Care for knives, they’ll care for you

  • By Judyrae Kruse
  • Sunday, July 10, 2005 9:00pm
  • Life

Buying “good” knives is a pricey proposition. Right up there with buying a new car or a house.

Well, OK, on a smaller scale – but still a major financial outlay. Unlike cars or houses, though, you will, once you lay hands on a “good” knife, never, not ever, trade it in, trade up or – God forbid – sell it.

Why? Because a good knife will work day in, day out, and probably outlive you. Personally speaking, I have three knives in that category, and they are all older than I am. Yes.

One is a corn knife, once confiscated by me when an elderly down-the-road legend of a marvelous man/neighbor showed up, whistling it through the air, at our house-in-progress at Cicero. But never mind, that’s a story for another day.

The other two knives are paring knives, fish knives actually, used down on the Seattle docks before I was born.

The original handles, old and handworn, smooth-as-silk and nearly bleached to white, eventually gave up the job a long time ago, to be replaced by sleek and soft cedar handles, shaped and sanded to perfection by my sons’ hands, And they still are, with an occasional touch-up, as sharp as a gossip’s tongue.

Which brings us to a Forum SOS asking about how to care for good knives. Responding to this question, Everett contributor Stephen Bourasaw writes, “I was reading your article about the question will putting knives in the dishwasher or leaving them in water dull them.

“From my experience in the culinary and meat-cutting field, the answer is a certain yes. For one thing, any knives – inexpensive or costly – should not be run in the dishwasher because of the handles, especially if they are made out of wood. Warping and discoloring will occur, and will eventually ruin the handles as well as dull the edge on the blade.

“Knives sitting in dishwater in the sink will dull the edge as well. They should always be washed by hand and rinsed, and sanitized, if possible, before putting them away.

“But the most important thing to remember is never, never put a knife in dishwater because, if the sink is full of soapy water and you reach in the water to either get something you know is in there, or are just washing the dishes and you are unaware there is a knife in there, you can wind up cutting your fingers or hand. I know this from experience, and I tell fellow employees I work with to never put a knife in the sink.”

Winding up, Bourasaw adds, “I hope you pass this on to your readers. As far as complaints about “the knives I bought a few years ago don’t have their sharpness any more,” if you wash them by hand as I said, they will keep their edge for a long time. And running them over a steel once a month will keep that sharpness.”

Next, we have more good info from Lake Stevens helper-outer Vicky Paulson, who tells us, “My husband and I have Henckels knives, and we do not put them in the dishwasher. Assuming your Camano Island reader has good-quality knives, here are several care guidelines.”

Care of knives

No knife is totally stainless. Don’t allow high-acid foods (lemon, mustard, ketchup, etc.) to remain on the blade after use. This might cause some slight tarnishing. If the blade does show some signs of stain, use a non-abrasive metal polish for cleaning.

Do not put knives in dishwasher. Banging against other cutlery or pots and pans will nick the edge. Also, high heat and detergent are not good for the handles. Instead, wipe the knife clean in your sink with a wet cloth and dishwashing detergent. Dry immediately. Dry from the back of the knife to the edge.

The Forum is always happy to receive your contributions and requests, so send them along to Judyrae Kruse at the Forum, c/o The Herald, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206.

Please remember that all letters and all e-mail must include a name, complete address with ZIP code and telephone number with area code. No exceptions and sorry, but no response to e-mail by return e-mail; send to

The next Forum will appear in Wednesday’s Food section.

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