Many things need maintenance in your life—cars, pets, even your own health. But there’s probably one thing in your kitchen that you don’t ever think needs a check up here and there, and that’s your go-to knife.
Slicing and dicing ingredients on a daily basis is no easy feat for you, let alone the selection of knifes that are doing the dirty work every day. And there’s many, many ways that your knife can suddenly become duller than you’d ever think it could—whether you put your knifes through the dishwasher, leave them in a pile in a kitchen drawer where they scratch and ding one another, or use a glass cutting board.
Don’t think you should care too much whether or not your blades are dull? Think again.
Dull knifes can be the prime reason for many kitchen accidents when it comes to your own home: if you need to exert additional and unnecessary force to slice through ingredients, there’s a greater chance of having that blade slip and forcefully move into another unwanted direction. Why make 15 tough cuts for something that normally only requires one or two slices?
How can you tell if you’re blade is in need of some sharpening?
There’s actually quite a few methods of home-testing this: cutting through printer paper, glossy magazine paper, slicing the cover off a printed magazine or booklet, or even trying to give your arm hairs a trim.
We definitely don’t recommend running a blade along your arm (nor do we ever want you to use Cooking Light pages as a test for your knife!), so we have another solution.
There’s a simple test to figuring out whether or not it’s time for you to invest in a honing steel, which is a handy tool that can help correct any mistreatment of your knife and bring the blade back to quality sharpness.
It’s known as the tomato test, and it’s something you probably try out more than once a week:
1) Place a beefsteak tomato on a cutting board with the stem facing up.
2) Balance your knife on the top of the tomato without applying any pressure.
3) Pull the knife back towards you and do not press down.
If your blade penetrates the skin of the tomato, you have a sharp knife and should rejoice. But don’t fret if the knife fails to make anything but a dent in your tomato – the honing steel is a great way to give second life to your favorite knife.
And if all else fails, there are professional sharpeners in your area if you need them. Get to it, and watch those fingers!
This story originally appeared on Cookinglight.com.