This is an open letter, begging you to stop ruining your knives.

Ashley Kappel
October 16, 2018

I don’t subscribe to the idea that you can do things “wrong” in your kitchen. I don’t care if you prefer your macaroni boxed instead of from-scratch, or that you cheat your marinade time because you forgot to prep the ingredients the night before. But I do believe there is one culinary crime often committed that begs our collective attention: You are ruining your knives.

You are ruining your knives by using them in ways they should not be used. Don’t you dare take a knife out of your carving block and use it on anything that isn’t food. Do no open Amazon boxes, or pill bottles. Do not use it as a screwdriver on your kid’s birthday present. Do not cut twine off packages or trussed birds; this is why you have kitchen shears. Do not, for all that is good and holy, saw branches off your Christmas tree. Do not use them to pop open condiment tops. And, for real now, do not use them to clear the drain of your dish disposal.*

Repeat after me: Knives are not a reasonable way to open bottles of wine. Maybe if you are a lauded sea captain christening your vessel on its maiden voyage while wielding a sabor you have some excuse, but even then, sheath that bad boy for another day and use a corkscrew instead.

You should be using your knives as intended by their maker, so read up before you slice. A serrated knife is wrong for carving a turkey. A lettuce knife is not for slicing onions. And a paring knife isn’t interchangeable for a steak knife unless you’re currently eating meat from an animal you just killed and cooked in the forest with only the assistance and company of your Swiss Army Knife. Then, I suppose, you do you.

More on kitchen knives:

An easy way to know if you’re using your knife correctly is to examine your cutting surface. If you are using your knives on anything that is not a cutting board, you need to stop and seriously question what you are doing with your knives.

Speaking of cutting boards, get good ones! And use them appropriately! Don’t break out your marble cheese board, which is lovely by the way, and use it to slice and serve pork tenderloin. Don’t then use the sharp edge of your knife to scrape said pork slices onto your plate; while your ears may shriek in pain, the screech of the knife will actually be its cry of pain as it becomes useless. The stone will blunt your knife faster that you can blink, and then you have a sad knife and a potentially wrecked marble platter.

If you haven’t ruined your knife by using it to pop open a cereal box or two, then you’re probably ruining them by how you store them. Knives belong in blocks or on knife-approved magnet strips appropriately adhered to a safe wall. Not in drawers clattering around with your measuring spoons so they can dull more quickly while simultaneously becoming way more likely to dismember you.

While we’re at it, they do not belong in the basin of the sink, either clean or dirty. If your knife is dirty, wash it, then set it to dry in an appropriate place. Leaving it in the sink allows it to bang into the edges, dulling your knife and dinging your sink. No one wins.

But at least you’re handwashing your knife, right? Right? Because the other way you’re ruining your knife is by using it to slice a delicious steak, then popping it into the dishwasher for its blade to warp and handle, if wooden, to split. Knives aren't cast iron; you need to wash them, just by hand.

If you care for your knives, sharpening them at regular intervals and using them appropriately, they are among the few items in your kitchen that can last a lifetime. So take care of them, and stop ruining your knives.

*all actual examples witnessed by our editors.

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