You must have seen a wooden block, at stores, at friends' houses, online, and even in commercials. Knife blocks (yes, they have a name!) are used to store knives, but is that all they do? Apparently, not!
People who spend time in the kitchen usually complain about their knives getting dull too quickly. These are usually the same people who store their kitchen knives in the drawers. Knife blocks are an excellent countertop storage item that not only organizes your knives and saves drawer space but also keeps your knives shiny for longer.
While they are certainly a valuable addition to any kitchen, you must need to know everything about the item. Only after learning the basics of a decent knife block and identifying whether you need one or not can you purchase a knife block. Luckily for you, this is precisely what we will be discussing today! This post discusses everything you need to know about knife blocks to help you decide whether they are a yes-yes or a no-go for your kitchen counters. So, let's get started!
Knife Blocks – An Overview
Knife blocks are the most recognized items on a countertop, apart from a coffee machine, of course, that features several slots for various culinary knives. These blocks, generally made of synthetic materials or wood, are typically used to store ceramic blades, but they can also be used to hold steel knives.
When browsing the net for a knife block to preserve your knives' shine, you will find yourself comparing different types. Here are the three main types of knife sets available in the market:
- Universal Knife Block
Universal knife blocks feature nylon interlocking rods, usually made of polypropylene. These nylon rods are generally removable, so you can clean the block regularly to keep it odor-free.
These rubber-coated rods are ideal for storing knives with blades no longer than 20cm in length. Although you can keep longer knives in such knife blocks, the blades will be visible, ruining the overall aesthetics.
- Classic Wooden Blocks
They are frequently made of wood or a wood-derived material. Classic knife blocks, unlike universal blocks, have predefined spaces for certain knife kinds.
These blocks are ideal for use on counters, and they go nicely with contemporary kitchens. Knowing the exact size of the slots on these blocks is critical to figuring out which of your kitchen knives will fit within. The primary benefit of having this knife block is that it clearly distinguishes knife sizes, ensuring that you always pull out the correct knife when cutting different items.
- Magnetic Knife Blocks
While they look more like a board than a block, magnetic knife blocks are constructed of wood, or other synthetic materials, which look good in modern kitchens. Unlike standard knife blocks, these blocks do not have slots for storing knives; instead, they feature a magnetic surface that can be used to place the blades.
To remove the blade from the blocks, simply twist it and pull it out. Furthermore, because the magnetic knife blocks have no locked regions, they are effortless to clean.
Knife Block Basics
Before further discussions, let's quickly go through the functionality of knife blocks. They provide three basic tasks as knife storage devices:
- They keep your knives in place.
- They help you save drawer space.
- They decrease the chance of injury by keeping the knives in a secure location.
- Knife blocks protect and extend the life of your blades by acting as a one-stop sheath for all your favorite knives.
That is all there is to it. They won't transform a regular home cook into Gordon Ramsay overnight; instead, they'll help keep things in order and prevent your family members from potential injuries. Moreover, people who like cooking will agree that keeping everything organized makes life in the kitchen significantly easier.
What Do You Need in a Knife Block Set?
Purchasing a separate knife block is quite a hassle – you need to ensure all your knives fit in the slots, and, not to forget, they cost extra, too! Moreover, you aren't always able to purchase the same knife block brand as your knives.
So, the most rational approach is to buy a knife block set as you will get new knives along with it! Moreover, buying a knife block set will allow you to preserve the brand-specific design while expanding your knife range by combining accessories from the same manufacturer.
Ideally, your knife block set should contain three essentials: chef's knife, paring knife and serrated knife.
- Chef's Knife
The most basic tool you could have in your kitchen is a decent chef's knife. If we could only have one knife, this is the one we would choose! You can use a chef's knife for chopping, slicing, mincing, and everything else.
A chef's knife has a long blade that curves upwards at the end and is usually 6-12 inches long. One of the most prominent features is the curve: It provides for effortless chopping, slicing, dicing, or mincing by allowing the blade to glide back and forth on a cutting board.
- Paring Knife
While you can use a chef's knife as an alternative to every other knife, you can't use it for peeling! A paring knife is basically a smaller version of a chef's knife: a practical all-rounder that belongs in every kitchen. However, it is smaller and doesn't rock as well on a cutting board as a chef's knife. Thus, you can't use it for dicing or mincing.
They are available in various sizes but are typically a few to several inches long, with a smaller handle and thinner blade than a chef's knife.
- Serrated Knife
A serrated knife, often known as a bread knife, is ideal for cutting food with a rough outer layer and a soft inside layer. This is due to the knife's saw-like action, ripping through the outside while sliding effortlessly through the interior.
Apart from perfect slicing loaves of bread, serrated knives are also ideal for slicing tomatoes, sausages and citrus fruits. Serrated knives are different from chef's knives because they aren't as sharp. So, you can cut the crust without harming or squishing your loaf of bread.
While a knife block set with these three knives is enough to execute your everyday kitchen tasks while keeping the tools organized, buying a model with more blades is the better option if you have the budget! So, in this case, you would be looking for a few extra blades than the ones mentioned above, like:
- Utility Knife
A utility knife is exactly what it sounds like: an all-purpose knife that can be used for various tasks. It's a cross between a paring knife and a chef's knife, having a thinner blade than a chef's knife.
It can be your best bud in the kitchen if you need something sliced or diced quickly and all the other knives are busy.
- Santoku Knife
A santoku knife is the Japanese equivalent of a chef's knife used in the United States. It features a flat blade rather than a curved blade, and the tip of the blade tapers off towards the end, leaving a minor point. It's designed for mincing, dicing, and chopping.
It differs from a chef's knife in design and cutting technique; it has a flat blade, so you can't rock it on the cutting board!
Who Needs a Knife Block Set?
A decent knife block set is a must-have for anyone who enjoys cooking or wants to improve their cooking skills. Cooking becomes a pleasure rather than a job when you use high-quality, sharp knives enclosed in a stylish block. When your blades are of the same type and excellent quality, you know you can rely on them equally. You not only build a lifelong talent but also get more control over your nutrition when you are able and ready to cook more.
More Isn't Always Merrier!
However, you don't have to spend a substantial sum on an 18-piece knife block set. Many knife block sets include an absurdly large number of knives for the manufacturer to make more money off of you. Instead of getting six steak knives in your set, which you would already have in your cutlery set, you should have a five- to seven-piece kitchen block set with usable knives.
Find Your Knife Set With or Without a Knife Block!
You can buy a knife block and knives separately, but some concerns are involved. Because not all knife blocks and knives are created the same, a universal knife block may not be able to fit the blades you buy. It'd be annoying to learn that your knives don't fit into the block you have spent so much on purchasing.
On the contrary, companies manufacture knife block sets to enhance the productivity of their tools. So, when you purchase a knife block set, you can rest assured that your knives will last at least an eternity.
In short, if you can't find a kitchen knife set with the knives you desire and will use the most, consider purchasing knives individually. However, you will need to be thoughtful about the type of knives you choose – you don't want to buy an individual set of fifteen knives and use only four!