How To Store a Chef Knife

Knowing how to store a chef’s knife is important. A high-quality chef knife is a must for anyone who is passionate about food.

As a versatile tool, it is the number one accessory used in professional kitchens around the world.

But a chef’s knife is not only important for those in a restaurant setting, and knowing how to store one saves the cook a lot of grief.

Read on to learn about the importance of owning a chef knife, how to properly store it, and how that impacts its usefulness and longevity.

Close-up of a chef using a knife to chop fresh produce, colourful vegetables and bell peppers.

What Is a Chef Knife?

A chef knife is the most diverse tool in a cook’s toolbox. Multipurpose and versatile, you can cut almost anything with this blade. This included vegetables, herbs, bread, and even both delicate and dense types of meat. That includes tender, medium-rare steaks to thick, raw chicken breasts.

A good chef knife has three features:

  • Good heft for balanced cutting
  • A sharp edge that slices easily through anything
  • Sturdy materials, from the blade itself to the handle

When looking at chef knives to purchase, you should keep those three factors in mind. A high-quality knife will feel good in the hand, the handle designed to rest easily and comfortably in the palm.

Whether stainless steel or ceramic, the blade will be free of any scratches or chips that indicate poor materials. The edge should be very sharp, and any dulling prior to use is a red flag.

The unique design of a chef knife is what gives it its reputation. The curve of the blade allows you to cut with a rocking motion that is perfect for dicing. However, it is straight enough to slice straight through, with a thin blade for more delicate work.

Your perfect chef knife will be great for finely chopped rosemary or gorgeously sliced roast beef. Anyone who spends time in the kitchen should have one for daily cooking.

Should I Use a Knife Block to Store My Chef Knife?

One big mistake people make when storing their chef knives is using a knife block. Marketed as a standard method to stove all kitchen knives, these – usually wooden – holders look convenient.

But they take up more space on your counter, dull the blades, and can lead to food poisoning.

Knife blocks are made of two materials: wood or plastic. Plastic models are easier to sanitize and hold fewer bacteria. Unfortunately, the gaps that hold the blade can still contain those nasty food parasites and mold due to moisture building up in the space.

Wooden blocks are even more prone to these issues. In addition, the wood itself can contain rot and mold in the center of the block, where water seeps into the material and becomes lodged inside. The softness of the wood is prime for real estate for nasty critters that can get in your food.

There have been some reports of maggots in wooden knife blocks, or even wooden knife handles themselves! These have never been proven, but knowing the risks involved it isn’t hard to see how that could happen.

While it is possible to clean your knife block of mold and bacteria, it is far simpler to find alternative methods that will keep you – and the people you cook for – safe.

Best Method For Storing a Chef Knife

The best way to store a chef’s knife is using a magnetic strip. These strips are cheap and can be found at any kitchen supply store and online retailers like Amazon. You install them on any open patch of wall, making them great space savers, as well.

Many benefits make this the best alternative to storage blocks. For one, they don’t require any counter space to hold your knives.

For another, since they hang in the open air, no bacteria will hide in little crevices, and there is nowhere for mold to grow.

They are nice and easy to sanitize, as well; just use a gentle, antibacterial cleaner and a rag, then wipe down with water and let it dry.

Your knives will stay sharper, longer, as well. Magnetic strips catch the blade in the center (as long as you are using a metal knife). There is no rubbing against the blade, which protects the edge from dulling.

For those who use ceramic knives, it is best to keep your chef knife in a drawer. Make sure to properly dry it before you put it away, and you will protect it from bacteria, dulling, and particles that can wear down your knives.

Just be careful not to overstuff the drawer as doing so leads to your knives bashing against other kitchen tools. This can lead to chips and scratches over time.

How Can I Keep My Chef Knife In Top Condition?

Storage is a big part of keeping your chef knife in good condition. Other factors are handwashing and drying your blades, wiping them off the moment you are done using them, and sharpening them regularly. This keeps the handles healthy and the edges nice and sharp.

Why do they have to be hand washed? And why does it have to be done right away? Food particles, particularly from acidic foods, can cause damage if left too long on a blade. Hand washing ensures that you are gently cleaning off all remaining organic material.

Dishwashers are also damaging to knives and even other cutlery and kitchen tools. The heat can warp the materials, and even strong knives may begin to break down after continued exposure. As for the cleaning itself, dishwashers don’t always remove everything.

Sharpening is a necessity, as it keeps your knife working properly. It should be sharpened every month to every other month, then professionally sharpened once a year.

Final Thoughts

Having a chef knife is crucial for anyone who enjoys their time in the kitchen. Even people who hate cooking will appreciate how easy one of these blades makes the task.

Having a good set of knives is life-changing and makes creating healthy and delicious meals a breeze for even the most ardent fast food defender.

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