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What is a Cutlery Canteen?

By Janis Adams
Updated May 16, 2024
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A cutlery canteen is a holder for silverware. It not only helps keep quality cutlery in good condition, but can also provide an attractive showplace for the cutlery to be displayed. Cutlery canteens come in a variety of looks and finishes and often can come as part of the purchase of a full set of cutlery. They can hold a simple set of knives, a group of steak and specialty knives, or even a full cutlery set.

Some canteens allow the separate pieces of silverware to come in contact with one another, while others have separate holders for each piece. Those holders that allow the silverware to touch should come with a lining to keep the cutlery in good condition while it is being stored. A canteen with separate holders is a wiser choice for higher quality cutlery.

Some holders made specifically for knives consist of wood blocks that house each knife separately. A slot is created to meet the specifications of each knife in a set. Most cutlery manufacturers will offer a cutlery canteen along with their selection of knives. Often, the canteen will contain a spot for a knife sharpener along with a place to house a pair of kitchen shears.

Another type of cutlery canteen is the velvet-lined storage box. This type is most often used for the storage of sterling silverware. The most popular finish for the cutlery storage box is mahogany. Storage boxes are not often made to house only certain types or brands of cutlery. They are, however, more specifically crafted for the number of pieces to be stored within them. This type of cutlery canteen is not often used as a display piece, but more so as an organizer, which is often stored away unless pieces are being retrieved from it for use.

Cutlery canteens are storage systems designed for the convenience and organization of the cook as well as for preserving the cutlery. They range in price dependent upon what materials they are crafted from and how much silverware they are intended to house. Often, the best choice of canteen is the one that was manufactured by the company that created the cutlery intended to be stored within it. These storage containers aid in helping cutlery last for years to come.

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Discussion Comments
By serenesurface — On Jun 09, 2014

Cutlery canteens in the old days used to be huge and had their own place in the home. Now it's usually just a kitchen drawer.

By discographer — On Jun 08, 2014

@Lostnfound-- I think you're right. The term cutlery canteen is more commonly used in the UK. Most Americans don't use it. In my household, we call it the silverware storage chest or storage box.

I think cutlery canteen is more specifically a term for the more luxurious silverware storage that are also very pleasing for the eye. The silverware storage box we use is a rather simple and convenient box. In the US, these boxes come in very different forms. Some are made from wood and some from plastic. There are even stainless steel ones.

We have a plastic one that has a nice fabric zip-up covering. It keeps the silverware separate but it's not fancy box. My sister has a different one which is basically a stainless steel container with three compartments that's made to sit on the dining room table. That way, people have access to them all the time while they're eating.

By bluedolphin — On Jun 08, 2014

My mom has a cutlery canteen for her silverware. It sort of looks like a large jewelry box. It has separate compartments for forks, knives and spoons. The box is made of wood and there is a fancy fabric inside which apparently protects silverware and keeps them shiny.

My mom only uses her silverware on special occasions and important family dinners. So they are sitting in the cutlery canteen most of the year, waiting to be used. But I must say that the cutlery canteen does a fine job because the silverware is in great shape and does not need polishing frequently.

By Lostnfound — On Jun 07, 2014

@Grivusangel -- I'm with you. Never heard this term. I heard this term on a British TV show on BBC America, so I wonder if maybe it's a term you'd hear more often in the United Kingdom. Kind of like a "lorry" there is what we call a "truck" here in the U.S.

By Grivusangel — On Jun 06, 2014

I always thought the wooden block that held chef's knives was a knife block, and the chest that held good silverware was a silver chest. I don't think I've ever heard the term "cutlery canteen." I wonder if this might be more of a regional term.

I've heard of a "knife drawer" and "silverware caddy," or silverware holder," but "cutlery canteen" is a new one.

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