7 Knife Tips Everyone Needs to Hear, According to an Expert at Zwilling

published Jun 13, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

There are certain brands we turn to time and time again because we know they make quality products that are built to last. One brand that comes to mind? Zwilling. The German company — which is also behind Staub, Henckels, Miyabi, Ballarini, and Demeyere — makes some of our absolute favorite knives (as well pans, storage containers, small appliances, and so much more).

Today actually marks Zwilling’s 290th birthday (the company started back in 1731!). Like we said, built to last. To celebrate, we reached out to Gregor Messner, Zwilling’s global head of innovation manager, and asked him some of our most pointed knife-related questions. (Sorry! ) Here’s what he had to say.

1. A good chef’s knife is key.

If a home cook was only going to buy one knife, we wanted Messner to pick out which one it should be. “Zwilling Pro 8-Inch Chef’s Knife is the workhorse of the kitchen,” he says. “It has a perfect combination of sharpness, comfort, and durability. It will be your go-to knife and will last to pass along to the next generation. It’s the best kitchen investment I can think of.”

2. You should take a new knife for a test-run.

Let’s say you just got a brand-new knife. Congratulations! Messner has directions for the very first thing you should do: “Wash off the knife, pull out a cutting board, and slice a tomato to test.” This will help you get used to the knife. Also: The more you use it, the more comfortable you’ll get.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

3. It’s best to knife shop in person.

“I still believe that the best way to buy a knife is in person. Go into a good kitchen store and ask to give several knives a ‘test drive,'” Messner says. “Hold several in your hand. A good store will have something for you to cut — carrots, celery, potatoes.” Also, a knife is a personal decision. “There is no one right knife for everyone. Try them out and see what is right for you.”

Tip: Test out knives in a store and then, when you’re ready to buy one, you can look online to see where you can find the best deal.  

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. It’s okay if your knife takes a spin through the dishwasher.

Don’t make a habit of it, but know that a good knife should be able to withstand the occasional dishwasher cycle. “If it’s a German Zwilling knife (excluding wooden-handled knives), there shouldn’t be a problem. They are dishwasher-safe,” Messner says. For what it’s worth, Ina puts her knives in the dishwasher!

5. Not all knife blocks are bad! 

Kitchn editors are generally not fans of knife blocks. (Usually, they’re sold in a set with way too many knives that people just don’t need. And the blocks can dull the blades as you return and remove the knives.) But Messner has us rethinking things after he pointed out his favorite options: either a self sharpening block, which keeps the factory edge, or a magnetic knife bar, which leaves the knives easy to reach and frees up counter space.

6. You’re probably not sharpening your knives often enough! 

How often do you need to sharpen your knives? “If you have a self-sharpening block, you are all set,” Messner says. “The built-in ceramic sharpening stones will sharpen the knife when the knife is removed from and returned to the block. Each slot is designed for a specific knife so that each blade is sharpened at the optimal angle.”

“Otherwise, it does depend on how often knives are used and the cutting surface used. If you use your knives daily and cut on a wood board or a good plastic board, once a month. A good test to see if your knife is dull is trying to slice a tomato. If it does not easily glide through the tomato, it is time to sharpen.”

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

7. Your cutting board matters more than you think.

“Make sure you are using the right cutting surface — because every slice ends on the material you are cutting on,” Messner points out. “Avoid surfaces that can dull or damage your knife such as china, marble, granite, tile, or glass. Cutting surfaces should be smooth and easy to clean, and ‘give’ on contact with the knife’s edge.” We recommend wooden or quality plastic cutting boards

A special note: To celebrate their birthday, Zwilling is offering a free Fresh & Save plastic starter set ($99 value) if you spend $100 (today only!).

Do you have a knife-related question? Leave it in the comments!