If you are a home cook, you probably often wonder how to take care of your appliances. Food processors are more challenging to maintain than some other electronics due to the many moving parts and potential for food to get into tight spaces.
But just as importantly, owners want to know if food processor blades get dull, and if so, how to prevent it.
Food processor blades do get dull over time as the steel edge wears down. However, careful use and maintenance can help keep them sharp longer. Don’t wash your food processor blades in a dishwasher or use abrasive cleaners. Also, keep the blades away from other sharp hard items to avoid damage.
In this post, you will learn all about why food processor blades get dull. I will also discuss ways to slow down the process and use the same blade for longer.
I will present this information in three primary sections:
- The physics of cutting and how it matters for steel blades
- Uses for your food processor that can make the edges get dull faster
- How to keep your food processor blades from going dull quickly
How the Physics of Cutting Works, and Why It Matters
To know why food processor blades get dull, it’s essential to understand how blades work. While food processor blades are round in shape and have multiple edges, they work the same way as other blades. So, they’re subject to the same wear and tear as scissors, knives, razor blades, and even a cheese grater.
Blades Work by Displacing Material
At their most basic level, blades work by displacing molecules of the material you’re trying to cut. Displacement happens whether you’re cutting lettuce, potatoes, or nuts, but the amount of force required to make a gap between molecules is different.
The blade gradually creates and widens the gap. Eventually, the divide gets so big that there are two pieces of that material rather than one.
On the other hand, dull blades have more difficulty displacing material. When the cutting edge of any blade is blunt, that means it is wider. In turn, a wider surface has a more challenging time separating material and forming a cut. Reduced effectiveness makes a knife less accurate and can even result in injury.
Food processor blades are similar in that they become less effective as they get dull.
Food Processor Blades Wear Down With Continued Use
Cutting instruments get worn down as people use them, and food processor blades are no exception. As blades pass through the material they’re cutting, the material removes a tiny amount of the blade. Because the wear is uneven, the sharpness of each cutting surface varies.
In some places the surface remains sharp, while in others it becomes less effective.
Think about this in terms of an object you’re more familiar with: fingernails. For many of us, nails that have been freshly trimmed and filed are smooth and sharp. You can easily scratch things, or remove a sticky label from a bottle. However, over time your nail edge probably gets jagged and harder to use for these tasks.
Similarly, food processor blades are subject to wear and tear from use. Like your nail or a knife, the edge becomes less effective as you use it. Blades also become thicker as they are worn down, contributing to dullness. The removal of some of your food processor blades through use would only keep it sharp if the wear was even and made the metal taper to the end like it once did.
Using a Food Processor Blade Makes It Bend Over Time
Of course, this makes us wonder the extent to which materials help keep blades sharp. When we think of blade thickness and sharpness, it’s easy to wonder why a blade made from thicker metal gets dull. Most of us are used to equating thickness in metal with durability, and food processor blades are relatively heavy.
This point is great to some extent, but blade thickness doesn’t tell the whole story. Here, it is the thickness at the edge of a blade which is more important. As food processor blades make contact with the food, the cutting edge bends, expanding the surface area and dulling the blade.
Bending, then, contributes to blades getting dull just as much as the wear-down from materials it cuts.
Other Factors That Contribute to Dull Food Processor Blades
As I have demonstrated above, food processor blades do get dull during use. However, this isn’t the only cause of blade dulling. Other factors such as storage and handling can also contribute.
Poor Storage Habits
One of the reasons I see people complain about dull food processor blades is their storage habits. In many homes, kitchen appliances are shoved into a cabinet or storage drawer whatever way they fit. They might have a blender carafe next to some pie pans and use the food processor as a storage space for muffin papers or small tools.
Unfortunately, putting a bunch of hard objects too close to your food processor blades risks dulling them. Remember, the cutting edge of your blade is thin and delicate, so it can easily be nicked or bent. Even brief encounters between sharp edges and hardened objects can do damage.
Although it’s tempting to put your food processor parts in the dishwasher, this is not a good idea. Blades can lose their sharpness if they’re exposed to high temperatures, rough water sprays, and chemically abrasive cleaners.
Dishwashers should only clean more durable items, such as plates and glasses, which don’t have delicate parts. Remember, your food processor blade has dozens of small cutting edges, each of which bends and corrodes quickly.
Similarly, you want to be careful about using abrasive hand washing cleaners or scouring pads. While most of us use these for pots and pans, they are inappropriate for food processor blades. Abrasives wear away the surfaces of your blades, making them less sharp.
Poor Usage Techniques
Finally, if you don’t use your food processor the right way, you can dull the blades quickly. A common mistake home cooks make is not breaking down food items before putting them in the food processor. Some squashes, for instance, have a tough shell that can dull the blade quickly.
You’ll want to remove the hard parts with a knife before using the food processor.
How To Keep Your Food Processor Blade Sharper
Preventing your food processor blade from becoming dull in the long term is almost impossible. However, by following a few simple rules, you can keep those blades sharp for several years, even with regular use.
Store Your Blades Carefully
For the most part, you should store your food processor blades inside the bowl. Experts recommend this for two main reasons. First, it keeps all of your food processor parts together, so you won’t have to look for them.
Secondly, the blade won’t get exposed to things that can damage them, so long as the bowl is otherwise empty. The plastic of the food processor bowl will help keep other items away from the sharp edges of your blades. Also, the blades won’t knock against the sides of the bowl, and they’ll stay sharp.
Use Proper Washing Techniques
Besides storing your food processor blades properly, keeping them sharp requires proper washing. As I said above, using abrasives wears down the edges. As an alternative, consider Dawn Dish Soap and Non-Abrasive Sponges. The Dawn cuts grease while the sponges gently wipe away food residue.
Then, rinse your food processor blades in clear running water.
Once you’ve cleaned the food off, it’s essential to dry your blades carefully. You should use soft, absorbent towels, preferably made of cotton, such as these Bumble Premium Kitchen Towels. Then, lay the blade on another towel to let any remaining moisture evaporate, carefully safeguarding the sharp edges.
Finally, reassemble your food processor and return it to storage.
Avoid Adding Hard Objects to Your Food Processor Bowl
Be careful what you put in the food processor bowl. You should always remove any inedible parts of the food before putting them in the processor, such as the hard rind of a squash. Be careful to remove all the pits and cut your food items into manageable pieces before processing them.
You May Be Able To Sharpen Your Food Processor Blade
One way in which food processor blades are different from knife blades is in the sharpening method. Many people find that sharpening a kitchen knife is easy if they have a proper knife sharpener and some time. However, food processor blades are much more difficult.
The “chopper” blade is the easiest one to sharpen because it only has two pinwheel-style curved edges. These can be sharpened by rubbing the blade on a sharpening stone. However, the curved blade is much more difficult due to the many edges involved.
If you aren’t comfortable sharpening a food processor blade, it’s often easy to replace them. Most manufacturers offer extra blades on their websites. This replacement should be done when the blades no longer cut food efficiently.