Can a knife be the perfect gift?

There’s an old superstition in which it’s bad luck to give a knife as a gift. Say you’ve found the perfect knife to gift to a friend or family member, but maybe you or the recipient are extremely superstitious. If this is the case, don’t worry! We’ll discuss the different ways in which you can overcome these negative connotations surround giving a knife as a gift.

Can a knife be the perfect gift?

As you may probably know, it is sometimes very difficult to find a suitable gift for a friend or family member, especially if they’re somebody that has everything they need. Choosing a gift for someone can be an extremely tough and time-consuming task, as you need to find something that is either thoughtful, useful, or a combination of both so the recipient will feel appreciated and thankful every time they use or see the gift. The gift also needs to be affordable and within your budget, but not appear too cheap as well.

If you’re in this situation, why not consider a kitchen knife? A kitchen knife, or any knife for that matter, is a timeless and useful gift. Knives or knife sets can be customized in many different ways, engraved, and made to fit either left or right-handed users. There are knives built for a wide range of activities to be used by all sorts of people including cooking lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, survivalists, and DIYers. Because of the versatility of knives, you can give them as gifts for any occasion, including birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, or promotions. Before you do, however, be mindful that some people view gifting knives as something that brings extremely bad luck.

Cultural aspects of knife-giving

For superstitious people, gifting a knife represents the severing of the friendship between the giver and recipient. The only way around this is to attach a coin of symbolic value to the knife.

If a coin is attached to the knife by the giver, the coin must be promptly removed by the recipient and returned to the giver as a symbolic payment. This transaction prevents the relationship from severing, as the knife is seen as purchased, which releases the giver from the negativities that might occur as a result of receiving the knife for free.

Global superstition?

Knife-gifting superstitions exist around the world and isn’t a cultural phenomenon. Europeans and Japanese people both believe that gifting a knife represents the severing of a relationship, and they also believe gifting a watch as meaning that time is running out.

Giving a knife as a wedding gift is considered extremely bad luck because it represents the cutting of the marriage ties. Similarly, pocketknives should only be handed to someone if it’s been properly secured, as it’s believed that it may cause an argument. If there’s been a death in the family, another superstition insists that knives should only be used when needed and must be carefully handled.

If you’re considering buying a knife for someone you know as a gift and this superstition makes you hesitant, there are things you can try to help ease your doubts. First, you can try keeping a knife in a jar of water by the front and back doors of a home. This is believed to help ward off evil spirits. The spirits are afraid of their reflections in water and on the knives’ surface. You can also attach a coin to the knife as we mentioned above. Both tricks can help you get around this troubling superstition.

Why do Japanese knives make great gifts?

For centuries, Japanese blacksmith has been experimenting and making some of the world’s best swords and cutlery out of steel. Throughout the ages, the Japanese have been known for crafting the best saws, swords, knives, and chisels. Today, Japanese craftsmen still employ the ancient crafting techniques similar to what was done centuries ago, however they’re not able to combine with knowledge with modern technology to create some of the most beautiful and versatile cutting instruments in the world. Their ability to manipulate steel is something that is unrivalled. The beauty of Japanese knives is that they still feature traditional Japanese wooden handles, as well as a tapered tang that fits in a hole which is burned into the wooden handle. They’re also tempered to a higher Rockwell hardness than most Western knives, and this enables Japanese knives to have superior edge sharpness and better edge retention. All this combined with the unique and traditional Japanese designs make Japanese knives a perfect gift idea, and you’ll be sure your recipient will be wowed by it.

How to Prevent Carbon Steel Knives from Rusting

When compared to stainless steel, carbon steel knives are sharper, easier to sharpen, and are great at maintaining a sharp edge. One downside of these knives, however, is that they require more maintenance than stainless steel knives and are prone to rust if they’re not maintained properly.

Over time, steel will change color as it oxidizes and reacts with the moisture and air around it. You’ll often see steel knives take on shades of blue, grey, and black. This is normal and is called a patina. Patina is good for your knife and actually helps your knife in its battle against rust. It’s a natural protective layer on carbon steels that protects the blade from oxidation and gives it a rough look. If your knife starts turning red, yellow, or orange, then your knife is rusting, and you’ll need to clean it as soon as possible.

To prevent rusting, it’s recommended that you wash and dry your knife after every use. Another way to help keep your knife rust free is to apply blade oil to it regularly. Blade oil helps keep off the ambient moisture in the air when your knife is in storage. Best of all, this oil doesn’t affect the performance of your knife at all when you use it to cut acidic foods.

While patina is a form of corrosion and common on knives that have aged, there are ways to force an early patina onto carbon steel to give your knife an early edge in the fight against rust.

How to force a patina on your carbon steel?

To force an early patina on your carbon steel, you’ll need to pick up the material below:

  • Pre-ground instant coffee (i.e. Folgers, Nescafe, inexpensive generic store brands). The less expensive, the better.
  • A coffee brewing machine to brew the instant coffee
  • Something tall and slender with a cavity, such as a flower vase. XL To-Go Coffee Cups work as well
  • Your carbon steel knife
  • A small sponge or dish cloth

Step 1: Brew the instant coffee

Take your instant coffee and brew it. Brew the strongest pot of coffee possible, then chill it. Before we perform this process, the coffee will need to be cold.

Step 2: Submerge your blade in the coffee

Next, take your flower vase, or anything tall and skinny in general, and place the small sponge or dish cloth at the bottom. Put your knife, tip down, into the vase gently, then pour in the chilled coffee until it covers the entire length of the blade. Make sure to only submerge the blade in coffee, and not the handle. Leave the knife in the coffee for at least 6-8 hours. Overnight is ideal, however knives left in the coffee for at least 24 hours will create the most striking effect.

Step 3: Remove the blade

After 6 to 24 hours have passed, remove the knife from the coffee. Wipe it down with a damp cloth and thoroughly dry it. You’ll see now that your knife has undergone an incredible transformation and features a beautiful looking patina. It’ll now also be much easier to maintain and will be much more resistant to rust than before. Despite the protective patina, also make sure to wipe down the blade after every use and keep it clean and dry always.

Step 4: Honing the knife

Coffee-induced patinas aren’t as acidic as vinegar or lemon patinas, but they’re still acidic enough to have reduced some of the polish on your cutting edge. You should always hone and strop before the last (optional) step.

Step 5: (Optional)

Coffee has a strong smell, and as the blade has been left in coffee for up to 24 hours, you’ll want to get rid of some of that smell. To do this, we recommend cutting up yellow onions which will help pull out some of the coffee fragrance.

While forcing a patina helps your knife in its battle against rust, be mindful that it will permanently alter the look of your knife, including the finish. If you like the way your knife looks now, we’d suggest letting the patina form naturally over time.

History of Sushi

The beginning of Sushi

The history of sushi is an interesting tale. While sushi has been around for a long period of time, it has evolved from what was originally a simple dish to what it is today in its present form. The first mention of sushi was in China during the second century A.D., when it was used as a way of preserving food. The fish were placed in rice and allowed to ferment, which kept the fish edible for longer periods of time. When ready to eat, the rice would be thrown away, leaving the fermented fish.

For centuries, this method of preserving fish would spread throughout China, and by the seventh century, it would make its way to Japan where seafood has historically been a staple dish. The Japanese would take this concept one step further, and began to eat the rice along with the fish. Originally, sushi was prepared in the same as it is today, however during the early 17th century, Matsumoto Yoshiichi of Edo (present-day Tokyo), began seasoning the rice with rice wine vinegar to give it extra taste and began selling this new type of sushi. This new way of creating sushi allowed the dish to be eaten immediately.

The Evolution of Sushi

In the early 19th century, a Japanese man from Edo (former name of Tokyo) named Hanaya Yohei began changing the way sushi was produced and presented. Instead of wrapping fish in rice, he placed a piece of fresh fish on top of an oblong shaped piece of seasoned rice. Today, we call this style of sushi and presentation ‘nigiri’ meaning finger sushi, or ‘edomae’. This is now the common way of eating Japanese sushi. During the early 19th century, sushi was served from stalls on the street and was meant to be a snack or a quick on-the-go meal. This type of ‘fast food’ sushi proved to be wildly popular, and soon stalls would pop up all over the country selling sushi. The aftermath of the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923 would also help fuel the rapid rise of street sushi stalls throughout Japan, as many people lost their homes and jobs and moved away from Tokyo.

After World War 2, street sushi stalls were shut down for hygiene and sanitary reasons and were moved indoors. This move indoors meant formal restaurant seating was added, and changed sushi from an on-the-go, fast food experience to a unique, sophisticated, true dining experience. Sushi would spread across the globe with the promotion of seafood, and Western cultures, who were always eager to try something new, would quickly adopt this unusual way of serving fish.

Modern Sushi

The history of sushi spans over 1800 years, and its current iteration is one of the world’s most famous and beloved foods. Once uniquely Japanese, sushi has truly evolved into something that is now beyond traditional Japanese cuisine. Western influences have sprouted new styles of sushi such as the Philly Roll and California Roll, and many restaurants also create elaborate rolls to offer even more variety on their menus. It’s not often that a cultural food can take the world by storm and also influence foods from countries around the world, however sushi has done exactly that. The demand for sushi is increasing, and sushi continues to evolve in many different ways. The history of sushi is far from over.

Today, sushi can be a quick, on-the-go meal or a high-end dining experience. In Japan, sushi bars can be found in a train station, on the street, and in shopping malls. In North America, sushi packs are available in almost all supermarkets and almost every shopping mall food court has a sushi stand. There are also sushi restaurants everywhere that can range from affordable, to high-end luxurious experiences. You can see how versatile sushi is!

How to Clean Your Knives – the RIGHT Way!

Before how to do go about cleaning your knife set the right way, lets talk about the WRONG way – or what NOT to do…

DO NOT WASH YOUR KNIVES IN THE DISHWASHER.

Do you like your knives? Did you pay a lot of money for them? Do you like their clean, sharp edge? Do you like the way your knives reflect the light while you use them? The way their blades cut through food with hardly any effort? If you like any or all of those things, don’t put your knives in the dishwasher! If you like rusty, dull, ugly, useless knives then toss in your dishwasher. No dishwashers!

DON’T SOAK YOUR KNIVES IN HOT WATER.

Don’t fill up your sink with soapy water and dump your knives in. This is a good way to damage the edges (knives banging into other knives, into the sink, etc…) It’s also a good way to cut yourself (reaching into a soapy sink and grabbing for incredibly sharp knives is probably only slightly dumber than stinking your hand into a bucket of piranhas) If your knives have wooden handles, the water can warp the wood and make handle have a wobbly hold on the blade.

Ok, enough with the don’t, on to the do’s…

Immediately after you’re done using your knife rinse the blade with warm soapy water. Do not soak, but make that the soapy water gets on every part of the blade that could have come in contact with food. Any food residue left on the blade could damage the knife, and if you’ve been cutting foods like raw meat or fish, your knife could be carrying dangerous germs if not cleaned properly.

Rinse all the soap off with more warm water – soapy food does not taste good! Soap residue could damage your knife if left on the blade!

Get a Soft bristle brush – not a brillo pad, not a sponge, not a washcloth. Put your freshly washed knife down on the counter, and use that brush to brush your blade clean. If necessary, wash in warm soapy water again.

Hand dry your knives. The faster you dry them, the less of chance for rust or corrosion to take place. Fold a towel several times so that you’re sure you won’t cut yourself and then use that to dry the knife.

Store your knives in a dry, secure area where they won’t get splashed with anything, and can’t be knocked over by accident.
Now you have no more excuses! Keep those knives clean and rust free!