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klarkgr   , 27

from New York


Knife Essentials – Washing & Storing

Being a self taught cook you sometimes have to learn things the hard way. Like the time I learned that the tip of a paring knife is not the best thing to use when trying to pry apart frozen hamburgers (what can I say, I was young). Anyway, over the years, there are some things that you hear (and read) over and over so you get a pretty good feeling that they must be right. With help of Top10reviewer today I’m going to share two of the most essential knife care tips – proper washing and storage.

Washing your Knife

Regardless of what manufacturer your knife is from (JA Henkels, Wusthof, Victorinox, etc), the proper washing technique is the same – hand wash with warm water using a minimal amount of detergent, rinse thoroughly and dry immediately. There are several reasons for this.

Knives must be washed immediately after every use to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria (the same is true for cutting boards, but I’ll discuss that in another post). NEVER put your knivesin a dishwasher. Inside the dishwasher your knives can bang against the wire racks, otherflatware. , dishes, pots and pans resulting in a nicked blade. Also, if not removed immediately from the dishwasher, the long exposure to steam can cause your knife to stain (even if it’s made fromstainless steel). Dishwashers are especially harmful to knives with wooden handles. Not only is the strength of the wood is reduced, but it’s natural lustre and beauty are greatly diminished.

The same washing technique is recommended for ceramic knives such as Kyocera.

It is also worth noting that all knives (regardless of material of construction) should bewashedprior to their first use. This helps to remove any remaining oils which may be left behind as a result of the manufacture and sharpening processes.

Knives with wooden handles also require a little extra care. The wood should be completely driedafter each use. Also, an occasional wipe with mineral oil will help to help maintain the wood’s moisture resistance, and natural finish.

Storing your Knife

Now that your knife has been properly cleaned, where should you store it?

Do NOT throw (toss, drop, place, lay, etc) it into a drawer with all your other cutlery and/or flatware. The constant banging and scraping against all the other metal in the drawer is a guaranteed way to dull and damage your knife. There are several simple ways to properly store your knives:

Knife Block

Knife blocks come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes, storing the knives either horizontally or vertically. If vertical, it is necessary to insert your knife with the blade up, so it is not dulled as it rubs against the hardwood. Best for counter top storage.

Wooden in-drawer knife tray

The wooden knife drawer is similar to a Knife Block, except that it is designed to fit into a drawer. Depending on the size/style of the knife tray, it may not be possible to store theknives with the blade up. For those who prefer to keep their knives out of sight.

Magnetic rack (not an option for ceramic knives)

Extra strong magnets provide a safe alternative method of storage. All knives are easily visible and no counter space is lost since the magnetic bar is mounted directly to the wall. Excellent option for those with limited counter space.

Cook’s case

This is the preferred storage method for professional chefs. The actual ‘case’ can be anything from a soft polyester/PVC roll to an aluminum frame, foam insert briefcase.

Regardless of how you decide to store your knives, the important thing to remember is that withproper care (and minimal effort), your knives can last for a very long time.


How Much Silverware do you need?

Like most things, there is no simple answer. according to Top10Reviewer the amount and type of silverware (flatware) you will require are completely dependent upon the formality of the occasion. So before I get into the type and quantity of silverware you’ll be needing, lets’ first look at the settings you are likely to choose from.

Since most of the Holiday dinners my wife and I host tend to have the similar menus, I had to do a little research to get the finer points of where everything goes, and which way the knife should face (fyi – the blade of the knife should always face the plate). With that in mind, shown below are the basic layouts that I’ll be referring to. For those of you who are interested in more detailed explanations about the order of service, the variations in settings, and what you should or should not eat with your fingers, visit Emily Post’s Table Setting Guide, Replacements Ltd, Did You Know, or Wikipedia.


The basic setting requires the fewest pieces of flatware and dinnerware per setting. This is naturally the most common type and is used by most chain to mid-price restaurants. A common type of this setting is shown below.

A Basic Table Setting

An even simpler version of this setting has no salad plate with the bread knife and butter dish optional. Other variations might include placing the napkin where the salad plate is placing the salad plate on top of the dinner plate, with the napkin on top of that.

Informal (Table Service)

Whether being referred to as an informal service (as I am) or formal dinner service, the distinguishing feature of this setting is that the serving dishes are placed on the table – picture Thanksgiving with the Turkey on a platter, surrounded by bowls of stuffing and cranberry sauce, etc, that are passed around the table.

An Informal Table Setting

The setting above is set for a menu consisting of a soup course, salad or first course, an entree, and dessert. Here most variations will occur with the type of glasses used. Depending on the meal, these can be any combination of wine glasses, water goblet, and coffee cup & saucer.

Formal (Kitchen Service)

This is the most formal type of service, where all of the food (and drink) is served from the kitchen (similar to a restaurant).

The Formal Setting

Although very similar to the Informal setting, here the Service Plate (a) or Charger (Thank you Emily Post) serves as an underplate on top of which all courses are placed, until it is swapped for the entree. The only other additions are the Fish knife (g), oyster/fish fork (j), a sherry glass (le), and possibly a champagne flute (not shown).

Let’s get to the Silverware

As you can see (and probably already knew) as the ‘formality’ of the setting increases, so does the amount of dinnerware and silverware. So when purchasing flatware the most obvious question that you need to answer is “what type of service am I most likely to have?”. For the vast majority, I am guessing it will be the informal service, which will typically occur on the Holidays. So in order to keep from having to run the dishwasher between dinner and dessert (or using plastic utensils) keep the following in mind:

Silverware is typically sold in service sets of 5 pcs each. A service set includes a knife, two forks (salad and dinner), a soup spoon and a teaspoon. Flatware sets that are not sold in multiples of ‘5′ generally come in one of two variations, with serving pieces or extra teaspoons or salad/dessert forks. I always like having more forks (especially for dessert). This is probably due to the fact we always have plenty of desserts and not many people in my family drink coffee (so I always have more than enough spoons). So as a first estimate, you’ll need to know roughly how many people will be dropping by (on average). If you have the financial resources to buy the finest silver for all your guests, good for you. More realistically, a quality service for 8 – 12 should be fine, with a similarly styled, less expensive set for younger adults and children. Since my wife and I both come from small families our service for 16 does fine (or at least it did until both my nieces got a boyfriend).

Most important to remember is that if the set your considering does not come with service pieces, make sure they can be purchased separately. Most (if not all) manufacturers will sell service sets which typically include a serving spoon, slotted spoon, serving fork, butter knife, and sugar spoon. In most cases, it will be a good idea to get the additional service set even if a few are included with your basic set. because you’ll almost always have more side dishes than serving utensils. Since everyone tends to like different things, and we try to have something for everyone, we almost always have as many side dishes as we do serving utensils. At our last Christmas dinner, we used 2 serving forks, 3 serving spoons, 3 slotted spoons, a mini ladle and a spatula (for the Lasagna).