Knives are the most useful yet often underestimated because they’re not typically a high-tech, glamorous-looking kitchen gadget. A very good knife that is made with stainless, carbon, or chromium steel are guaranteed reliable and when well preserved can last you literally a lifetime. Because you use a knife almost every time you work in the kitchen, it has to be maintained as much as it is used. The common misconception of people is that knife maintenance simply equates to keeping them sharp, when in fact, it goes beyond your sharpening steel or whetstone. Here are some helpful tips to care for your knives:
1. Wash knives immediately after use. Knives are stain resistant but not stain proof. Aside from the bacteria tend to multiply on the surface if left unwashed, some food particles have a corrosive effect on the metal when left for a period of time.
2. Hand-wash your knives. Plastic sponge and metal wools scratch the metal and blunt the blade.
3. Never let blades touch each other. Use a knife magnet, knife sheath or knife block for storage.
4. Never cut on metal surface and never use on metal, not even to cut a sheet of aluminum foil. Going against metal damages the blade and destroys the sharpness of your knife.
5. Vinegar can be a great rinse for knives. The acidic substance helps remove watermarks, stains and minerals left on the metal.
Wooden Chopping Board
Soaking wooden chopping boards in soapy water is not the way to sanitize them as they only tend to break when always submerged in water. When cleaning a wooden chopping board, use a wet, soapy sponge and scrub the surface. Dry the surface using a cloth or paper towel. Dry rub it with coarse salt, focusing on the much used area to remove stains and particles from the pores of the wood, rinse then rub a lemon wedge to get rid of unwanted odor. Wipe off and allow it to dry completely.
Stainless steel and Aluminum Pots and Pans
Even heavy-duty stainless steel and aluminum pans become sticky, and when they do, throwing them and getting new ones is not the answer. The reason food sticks to the pan even when there’s oil is because of the contaminants that tend to seep into the porous metal. The solution for this is removing these “foreign” substances. In the book, “Chef’s Secrets”, Chef Deborah Knight reveals her secret to reestablishing nonstick surface on stainless steel and aluminum pans. Here’s how:
1. Place pan on stove over high heat until very hot.
2. Pour a generous amount of iodized salt into the pan.
3. Swirl the salt around the pan. The salt removes impurities that cause sticking and discoloring in metal.
4. Turn off heat, discard salt and wipe with a clean, dry towel.
Copper or Brass Pots and Pans
Another chef shares some tips on how to care for pots and pans, copper and brass in particular. Chef Andrew Saba, in Chef’s Secrets gives his recipe for a cleaning mixture for equipment and tools made with copper and brass:
• 1 cup egg whites
• 1 cup sea salt
• ½ cup lemon juice
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
In a bowl, combine all the ingredients until they form a loose paste. Transfer in an airtight container. Apply to pans. Cover and keep the remaining mixture in the refrigerator.
Non-Stick /Teflon Pans
Renowned chef Anthony Bourdain in his book, “Kitchen Confidential”, says Teflons are a thing of beauty. Metals damage Teflon pans; you don’t want to scratch the surface. If you have a couple of these in your kitchen, it’s best to use spoons and spatulas made with Silicone or wood when cooking. He also stresses that he never washes his Teflon and only wipe them clean after use instead.
Meat grinders are one of those seemingly high-maintenance kitchen equipments because after use, small pieces of meat tend to get stuck in the hard to reach part of the machine. Also, even if you process lean meat, there will still grease left to the holes of the grinder and the trick to this is not soap and water but bread crusts. After processing meat items, grind bread crusts through the machine to leave it clean and oil-free.
Investing on kitchen gadgets surely entails great amount of money especially when you opt for excellence more than anything else. Wear and tear is inevitable. However, you can prolong their lifespan by knowing the right measures to keep them in great shape. Not only do they last for years, but also give you quality output every time you prepare food. Now that’s maximizing your money’s worth—something you can truly call a wise investment.