How to choose ... a knife holder

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 August, 2006, 12:00am

Storing knives properly is important for your safety and to help maintain the blades' sharp edges.

What are they? A knife holder can range from portable 'rolls' (which professional chefs use to

store and transport their tools) to heavy blocks and magnetic strips that attach to a wall. There are also simple heavy plastic sheaths that slide over the blade.

What are the differences? Sheaths are the cheapest and often come with knives when you buy them.

They allow knives to be stored in drawers with other kitchen implements, the plastic protecting blades from being nicked and pitted. Portable knife rolls are also inexpensive but are hardly ideal for amateur cooks who aren't on the move. Knife blocks take up counter space but they're sturdy and convenient. Magnetic strips keep the knives at hand and free up precious counter space.

What to look for: if you're considering a block, you'll want one that can accommodate all your knives, long and short. Most have at least one slot that fits a 25-30cm chef's knife and there's usually space for a bread knife and other thinner and/or shorter blades. If you use a cleaver, look for a block with a suitably wide slot. If the block is made of wood, make sure it's heavy wood, such as maple. Wall-mounted magnetic strips will need to be strong enough to securely hold even the heaviest of your knives. Hang the magnetic strip over a counter so that if a knife is accidentally knocked off it, the blade won't fall to the floor (landing on your foot on its way down).

What else? It isn't easy to clean the slots of a block, so make sure your knives are clean before sheathing them.

Where to buy: PanHandler (tel: 2523 1672), Pantry Magic (tel: 2501 0988), the cookware shops on Shanghai Street (take exit C of the Yau Ma Tei MTR station) and the kitchenware sections of Wing On (tel: 2852 1888) and Sogo (tel: 2833 8338).