Fundamentals Of Knife Care (And How To Dice An Onion The Right Way)

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Knives at Eversharp // Photo by Tj Turner

Steel your knife often. Almost every knife set comes with a honing steel, yet most people don’t use it until it’s too late. A knife should be honed after approximately 30 minutes of cutting. The honing steel doesn’t sharpen the edge, but rather prevents the edge from going dull. When looked at under a microscope, the cutting edge of the blade is composed of hundreds of tiny steel fibers. As you use the knife, the fibers get bent out of line and eventually fold over. Honing the knife combs the fibers back into a point and prevents the blade from going dull as quickly.

Holding the steel point-down on a cutting board and with your dominant hand, hold the knife to the steel. Pull the knife gently towards yourself, base to tip, in a slight downward motion, tilting the knife at a 10 to 14 degree angle against the steel.

Once you’ve done one pull, move the knife to the other side of the steel and repeat, alternating sides. Most knife manufacturers recommend doing this motion three to six times, depending on how sharp your knife is currently.

Avoid cutting on surfaces that damage the blade. Wood, plastic, or a wood composite all make good cutting surfaces because the material is soft enough to scratch and therefore doesn’t cause the blade to lose its edge prematurely. Avoid glass, granite, and other such hard materials, as these cause a knife to go dull extremely quickly. If you see scratches in the board after cutting, it’s made from the right material.

Avoid cutting (or prying apart) frozen foods. Even the highest quality knives can chip if you cut into a chunk of ice and, no matter how tempting it might be, you should always avoid using the tip to pry something open or apart.

Wash by hand. We promise you won’t regret it. From how the handle ages to how the blade holds up, don’t put knives in the dishwasher—even plastic-handled ones.

How To Dice An Onion

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Illustration by DWITT

1. Cut approximately ¼ of an inch off of the stem side of onion and peel it. Be sure to leave the root side whole.

2. Set peeled onion on cutting board, root end up.

3. Slice in half (through the poles.)

4. Lay the onion halves flat side down on cutting board. Holding the root, use the tip of your knife to cut long vertical slices from base to tip of onion, leaving ¼ of an inch near your fingers to hold the slices together. (A good way to ensure that the slices are even is to change the angle of each cut, so that your blade is always cutting slightly angled toward the center of the onion.)

5. Holding the onion slices together, turn the onion or your knife perpendicular to the long slices and, from stem to root, chop the onion into 1/8 inch, evenly diced pieces.

 

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