Health Fusion: Tips from a Chef on How to Use, Sharpen and Store Knives Safely


This event prompted me to do a Knife Safety Report. But I wanted to learn more about how to properly handle, sharpen and store knives. And I wanted to know what knives I really needed to safely accomplish my chopping chores in the kitchen. So I reached out to Jen Welper, executive head of the Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Living Program.

She gave me a lot of fantastic and useful information, but I summarized it in five main points:

  • Choose the right knives for your hands
  • Keep the knives sharp
  • Wash and store knives properly
  • Use kitchen knives safely
  • Three knives for every kitchen

Welper says kitchen knives are like shoes. They have to adapt well. She suggests that you choose the right size knives for your hands. She points out that you don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of expensive knives. You can use the ones you have, but make sure they are crisp.

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“It’s important to understand that you just need a sharp knife,” Welper explains. “It doesn’t have to be upscale. If it’s comfortable in your hands, that’s all that matters.”

A sharp knife helps prevent hand injuries because it allows the blade to penetrate the object you are cutting, instead of slipping.

Welper explained that there is a difference between sharpening and lapping. Sharpening removes metal to form a point, while sharpening is a way to firm the blade between sharpening sessions. To maintain the shoe analogy, Welper says that the break-in is like when you don’t need a new pair of shoes yet, then you give them a good polish and polish. She says you can buy steels or other devices for lapping. It is the same for the sharpeners. But she also says you can always trust your butcher to know how to properly sharpen knives.

When it comes time to clean your knives, Welper taught me the golden rule: never put them in the dishwasher. If the knives click against other objects, they can become dull and even chip. Wash them thoroughly by hand. Store clean knives in a pad, drawer, or even on magnetic tape. Blade guards will help keep them sharp and keep people safe in your home. If you are not using blade guards, store them with the sharp sides down.

What are Welper’s choices for the three knives you might consider for your kitchen? A chef’s knife, a serrated knife and a boning knife.

For more information and a demonstration on how to properly use knives, check out the video podcast.

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For comments or other ideas for podcast episodes, email Viv Williams at [email protected] Or on Twitter / Instagram / FB @vivwilliamstv.

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