It is a well-known fact that our knowledge regarding food and how to prepare it safely grows every day. From the best materials to choose when buying a pot to how to cut a chicken, cooking has evolved very quickly. And today’s topic is just as important if not more so. Is it safe to use one knife to cut various foods? Should I wash the knife before cutting something else? When must a knife be cleaned and sanitized? Knives are an essential part of every kitchen, and their hygiene is very important. We must all take good care of our kitchen appliances and utensils. This is because they are in direct contact with our main source of sustenance. I will do my best to answer all of these questions for you today. And hopefully, you will learn the importance of a clean knife and cutting board.
Why is it important to clean and sanitize knives these days?
The reason behind cleaning and sanitizing your knives is cross contamination. Cross-contamination is the transfer of bacteria from one food, surface or item and onto your food. Aside from bacteria, allergens, toxins, or chemicals that might be transferred onto your food. The many possible outcomes of cross-contamination become quite clear and unsavory. Foodborne illnesses can originate in many ways unlike what common knowledge will have you believe. Contamination can happen in food production, harvest or slaughter, processing, or even transport. That is why proper maintenance of your knives and cutting boards is essential.
There is also the fact that our atmosphere is not as clean as it used to be. These bacteria and fungus can sometimes be found in places where they shouldn’t be because of it. As a result, we find ourselves in need of a more rigorously hygienic kitchen place. Like surgeons, all utensils used by a cook should be cleaned and sterilized before and after use.
When must a knife be cleaned and sanitized?
There are a few other situations in which you should clean your knives. One of the most well-known food-related illnesses is Salmonella. It can be caught when eating undercooked meat, chicken, or egg. And this is an example of how undercooked, unwashed, or raw food could be very detrimental to our health. Leafy greens, leftover rice, raw eggs, meats, and seafood food are the most likely to be contaminated. Aside from that, there is the human factor, which can open more doors to food contamination. You should also take into account the surroundings of your knives. Are you using the same cutting board for meat and veggies? Is your knife block clean? Has your knife still got some food debris stuck to it? Has your knife started to grow mold or become rusty? Bearing all of this in mind, when must a knife be cleaned and sanitized?
Filleting fish, meat, or chicken
As you might know, some knives are specially designed for cutting specific foods. Most knives can be said, but the most common ones are those designed for cutting different meats. Be it filleting a fish or cutting a stake, meat tends to carry quite the amount of bacteria. So it is not unusual for people to use one specific knife for a single task like cutting raw meat. If this is the case then, when must a knife be sanitized and cleaned? The answer is simple: after every use. If you are using a knife for a single purpose, then there is no need to wash it more than that.
Using a knife for many foods
Of course, not everyone has a different knife for each type of food they prepare, so many people use the same knife. Although if you do this, you should take certain precautions. Every time you are done with, say veggies and need to cut meat, you should wash the knife thoroughly first. Ideally, you should change cutting boards as well. This is because bacteria can transfer from one food to the other when using the same knife and board.
More than one person uses the knife
Too many cooks spoil the broth, or so the saying goes. But in this case, we might as well heed those words of caution. If several people use the same knife, there is a higher risk of cross-contamination. If you share a kitchen with one or more people, then your safest option is washing the knife before using it. You don’t know what the person before you used the knife for. That’s why your safest option is to clean and sanitize the knife before using it yourself. That way you can prevent any food-related health issues.
How often should knives be cleaned?
You might know by now the answer to when must a knife be cleaned and sanitized is not an easy one. As we have mentioned before, it will depend on the use you give the knife and how many people use it. If you are cutting different foods with the same knife, you should wash it before switching. When many people make use of the same knife, you should wash it before using it every time. Additionally, if you haven’t used the knife in a while, it would be a good idea to sanitize it before using it as well. Or, in order not to damage the blade, you can also wash it after cutting acidic foods. Acidic foods can corrode the blade of your knife more easily and reduce its quality very quickly.
How are knives cleaned and sanitized?
Most people think that rinsing off the knife after every use is all it takes to clean it. The truth is, it’s not that simple. If a knife is not cleaned, bacteria, fungus, and other pathogens can start growing there. And with this growth comes the risk of food contamination. Every knife should be cleaned with warm water and soap in order to be sanitized properly. Warm water helps kill bacteria while soap removes food debris from the blade and handle. Holding it by the handle at all times -you don’t want to cut yourself- make sure all debris is removed from the knife. In order to prevent corrosion, take a clean cloth and wipe it dry.
It might sound quite obvious when I say “hold it by the handle” but cutting yourself isn’t the only danger in not doing so. Blood can also contaminate a blade and be the cause of cross-contamination, even if it is your own.
Is it safe to use a dishwasher to clean a knife?
Not all knives are dishwasher-safe, so you should check before you buy one. Many knives that are put in a dishwasher and aren’t dishwasher safe can be ruined after that. Blades can become dull and handles can become loose. You wouldn’t want to ruin your cooking knives for such a silly reason, so checking beforehand doesn’t hurt. If you have no way to check or are still in doubt, best stick to handwashing. Ideally, knives should be cleaned by hand since the dishwasher can be quite harsh on the blade. But if you own a dishwasher-safe knife then you can wash it in one as often as you deem necessary.
How to properly take care of a knife to make it last longer?
Good knives can be quite a hefty investment, so many people want to care for them in a way that makes them last longer. One of the things people neglect often is the hygiene of their cutting boards. As I have said earlier, a dirty cutting board could contaminate your knife very easily. Knife blocks are quite important as well. There is no point in taking good care of your knives if the storage you put them in is dirty or in bad shape. To clean your knife blocks you should put them upside down. Make sure you remove all of the dirt and mold that might have built up. Before putting your knives back in, let them dry properly. That way, you can avoid fungus building up.
When washing your knives, make sure to use a mild detergent in order not to damage their quality. Another factor that might affect the longevity of your knife is leftover debris. To avoid this, you should check your knife after cleaning it blade to the hilt. That way you can make sure there is no leftover food to contaminate it. Another factor to take into account is humidity. Mold is a common enemy to all kitchen appliances and utensils. Make sure your knife is dried properly before putting it back in storage. Many people don’t know that keeping their knives sharpened is in their best interest. You should keep your knives sharpened at all times using a good sharpener in order to make them last longer.
By now, you should have some idea of when a knife must be cleaned and sanitized. The answer will vary on the use you give the knife and how often you use it. Knives are a vital part of every kitchen and they need to be cared for as such. Whether you use it to scale fish or share it with other people, you will now know how often to clean your knife and why. To some, this might seem like overkill, but food contamination is no joke and can be very harmful to your health. In a kitchen, where the main source of sustenance for the body is prepared, you can cut no corners. Health and safety should be a priority always when cooking. It might be an art form, but there is no use in preparing delicious food if it’s going to give you food poisoning.