The Hospitality Guru: (cooking) Back to Basics – Steel/stone
A Steel is an essential part of your tool kit, a steel is used to maintain the cutting edge of your knife, this is called honing. When buying a steel; its important to get one that is harder (higher on the Rockwell Scale) than the knives it is going to sharpen. A stone can also be used to sharpen knives.
You’ll need to practise honing your knife with a steel a bunch of times, it’s a technique that will become easy & natural the more you practise. The following steps are recommended for honing a knife with a steel.
- Hold the steel at an angle of 45 degrees with your thumb facing upwards on the handle.
- Maintain an angle of 10 degrees against the steel and place the heel of the knife against the tip of the steel. Using a slicing motion, move the knife against the steel along its full length. Work from the heel of the knife to the tip.
- Stroke the other side of the knife against the steel in the same way. Two or three strokes per side is all that should be needed.
- Wash and dry the knife carefully.
You will also need to learn how to sharpen a knife using a stone & as with using the steel, you’ll have to spend many hours practising this technique.
- Put the stone securely lengthwise on a bench. A folded damp cloth under the stone will stop it from slipping.
- Smear the stone with an appropriate lubricant. (Refer to manufacturer’s recommendation)
- Hold the knife by the handle. Rest the fingers of your free hand on the side of the blade.
- Hold the knife at a 10-15 degrees angle to the stone.
- Use long, even strokes to move the knife along the whole length of the stone. Work the knife from heel to point, and alternate between sides.
- Clean the knife under cold running water to wash off any metal grindings.
- Dry the knife carefully.
Diamond and sand stones are used for sharpening knives; they are lubricated with detergent, water or oil, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendation & in some cases your preference.
Grinding a knife is only necessary when the blade needs to be reshaped after long and continuous use or poor treatment & should be left to the professional because an inexperienced person may do more harm than good.
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