A. Knife Sharpener Frequently Asked Questions

I have never owned a knife sharpener. Why do I need one?

Knives are among the most used items in a kitchen. A sharp knife is actually safer to use than a dull knife. It won’t slip, requires less pressure and is a joy to use. Once you experience a truly sharp knife you will never believe you survived so long with a dull one.

I have my knives professionally sharpened. Why do I need my own sharpener?

Most people who use professional sharpening services wait until their knives are quite dull to have them sharpened. At that point, the only way to restore a sharp edge is by removing a substantial amount of metal during sharpening. With the Brød & Taylor sharpener, it is fast and easy to maintain a sharp edge at home, without the removal of any metal. This greatly reduces or even eliminates the need for reshaping the blade by removing metal. Besides avoiding the hassle and expense of taking your knives out to have them sharpened, you have the bonus of using a sharp knife every day.

How is the Brød & Taylor Knife Sharpener different from other sharpeners?

Traditional sharpening uses abrasives to grind away metal. Coarse abrasives can remove metal quickly, but they leave a rough edge. Fine abrasives work slowly. Abrasive materials become clogged with metal dust and can quickly loose effectiveness. Electric systems generate heat and must be used very carefully, or they can quickly damage a blade.

The Brød & Taylor sharpener uses an extremely hard tungsten carbide sharpening surface that can actually cut a smooth bevel on a steel blade with a few quick strokes. More importantly, the sharpener will hone (fine sharpen) a blade without removing any metal. Regular honing will keep a knife sharp, reduce the need for removing metal from the blade edge, and greatly extend the life of a blade.

Can the sharpener damage my knives?

The Brød & Taylor sharpener is safe for virtually all types of metal knives (it will not sharpen ceramic knives). It is extremely easy to use, but you should read the instructions carefully. If you have used a traditional abrasive sharpener, you may be surprised how quickly the coarse sharpen technique will shape a blade. Only a few strokes are needed to shape the bevel on a dull knife. Use a light pressure and let the sharpener do the work.

Honing (fine sharpening) and polishing do not remove any metal from the blade. In most cases, only the honing and polishing techniques should be used on fine knives such as those with Damascus steel blades. Fine knives often have a very small bevel angle that could be altered by coarse sharpening.

Do I need to understand the technology behind knife sharpening?

Absolutely not. With the Brød & Taylor sharpener, anyone can sharpen a knife in seconds. No special skill or training is required.

How do knives become dull?

Seems like a silly question, but it is perhaps one of the most important ones. Sharp knives begin to dull when the knife is used to cut or chop, causing the very edge of the blade to begin to bend and fold away – even microscopically. Eventually these areas break off and leave a dull edge. To keep a blade sharp, these bends need to be regularly pushed back into shape before they can cause damage to the blade. This can be achieved by regularly honing (fine sharpening) the knife. No metal is removed and the life of the blade is extended, because the need for coarse sharpening and removing metal from the blade edge is greatly reduced.

How often do I need to sharpen a knife?

Knives should be honed (fine sharpened) frequently. Daily honing is best. No metal is removed and keeping the blade sharp actually extends the life of the blade. With frequent honing, you may never need to coarse sharpen your knife.

How does the sharpener adjust to different blade angles?

The patented spring-action sharpening bars allow the blade to float, and automatically accommodate the natural angle of the knife’s bevel. If you press down harder on the blade, the angle of the bevel will increase. In general, just use a light touch and let the blade glide through. A very light pressure can be used for more delicate blades such as knives for filleting fish (blade angle is 12 degrees). For more rugged blades than will stand up to rough chopping, a heavy pressure can be used (blade angle is 20 degrees).

Can the sharpener be used on ceramic blades?

No. The Brød & Taylor sharpening surfaces are extremely hard (HRC 95), but are designed only for use on metal blades. Most high-quality knives have blades with hardness in the HRC 60-69 range.

What materials are the sharpeners made of?

The sharpening bars are very rigid PA66 Nylon plastic. The sharpening surfaces are ultra-hard tungsten carbide (HRC 95). The Professional Sharpener’s base and springs are made of solid stainless steel. The base of the Classic model is also PA66 Nylon, while the Pocket and Basic models are made of rugged ABS plastic.

How long will the sharpeners last?

With normal household use, Brød & Taylor sharpeners are expected to last more than 5 years. Replacement sharpening bars are available for the Professional and Classic Models.

Are replacement sharpeners available?

Yes. Replacement sharpening bars are available for the Professional and Classic knife Sharpeners. They are not available for the folding models (Pocket and Basic).
Knife Sharpener Replacement Blades

What is the best way to clean the sharpener?

A small soft brush (such as an inexpensive, synthetic bristle paint brush) can be used to dust off any reside from sharpening. Wipe the body with a damp towel to keep stainless steel glistening. When necessary, the sharpeners can be rinsed or washed with warm, soapy water, then wiped dry with a soft cloth.

Is the Brød & Taylor sharpener faster than traditional sharpeners with stones?

Sharpening with stones or other abrasives requires many steps from coarse to fine. Each step must eliminate all the scratches from the previous to achieve a good result. The tungsten carbide system works much faster with a better result.

Will the sharpener make a knife sharper than traditional stone sharpening?

A skilled craftsmen with a full set of sharpening stones, such as expensive Japanese water stones or synthetic diamond stone, can create a blade of unrivaled sharpness (sometimes called “scary sharp,” such as a surgical scalpel). Mastering this sharpening skill takes the right equipment and years of practice. Practically speaking, knives this sharp are not required, or even desired, in the kitchen. With the Brød & Taylor sharpener, anyone can create an extremely sharp blade for kitchen use in seconds. The sharpener is so quick and easy to use, you will find yourself honing your knives regularly, so knives stay sharp.

Can I sharpen scissors?

No, these sharpeners are not designed for sharpening scissors.

What other things can I sharpen?

The Professional and Classic countertop models excel at a variety of curved blades, such as hooked paring knives. Woodworkers will be surprised at how easy it is to sharpen carving knives and even draw knife blades.

I have used other sharpeners with tungsten carbide that performed poorly. Why is this sharpener better?

There are many different grades of tungsten carbide, they are not all created equal. It is definitely a case of getting what you pay for. Bargain-bin, so-called tungsten carbide sharpeners are little more than poor quality sheet metal. Brød & Taylor’s tungsten carbide is extremely hard (Rockwell hardness HRC 95 — much harder than knives, which fall into the HRC 60-70 range) and is precision-ground with a very sharp cutting edge and polished, flat surfaces for honing and polishing. Visually compare the sharpeners to any other product and the difference is obvious.

B. Questions About Knife Sharpening Techniques

Does the sharpener remove any metal from the blade when fine sharpening (honing) or polishing?

Honing (fine sharpening) does not remove metal from the blade. The corners of the tungsten carbide sharpening bars push any irregularities or micro-bends in the blade edge back to an optimum “V” shape. Polishing knife edges is optional. It uses the flat, smooth surfaces of the sharpening bars to burnish the blade at an angle slightly greater than the bevel angle (sometimes called a micro-bevel). This is the same technique used to produce razor blades, it produces the sharpest edge.

How often should I hone (fine sharpen) compared to coarse sharpen?

Honing (fine sharpening) can and should be performed often, daily is best. With honing, no metal is removed and the blade is kept at optimum sharpness. If a knife is honed daily, it may never get dull enough to require coarse sharpening.

Coarse sharpening is generally done only when a blade has become very dull. For a good quality knife, a good ratio to remember is 100 strokes honing (fine sharpen) to 1 stroke coarse sharpen.

How long does it take to sharpen a knife?

Sharpening with the Brød & Taylor sharpener only takes a few seconds. For a very dull knife, 4-6 strokes of coarse sharpening followed by 4-6 strokes of honing (fine sharpening) will give good results. If desired, use the Polish technique after honing to achieve an extra degree of sharpness.

How do you sharpen a serrated knife?

How to sharpen serrated knives

How to sharpen serrated knives

To sharpen a serrated knife, first inspect the blade edge and notice that one side is flat and the other is beveled (most serrated knives are beveled on the right as the knives are held in cutting position). For a knife that is beveled on the right, place it in the center “V” of the sharpener, then pivot the knife by moving the handle to the right so that the beveled knife edge is touching the silver-colored sharpening bar on the right. Pull the blade smoothly through the sharpener without twisting. The spring-loaded sharpening bar on the right side will hug the curve of each serration, sharpening the entire length of the blade and not just the points.

For a blade that is beveled on the left, follow the same technique except pivot the knife handle to the left, so that the beveled edge touches the sharpening bar on the left.

Why would I want a specific angle on a knife blade?

Fine angle blades (such as a narrow angle of 12 degrees) are better for slicing and delicate work such as filleting. However, they will dull more quickly. A wider angle (such as 20 degrees) will hold up better to jobs such as rough chopping.

I notice small shavings of metal after pre-sharpening (coarse sharpening). Is this ruining my knife?

Sharpening a very dull or nicked knife requires removing metal. Abrasive sharpeners create metal dust that often becomes embedded in the sharpener itself. The Brød & Taylor sharpener is not abrasive — it actually cuts the metal blade to a precise angle. The operation is very quick and can create small shavings of metal. This is analogous to the advanced technology used to make parts in computer-controlled machining equipment. In all cases, after sharpening, blades should be wiped clean with a damp cloth.

How many times do I need to pull the knife through the sharpener to coarse sharpen?

Generally, 4-6 strokes is all that is required, even on the dullest knives. Inspect the blade after a few strokes, it may sharpen faster than you expect.

What is the difference between honing (fine sharpening) and polishing?

Honing (fine sharpening) uses the corner of the tungsten carbide sharpening bars to push any irregularities or micro-bends on blade edges back into an optimal “V” shape. For honing to be effective, the shape of the bevel must be correct and there must be an edge on the blade. Honing cannot create the proper bevel shape on a very dull knife, this needs to be done with coarse sharpening.

With polishing, the very edge of the blade glides through the V-shaped intersection created by the flat surfaces on the two sharpening bars. Since the tungsten carbide sharpening bars are much harder than the knife blade, the blade edge is burnished to a very smooth surface. With the sharpening bars held apart, the angle of the burnish is slightly greater than the angle of the bevel. This quickly creates a very small micro-bevel that is extremely sharp. In fact, a micro-bevel is the same technique used to create the sharp edge on razor blades.

Will the sharpener repair badly damaged knives?

Since the sharpeners are designed to follow the contours of the blade (enabling them to sharpen serrated knives), they will not necessarily remove extremely deep nicks or gouges in the blade. However, even badly damaged knives can be sharpened and honed effectively, and often be used successfully in spite of the flaws.

C. Folding Proofer Frequently Asked Questions

Why isn’t the air temperature inside my Proofer the same as the setting?

The Proofer is calibrated to keep the contents of a jar or bowl at the designated temperature setting not the air inside.

To test the temperature of the Proofer, fill a metal cup (about one cup/250ml) half full with room temperature water and place on the wire rack in the center of the Proofer. Set the Proofer to 84F/29C. Wait 60 minutes and then measure the temperature of the water. The water temperature should be within 1-2 degrees of the set point.

Heating in the Proofer takes place by two mechanisms: Convective and radiative heating. Convective heating occurs when the air in the Proofer is heated by the aluminum plate – then rises. It passes its heat energy into the object in the Proofer. Radiative heating occurs when the heat in the aluminum plate is passed directly to the object in the Proofer without heating the intervening air – just as when you feel the intense heat of a fire when you hold out your hand – it is much hotter than the surrounding air. This is why measurements of the air inside the Proofer will give unreliable readings.

Can the Proofer run for more than a few hours at a time?

Yes, the Proofer is durable and may be run continuously. It uses very little electricity, only about 30 watts per hour when set at 75F/24C.

What are the dimensions?

Dimensions

Folding Proofer
Inside (open): 14.75” x 12.5” x 8” high
Outside (open): 18” x 14.5” x 10.5” high
Outside (closed): 18” x 14.5” x 2.75” high
Weight: 7.5 lbs.

Inside (open):  37.5 cm x 32 cm x 20 cm high
Outside (open):  46 cm x 37 cm x 27 cm high
Outside (closed): 46 cm x 37 cm x 6.5 cm high
Weight: 3.4 kg

Find more on our Product Specifications page

I put bread dough in my Proofer and it doesn’t feel warm. Is it working properly?

If your Proofer was set to a cooler temp (75F/24C), it may not feel very warm to the touch even when it is working properly. To test it, or to speed rising, set it at 90-98F/32-35C and check for a pleasantly warm feel when you touch the center of the aluminum base plate. If you have been rising bread in an oven or other area that is quite warm, you may need to set the Proofer temperature higher to obtain similar results.

Will the Proofer work in any environment?

If the ambient temperature of the room where the Proofer is located is quite cool– lower than 59F/15C, or very warm- above 77F/25C, the temperature setting may need to be adjusted a few degrees higher or lower to achieve the desired result.

Does the Proofer have a thermostat?

Yes, there is a thermostat located in the base of the Proofer. The heating element cycles on and off according to the temperature of the aluminum plate. This cycling on and off occurs within a very narrow range, making the Proofer very accurate and reliable at maintaining a steady temperature.

Where Can I Download an Operating Manual?

Click on a link below to download an operating manual for the Folding Proofer. The FP-101 (120 volt) model is sold in the U.S. and Canada, and the FP-201 (240 volt) model is sold in Europe, Asia and Australia/Oceania.

FP-101 for the U.S. and Canada:
FP-101 Operating Manual and Recipes (English/French)

FP-201 for Europe, Asia and Australia/Oceania:
FP-201 Operating Manual French
FP-201 Operating Manual German
FP-201 Operating Manual Italian
FP-201 Operating Manual Russian
FP-201 Operating Manual Spanish
FP-201 Recipes (English)

The Proofer doesn’t seem to get hot enough at the higher end of its temperature range. Is it working properly?

The Proofer’s higher temperature range is designed to work well for making yogurt and cheese. For these processes, lids need to be on containers to prevent evaporation, heat loss, and contamination from the environment.

Mason Jars
For the best heat circulation and most accurate culturing temperature, avoid placing jars directly in the center of the Proofer. The Proofer will fit eight one quart (1 liter) mason jars without the need to place a jar in the center.

One Container
When using larger containers (such as one gallon / 4 liters of milk for cheesemaking), it is important to have the milk close to the set point of the Proofer at the start of the culturing process. A single large container will change temperature more slowly than a group of mason jars, which means it may take a long time to change the temperature of a gallon of milk. For a single, large container it is fine to place it in the center of the Proofer.

How do I fold my Proofer for storage?

1. Remove the rack and water tray. Fold the walls inward and lay them fl at in the base.
2. Place the water tray at the front.
3. Set the rack on top of the walls and water tray, top down with the feet facing up as in
photo A.
4. Position the rack so it is held in place by the cross guides, as shown in photo B.
5. Gently close the Proofer lid. It should click securely closed.

How to store the folding proofer

What is a Proofer or Proofing Box?

Attach the cord to the receptacle on the power panel then plug into an electrical outlet.

A Proofer creates a low-heat, humidity-controlled environment used in bread and pastry baking to provide the ideal conditions for the fermentation of yeast.

The Brød & Taylor Folding Proofer can also be used to make yogurt, melt and temper chocolate, and it is useful for other low-temperature food preparation processes.

How long should I preheat the Proofer?

Generally preheat for 10-15 minutes

temperature setting panelPress ON/OFF once to turn on the Proofer. The green power light will illuminate and the red heating light will light continuously while the Proofer is heating.

The red light will flash while maintaining temperature. Use the UP/DOWN buttons to adjust the temperature.

D. Questions About Making Bread in the Folding Proofer

Is there one temperature that works well for rising all types of bread?

The temperature we find ourselves setting over and over again is 80F/27C. This is a temperature that can work for nearly any type of bread, from sweet rolls to croissants to sourdough and even rye. Don’t hesitate to use a warmer setting (90-95F/32-35C) if you are in a hurry, but for many recipes 80F/27C represents a nice balance between a slower, more flavor-producing speed and a faster, more convenient speed.

Why can’t I just proof dough in my oven?

FWSY_Brown

This rustic mixed-grain boule had a robust, full flavor from a long, carefully-controlled fermentation in the Proofer.

Most ovens do not control temperature accurately below 200°F/93°C. Ovens are considered generally unpredictable for proofing, and even using oven lights for heating can result in overheating the dough and developing off flavors or killing yeast. Sourdough is particularly vulnerable to temperature variations.  Overly warm temperatures can kill off delicate wild yeast and produce dense, acidic and poorly risen bread.

Besides accuracy, using an oven for proofing presents timing challenges when you need the oven for other cooking.

Another timing challenge is that many recipes call for preheating the oven for an hour so that it is fully heated when bread dough goes in. That means that if you are using an oven to rise dough, it has to come out of the oven for up to an hour prior to baking. Having a separate, reliable Proofer provides much better control over practical considerations in baking.

See more under Bread Rising Tips.

Proofing bread at home… What have bakers been doing until now?

Dangerous makeshift proofing setup

Dangerous makeshift proofing setup

Until now, there has been no convenient counter top or Folding Proofer made specifically for home bakers for proofing bread at home.

Home bakers have resorted to makeshift styrofoam coolers with light bulbs, bathroom showers and other (sometimes dangerous) contraptions trying to create the perfect bread proofing environment.

Professionals with more space and money often invest in industrial proofing ovens or cabinets.

What is the difference between the Proofer and a bread machine?

The Folding Proofer is not a bread machine. It is a proofing environment for the fermenting and rising of yeast dough. It eliminates the troublesome temperature and humidity variables that have made it difficult for all bakers–beginners and professionals who bake bread at home. With the Folding Proofer, there is no longer a difficulty finding that “warm, draft free place” in your home for dough to rise. The Proofer makes it possible to bake bread at home with predictable, excellent results.

making bread

Compared to a loaf made in a bread machine, you will find hand-made bread has improved texture and taste. You will still mix your own dough and for some breads knead by hand or with a mixer. You will use your own pans or bake free-form loaves in traditional shapes.

Purists and novice bakers alike will tell you higher-quality, more delicious loaves are made with a temperature-controlled proofing environment and baking in a separate oven.

E. Questions About Making Yogurt in the Folding Proofer

Why shouldn’t I put yogurt jars directly over the center of the Proofer?

2 gallons/8 liters yogurt in prooferThe Proofer’s heat source is more concentrated in the center so that there will be enough warmth under the water tray to create humidity for rising bread. For yogurt making, a jar placed directly in the center may rise in temperature as high as 120F/49C, which could begin to damage some of the more delicate yogurt cultures. The Proofer can easily hold eight 1 quart/liter jars (8 inches/20cm high or less) of yogurt without the need to place a jar directly in the center.

My yogurt is lumpy. How do I make smooth yogurt?

Higher temperatures and longer culturing times can cause a lumpy texture and excessive whey separation (similar to the spoon on right on the photo). Follow our high-low directions carefully to achieve smooth yogurt.

yogurt on spoons

Smooth yogurt (left) and curdled yogurt (right).

Our “High-Low” culturing method produces smooth, thick yogurt that is less likely to leak whey, and is less time than most methods.

1. Preheat the Proofer to 120°F (49°C). Place the jars you will use for yogurt into the Proofer to preheat. Make sure to use the rack but not the water tray.

2. Heat your milk to 195°F (91°C) on the stove top and hold it at that temperature for 10 minutes. Allow the milk to cool to 115°F (46°C). Placing the pot in a pan of cold water will speed cooling.

3. Inoculate the heated milk with starter culture when the milk cools to 115°F. This temperature speeds the yogurt through the earlier stages of culturing and is more hospitable to the beneficial lactic acid-producing bacteria and less favorable to undesirable microbes.

4. To inoculate, put one cup of 115°F milk in a small bowl. Add the appropriate amount of starter yogurt (plain yogurt with live cultures) to the bowl. Use 1 tablespoon per 2 cups of milk. For example, for a half gallon of milk, use 4 tablespoons. Stir until smooth. Then add the liquified culture back into the pot of milk and stir gently to distribute.

5. Pour the inoculated milk into the pre-warmed jars, put the lids on the jars and place them back into the Proofer to culture at 120°F. Arrange the jars so that they are not directly over the center of the Proofer, to allow proper heat circulation and to ensure the most accurate culturing temperature.

6. Set a timer for one hour, and when the hour is up, turn down the Proofer to 86°F (30°C). It is important not to let the yogurt remain at 120° for more than an hour in order to avoid whey separation and lumpy texture.

7. Check the yogurt after two hours by gently tilting a jar to the side to see if the milk is in a solidified state. When the yogurt passes the tilt test, put it in the refrigerator and allow it to chill thoroughly.

See more instructions in our Custard-Style Yogurt recipe.

Does boiling before culturing ruin the yogurt?

No. The casein proteins and whey proteins do not coagulate when heated unless acid is also present, and the integrity of the fat in milk is actually strengthened by boiling.

Yogurt temp testsTo test this, we made yogurt from milk that had been simmered long enough to reduce the volume by 25%. The result is a thick, smooth creamy yogurt with the strongest “custard” taste of any of the yogurts we tested. We didn’t choose this method for our custard-style yogurt because the cooked milk/custard taste is so prominent that it starts to seem like something other than yogurt. But it was a favorite among some of our tasters, and it’s good to know that if you accidentally heat the milk hot enough to produce a few bubbles, nothing bad will happen to your yogurt.

How much yogurt can I make per batch?

make up to 2 gallons of yogurt at a time

The Folding Proofer can make up to 2 gallons (8 quarts) of yogurt at a time.

With the Brød and Taylor Folding Proofer, you can make up to two gallons of yogurt at a time.

Unlike other yogurt makers with more limited capacity, the Folding Proofer has the advantage of a large interior space and the ability to set customized culturing temperatures. Rather than running on an automatic cycle, the Folding Proofer allows you to make smooth yogurt in a short period of time, usually 4 hours.

Can I make lactose-free yogurt?

brighter_temp120

Customizable temperature control gives you the ability to make lactose-free yogurt at home

Unlike other yogurt makers, the Folding Proofer can be set to exact temperatures, and culturing can be customized so that you can make lactose-free yogurt from either lactose-free or regular milk.

To make lactose-free yogurt with regular milk, you simply need a longer culturing period to give beneficial bacteria enough time to consume all of the lactose in regular milk.

See our Lactose-Free Yogurt recipe.