Answer: A dull knife because it requires more force to press through the food, increasing the odds the blade may roll , which could be dangerous.
My friend Camilla, a chef in Sydney, once told me she sharpens her blades prior to every use because even a few minutes of cutting can cause the blade to feel slightly dull. And a sharp knife, aside from being safer to use, makes for faster prep in the kitchen.
I now try to sharpen my knives before each use as well. I sometimes forget, but that’s the aim. I’ve been using a basic honing steel forever which seems to do the trick — I can tell a big difference between prepping vegetables before and after sharpening — but I recently read an article in Cook’s Illustrated (my go-to guide for all things culinary) that honing steels don’t actually sharpen the blade but merely straighten the cutting edge.
“As a knife is used, the cutting edge tends to bend and fold over slightly, giving the perception of a less sharp knife. Running the edge of a knife across a steel straightens the edge, making the knife perform better. A knife sharpener, on the other hand, actually removes metal from the blade’s edge, creating a new surface for cutting.”
There are all sorts of fancy electric sharpeners out there, but my cozy kitchen is officially out of space for such kitchen gadgets. Thankfully, CI recommends a low-tech, high performing manual model that retails for less than $10.
Good to know. Thanks, Camilla and CI!