You have probably seen dozens of knife sharpeners in the market, and one of those gaining popularity is the handheld knife sharpener. But what exactly are knife sharpeners, and how can you maximize their use?
Aside from learning these basic facts, you'll also know more about whether it's worth investing in a handheld knife sharpener, depending on where you usually use it. So read on for a closer look into these nifty tools.
What Is a Handheld Knife Sharpener?
A knife sharpener is a kitchen tool that can resharpen knives. Although knives remain sharp for a long time, some blade materials will need resharpening as they can get dull easily with frequent use.
These sharpeners have small roughened edges that are designed to strop and hone dull knife blades. There are different knife sharpeners you can choose from: electric knife sharpeners, sharpening stones, honing steels, serrated knife sharpeners, and handheld sharpeners. Although these may differ in mechanisms, they are all designed to make knife blades sharp.
Handheld knife sharpeners are manually operated, which means you can use these even when power is not available in your area. In addition, you can conveniently bring this anywhere with its small size! Electric knife sharpeners, on the other hand, are bulkier and more stationary. Aside from size, blade slots are one of their main differences. A handheld one has one to two slots available, while an electric knife sharpener has three or more.
These two types of knife sharpeners differ in terms of their ease of use. Handheld sharpeners are more compact, which means you can use them easily by hand. Since these are smaller in size, you can also bring them anywhere. However, electric knife sharpeners are stationary and should be placed on a flat surface to ensure steady sharpening.
If you're looking for a compact knife sharpener you can bring anywhere; you should opt for the best handheld knife sharpener! Even if these are smaller than other knife sharpeners, they are extremely reliable kitchen tools that can make your knives as sharp as you want them to be!
Benefits of Owning a Handheld Knife Sharpener
If you frequently use knives, you'd know how easy it is to work with sharp blades. But if you use these daily, it’s only natural for the blades to dull quicker. Fortunately, there is a way for you to resharpen these—a handheld sharpener, instead of buying a new set every time the blades weaken.
Are you still not convinced whether you should invest in knife sharpeners? Here are just some of its many benefits.
You can sharpen knives anywhere and anytime you want to.
One of the major selling points of handheld knife sharpeners is their portability. Since these are handheld devices, you'd expect them to be compact. For people who love the outdoors or traveling, sharpening knives will not be a hassle—you can bring this handy tool anywhere without any hassle!
If you're planning to leave the town or city for quite some time and go off-the-grid, food is one of the basic things you need to secure. With a portable knife sharpener that does not require electricity to run, you don't have to worry about your knives getting dull! This particular feature sets it apart from other sharpeners available in the market and is one of the reasons you should opt for these sharpeners over others.
It doesn't need electricity to work.
Since these are manually operated, they don't need to be plugged into a working power source for them to work. On the other hand, electric knife sharpeners require power to work, and they have cords with limited lengths.
The only way to address this is to lengthen the connection with an extension cord further so you can use it even if you're far away from the outlet. But, this won't be a problem with handheld sharpeners since you won't need electricity to power your devices anyway.
It is less intimidating to use.
If you're new to sharpening knives, you might find it a hard time to use manual ones compared to electric sharpeners. But the same cannot be said with handheld knife sharpeners. Two things can contribute to it being less intimidating to use, especially if you're a beginner. These are the handheld sharpener's size and blade slots.
As mentioned earlier, these are manually operated, compact, and, therefore, less bulky. As a result, it does not produce intimidating rattling sounds when you're sharpening them. There are also blade slots available to help you navigate through the sharpening and honing process.
Handheld knife sharpeners usually have two blade openings in them which would correspond for coarse and fine sharpening. The blade slots are there to help guide you in where you should sharpen the edges.
The presence of these slots is what makes it different from other manual knife sharpeners. With these, you don't necessarily have to be skilled at manually sharpening your knives! Instead, you just have to place the knife blades in these slots and run it through three to four times. This feature makes the handheld sharpeners less intimidating and, therefore, more beginner-friendly.
It is cost-efficient.
When your knives are already dull, you have three options on how you can make this work. You can either get your knives professionally sharpened, buy a new set of knives, or sharpen them yourself. The first two will require you to shell out a considerable amount of money and are not sustainable practices. Although you can go for these options, it may not be the most practical choice, especially if you're on a budget.
The third option, however, is more sustainable and cheaper. A high-quality Chef's choice handheld knife sharpener costs less than $10, maybe less than $15 if you want something on the higher end. In addition, it is a one-time investment, and it's easy to learn. So if you want to save about $50 to $100 at least every month on your kitchen knives, you should consider getting a knife sharpener instead!
How to Sharpen a Knife With Handheld Sharpener
After learning the benefits of using a knife sharpener, the next question you have to ask yourself is, "how do you use a handheld knife sharpener?" Here's a quick guide on how you can use them properly.
1. Secure the knife sharpener in place on a flat and level surface. It will be easier for you to sharpen them this way.
2. Hold your knife sharpener with your non-dominant hand. Your dominant hand should hold the knife with the blade away from you.
3. If the sharpener has two slots (for coarse and fine honing), use the fine side first before moving to the coarse side.
4. Align the knife in a straight position. Pull the knife through 3 to 5 times. Don't put much pressure when you're pulling the knife. It's enough that both sides of the blade are already in contact with the sharpener.
5. After realigning the knife using the fine sharpener, you can move to the coarse side. Start running it through from the blade's heel and pull the entire knife's body until its tip. Repeat the process 3 to 6 times.
6. Finish off by fine sharpening the blades again for a final run-through.
7. Clean the knife with a damp towel to remove the ground metal debris.
8. Store the knife sharpener in a cool, dry place.
Why Should You Keep Your Knife Sharp?
Whether you are a professional chef or a regular home cook, having a sharp knife in your kitchen will be very helpful. If you've used dull knives before, you are probably familiar with how different the cuts are compared to using a knife with a sharp edge. But if you're unsure of what a sharp knife can bring you, here’s why you should:
Safer to use
One of the reasons you should take the extra effort in sharpening your knives is that sharp blades are safer to use. Contrary to popular belief, it's more dangerous to use dull kitchen knives than sharp ones.
When using dull blades, especially when cutting thick slices of meat or fruits, you tend to put added pressure on them since it's harder to make clean slices with dull edges. Unfortunately, when you do this unsafe maneuver, you usually put pressure on the knife's spine, making you prone to cutting yourself.
So instead of having your other hand in contact with the knife's blade, it will be safer to have a sharp knife rather. This way, you don't have to position your fingers on the blade to make the perfect cut on your meat or fruits.
There is also a psychological aspect to this. For example, when you know that you're holding a sharp knife, you tend to handle it with care. But if you see that the blade you're using is not that sharp, there's a chance that you'd be less mindful of the safety practices when using it.
Faster food preparation times
Aside from safety, sharp knives can also bring about faster food preparation times. However, as mentioned earlier, dull blades require more pressure compared to sharp knives. This added force, especially when food prep is done over extended periods, can strain your arms and result in fatigue.
In addition, you will struggle with every cut when you use dull knives, and there's no assurance that these cuts are even clean. So skip the hassle of redoing your cuts again and use sharp knives instead. It's a waste of time and ingredients, especially if you're working in a professional setting.
Aside from that, the faster you prepare your ingredients, the more diverse the dishes you can serve! Delight the whole household with a wide array of food choices. Now, you have more time to focus on cooking when you have quick food prep time.
Keeps the ingredients fresh
You might think there's no direct link between having a sharp-edged knife blade with the freshness of your ingredients, but these are actually related to one another. Sharp knives cut fresh ingredients beautifully, particularly with fruits and vegetables. Dull knives, on the other hand, damage their cellular components. The more damaged this fresh produce is, the faster their wilting and discoloration will be.
For example, if you compare the difference in the skin of an apple after slicing it with a new and dull knife, you'll notice oxidation (dark spots) forming on the surface where the blade was in contact. This is a strong indication of the apple's cellular components being severely damaged. Therefore, use sharp knives to keep your ingredients as fresh and beautiful as possible.
Healthier for everyone
If you've used dull knives in cutting herbs before, you might have noticed some green streaks on the blade and cutting board. Some will say it's only natural to find these smudges, given the color of the herbs. However, this is not the case.
When you are using sharp knives when preparing your food, you are not only keeping them fresh—you're keeping them healthy too! Using sharp knives can keep the cellular components intact and less damaged, which preserves its natural juices and nutrients. So use sharp knives instead of dull ones to serve the freshest and healthiest food.
Better overall cooking experience
Ask any professional chef what tool they value most when working in the kitchen, and most of them will have knives as their answer. Sharp knives produce clean and precise cuts. Although it might not seem like it, the cuts greatly affect the taste of the dish.
If you're planning to brush up on your knife skills, it's best to practice it with sharp blades. It's a lot easier for you to perform cuts down to the tee this way! For example, you'll see the difference when you use a dull knife for complicated cut techniques compared to a sharp one.
So for an overall better cooking experience—from your ease of use to safety and producing great-tasting dishes—it's definitely worth getting a knife sharpener to sharpen your blades!
Conclusion: Yes, Getting a Handheld Knife Sharpener Is Worth the Investment
If you're still at the crossroads on whether you should get a knife sharpener or not, the benefits of having a sharp knife, along with having your sharpener, are discussed above. So get the most out of your sharp knife and never handle blades with worn edges again with this nifty instrument!