork loin, a dull knife can make small tasks more frustrating and time consuming then they need to be. So the question is, what’s the best way to remedy that?

There are two ways to fix your dull knife problem, one is to sharpen your knife, the other is to hone it.  Now you may be saying, I have a sharpener that I use all the time!  If your referring to that steel or ceramic wand/stick in your kitchen, that’s actually a honing tool. So now maybe you are asking, what’s the difference? Well it’s actually pretty simple, to sharpen means to remove material, metal in this case, from the blade. Honing is a realignment of the blade. Sharpening is more of a process and should be done a few times a year if possible (depends on how much you use the knife). Honing is something you can honestly do ever time you use your knife. In fact you can use it multiple times during the same meal prep. If you ever watch a food show, it’s not uncommon to see Gordon Ramsey hone his blade a few times during a meal prep.

The tools to hone and sharpen and different and you may not need to get all the tools.  A hone wand is relatively cheap.  You can get a good steel one for $20 bucks and some high-end ceramic ones run upwards of $50.  Good thing is, they last a while.  A sharpener kit doesn’t cost much more, but the time commitment is much higher.  If you want to skip the kit, you can have a professional do it.  Most malls will have a kitchen store that can help or look around locally for folks who do.  They usually do a great job (probably better then me) and if you only plan to sharpen once a year, the kit may not be worth it.  I compare it to a kit for sharpening and waxing your skis.  It is much cheaper to do yourself and you can get better results with practice, but the truth is most people just wont do it.  If nothing else, invest in a honing wand.  Something you can easily use everyday and its not a giant investment.

So now that I told you a hone wand is a must have, you may be asking how do you use it correctly.  Instead of trying to explain it, check out this site:

There is ton of sites and videos out there that cover sharpening and honing.  I chose this one as an example because its simple.  When you are starting out, don’t overcomplicate it. When you get the hang of it, you can start to really care about the fine details.  Plus I am an engineer and I like things short and sweet, don’t give me a ton of fluff, just the important details.  My only personal tips are, keep at it and don’t cut yourself.  If you do it every time you cook, it will get easier and easy.  It will take some time to get the hang of it.



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