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When it comes to knives, you need the durability and sharpness that comes with a commercial knife. Unlike your at-home varieties, commercial cutlery is designed to stay as sharp as possible for longer. Because when it comes to knives, a dull knife will always be the most dangerous tool you have in the kitchen because there's a higher risk of it sliding and cutting your hand; at that point you not only have an injured employee on your hands, but it'll drastically impact the speed and efficiency of your kitchen. Maintaining sharp cutlery isn't just about getting the perfect slice every time, it's about keeping you and your employees safe.
Every knife, set of sheers and sharpeners serve a purpose. Start with your go-to Chef's knife, then whittle down into specialty knives designed to make certain tasks easier. For example, an oyster knife features a shorter, duller blade than a paring knife and acts as a lever to pry open stubborn shells. Bread knives are completely opposite, and featuring long narrow blades which are often serrated to cut through crusty breads without crushing its delicate interior.
When purchasing a commercial knife, be sure you take note of the type of steel the blade is made from. VG-10 is a high-end, high-carbon stainless steel that is not only rust-resistant, but its strength helps it hold an edge well. VG-10 steel does come at a higher price, so if you're looking for something at a lower cost, 420HC is a suitable alternative; not to be confused with 420 stainless steel, 420HC is a high carbon version of steel that is rust resistant, has good edge retention and provides good abrasion resistance.
Finally, commercial knives come with a variety of different knife handle styles and materials including wood, stainless steel and plastic. Choosing a handle material is entirely up to the chef's preference; stainless steel is great for sanitation and durability, but the warmth and feel of the wood fits comfortably in many palms.
Sharpening Versus Honing Your Knife
Contrary to popular belief, a sharpening rod doesn't sharpen anything. One of the greatest misnomers in the cutlery industry, a sharpening rod (or as some prefer to call it, a honing rod) is designed to bring a blade's edge back to center. Because an offset blade can cause some wonky cuts, it's incorrectly assumed that the rod sharpened the blade because your cuts suddenly appear better.
Sorry to say, your blade isn't sharper, it's just straighter.
Sharpening the knife, on the other hand, involves removing a thin layer of steel from the blade.
Sharpening can be done with either manual or electric knife sharpeners, or sharpening stones (also known as whetstones). You should only need to sharpen your knife a few times a year, though low-quality knives may dull more quickly. Keep in mind that the more you sharpen your knife, the shorter it's knife, so keep that in mind if a higher initial cost of a knife makes you wary.
Knife Bags and Storage
Commercial knives are an investment so protect them! Resist the urge to casually throw a knife in a drawer or leave on the counter, which could drastically reduce its life. Knife bags are ideal for caterers and those traveling to events and often feature special compartments, secured buckles and zippers which keep knives safe during transport. Many manufacturers like Victorinox, Winco and Mercer also make knife guards (also known as knife pouches) to protect the blade of the knife even while it's in the bag. In the kitchen, opt for a knife block, or our favorite, a magnetic strip which saves you counter space and stows your knives securely on the wall.