How should I store my knives?

As a knife supplier, we get asked this question surprisingly often, so we thought that it would be useful to give a summary. Obviously, the overarching concern must be safety, particularly where there are children regularly in the kitchen. But there are other factors, too, like convenience, cleanliness, knife care and price.

Fundamentally, there are five ways to store your knives: magnetic rack, knife block, loose in the drawer, built-in drawer ‘dock’ and knife roll. Let’s disregard the last of these, as they tend only to apply to professional chefs who are moving between one work area and another. The magnetic strip (which can be covered in a thin veneer of wood to make it fit in to a more traditional kitchen), is probably best for convenience and knife care, but worst for child safety. In other words, they work excellently, but will be a constant presence on your kitchen wall, just out of the grasp (you hope) of busy little hands and enquiring minds. Knife blocks are probably the best-looking solution, with shapes available from the ultra traditional to the cool and modern, but they score badly on safety (even closer to those prying hands) and also possibly on hygiene. Those deep and long slots are almost impossible to keep clean once they get a bit of dirt in them. One trick you can do easily, though, to stop the tiny incremental blunting of knives as you replace them in the block and they cut into the wood, is to store them edge-side up.

The built-in, or purpose made, drawer docks can be excellent, as they will keep the knives hidden away, store them horizontally (no blunting) and be easy to clean. They are also quite expensive (unless you make them yourself) and they don’t allow you to admire your beautiful knives except when they are in use. That just leaves the drawer itself, a solution that I would warn against from the start. Rubbing up against other metal items is really bad for the blade, just as cutting yourself on a semi-hidden blade whilst fishing for a potato peeler is really bad for you! Especially when you are at that critical stage in preparing a wonderful meal.

There’s not much more to say, really. With all its imperfections, we still have the old beechwood knifeblock we bought 20 years ago. It looks good, and because beechwood has a natural antiseptic quality, it seems to pass the hygiene test. Besides, our ‘children’ have flown the nest and now have knives of their own.

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