How to store kitchen knives
[A Transcript from an Instagram Live conversation with Tara Ransfer of Perfect Edge Cutlery. Edited for clarity.]
[00:00:00] Joseph: We're gonna invite Tara for another episode of Ask Tara.
[00:00:11] Good afternoon, in what I understand is hot California.
[00:00:15] Tara: Rare, rare, rare moment to be this warm in south in Northern California. Gonna be 95 today.
[00:00:21] Joseph: Nineties. Oh, the nineties.
[00:00:25] Tara: So fun.
[00:00:25] Joseph: Awesome. Another episode of Hey Tara, today. And this one comes from, a close friend who told me he bought a knife block after I started getting interested in knives. He said "we used to just put them in the drawer." So, Hey Tara, my friends just put their knives in the drawer with all the other stuff - the junk/silverware drawer. Do we really need to protect our knives?
[00:00:56] Tara: Well, if you think about it, you've got a fine finished edge on a knife that is properly sharpened, right? And if it's going to bang into things, it's very much going to get little nicks and dings and rolls and in extreme situations, chips, if it's banging into other materials that are harder than it is.
[00:01:21] So typically, you'd find the edge of a knife hitting the spine of another knife or a fork. Or a butter knife, you know, things like that. And it will just affect the performance of the knives in the minor things that you can't visually see, but a chip is gonna have to actually go in and be repaired.
[00:01:41] So I typically say between the edge issues that happen, and also in some cases your handles can get kind of scuffed up. And if you've selected some knives and you're having a good time with, I'd say give them a little more protection than that.
[00:02:05] Joseph: Yes. Agreed. Mia agrees. Right? That's one of those, I never thought about, the fine edge hitting the spine of another knife kind of issues. Because I'm thinking of cutting boards that are too hard or the side of a pan or something like that. But when those nicks are in the blade, at least for me, I feel 'em catch when cutting.
[00:02:28] When you're trying to slice a chicken breast or something of that sort. The smaller ones (chips) can be just frustrating. You don't even need to fold it for it to be frustrating.
[00:02:41] Tara: Exactly. You'll definitely get a sense of it tearing through the food a little bit when it hits those spots.
[00:02:46] I mean, think of it this way. It's like one serration all of a sudden in a perfect and, and then secondary, which I oftentimes forget to mention, is it's also that dangerous aspect of reaching into that drawer. If, if you've got knives just loose and right, you're hurry, you've suddenly left the edge exposed to danger and you exposed to danger.
[00:03:11] So I, I just think storing them safely is a better option. And there's so many choices to suit whatever storage needs. You can just put an edge guard on it. You can put a in drawer storage. Obviously, counter blocks are not the only option, right?
[00:03:30] Joseph: Yeah.
[00:03:30] Right. I think it's punchy to say if you want a serrated knife, just buy one. Don't let your knife become one. You don't need to your own. Don't let it just knock around in the drawer.
Okay, so on the same kind of path. How do you think about dishwashers? So you put your knives in there cuz it's, hot and I just cut raw meat and I wanna be healthy.
[00:03:58] So dishwasher does a good job of that, right? But what happens to knives in the dishwasher?
[00:04:05] Tara: Well, you've got a couple of things happening in a dishwasher. First and foremost, the steel on knives are not porous. People over disinfect cutting knives. They just don't need that level of heat and detergent and time in water in the average home, in a commercial setting, things can change but not in homes.
[00:04:29] They also have a different dishwasher. In commercial kitchens, it's different. There are trays. They're not getting banged around as much, so you will see it, but even in there, you don't see it that often because of that detergent and the heat. Particularly home knives have oftentimes wood involved in the handle or some material that will be degraded by the detergent and the heat and the water and the time it spends in those conditions.
[00:04:58] So I do have people that come in and say, absolutely no matter what, they have to be able to go in the dishwasher. My first recommendation is to stay with a poly or a molded style handle that won't be damaged by that. Just remember all the banging around and hitting things happens in a home dishwasher.
[00:05:20] Right. And I often think they can put them on the top rack by the glasses, but they still move, you know? And those racks are just metal that's coated and so they're still hitting a surface that is technically capable of dinging that edge up.
[00:05:38] Joseph: And the extreme temperatures are still present, does that concern you as much as the other factors?
[00:05:44] Tara: if the knife falls down and hits the heating element or gets close to the heating element, that perhaps has a protective cover on it, but it's much hotter right at that space? Technically, the answer to that is you could, depending on the dishwasher, get a high enough temperature... it's not gonna change the temper of a knife completely. But when you get that thin edge hot, it can. So again, that is gonna make you take it to a professional to fix it. So I think it's just best to avoid the dishwashers when you can.
[00:06:25] If they go through a dishwasher, there's a couple of things that you're gonna wanna do after - it happens. House guests, people that come in your house and help out, you know, there's a lot of reasons why things happen to our knives that we don't personally do to them. If they go through a wash cycle then check your knife, take a look at it, make sure there's not any visually evident damage. And typically you're always gonna need to condition the handle with a bit of a conditioner, whether that's a yeah, board butter or just simple mineral oil - to put the oils back into wood. It needs it, or it will chip, break and or crack.
[00:07:04] If it comes to that, you've got to replace that handle. There's no fixing that. And then if it's just a basic poly handle like a German knife or something. Those just get gray. They get dull looking. And then, you know, all of a sudden two of your knives look gray and dull next to three or four others that you typically don't put in the dishwasher.
[00:07:24] A little bit of mineral shines that back up again. Just a simple tip and it's nice if you're thinking your knives look a little dull, just put a tiny little bit of mineral oil and it shines 'em right back up again.
[00:07:35] Joseph: So, yeah. And sometimes I've seen at least the dull ones coming across our bench, lots of German knives in the middle of the country here. The handle ends up cracking around where the rivet or the fasteners are.
[00:07:46] Tara: That's detergent and heat and the water per se, that does that, and that's not a manufacturer's defect. It is literally, a misuse of the knife, the literature that comes with the knife. Knives are made to cut, you're making a knife for the focus and feature of its use, not its ability to stand up to mighty dishwasher experience.
[00:08:23] Joseph: You gonna put the GoPro in there next time? We can see what it goes down.
Alright, well thank you for knife storage and cleaning suggestions, Tara.
[00:08:37] And have you liked this? There's more where that came from. Watch as the can.