5 pointers for keeping your knives sharp

Plus the best knife sets from Consumer Reports’ tests

Published: February 24, 2015 04:45 PM

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Dull knives can slow you down because they require more force to cut stuff. They’re also dangerous because they’re more likely to slip when slicing, putting your fingers at risk. Factory sharpening doesn’t last long, so it’s up to you to keep the edge sharp. Here’s how from the experts at Consumer Reports.

Do hone. That smooth-looking edge on a chef’s knife, paring knife, and slicer actually has superfine teeth like a comb. When you chop straight down, they get messed up. Honing on a steel sharpening rod straightens them out again, restoring the edge.

Don’t scrape. Avoid scraping the edge of the knife across your cutting board to scoop up chopped food; that dulls the knife. Use a pastry scraper for the job instead.

Do use the right cutting board. Wooden cutting boards are the most forgiving; polyethylene is a close second. Cutting on a plate or other hard surface such as tile or glass will ruin the edge.

Don’t put knives in the dishwasher. Even if the manufacturer says it’s okay, always hand-wash knives. Excessive heat and chemicals take their toll. Wash with soap and water, and dry immediately.

Do store them right.
Use a block or a wall-mounted magnetic strip. Avoid drawers, where edges can knock against each other or other kitchen implements.

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Professional

Top knife sets from our tests

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Professional "S", $315
This German-based brand is a premium name in kitchen knives, and this 7-piece set is tops overall in our tests. The forged knives are sturdy and sharp, and their handles are exceptionally well-balanced, which should limit hand fatigue.

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Profection 33049, $600
Like its top-rated brand mate, this knife set carries the prestige of one of the world's oldest and finest knife makers. The forged knives are sturdy and sharp, and their handles are exceptionally well-balanced. Paying more for this set gets you an additional santoku knife.    

Wusthof Classic Ikon 8347, $400
This 7-piece knife set from one of the world's top knife makers includes a santoku knife and slicer, in addition to the versatile 8-inch chef's knife. The blades are all forged from a single piece of steel, ensuring top strength and stability. The knives are backed by a lifetime guarantee.  

Wusthof Trident Classic 8418, $350
This 8-piece set offers precision cutting and it’s one of the few models that combines excellent handle comfort and balance, making the knives incredibly easy to use. In addition to an 8-inch chef’s knife, the set includes a santoku, preferred by some for chopping.

Ginsu Chikara, $75, a CR Best Buy
For some, the name Ginsu is synonymous with hammy 1970s-era infomercials, but this is a serious cutlery company. Its 8-piece set offers incredible value, providing the cutting performance and handle comfort of knives costing three and four times as much. The set includes a chef’s and santoku knife, but not a slicer.

—Adapted from ShopSmart magazine

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