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By Cook's Illustrated Published April 2012

Egg Separators

Published April 2012

How we tested

First, we’ll level with you: The idea of a gadget for separating eggs was not a hit with most of the cooks in the test kitchen. (Using half of the broken shell, or even your fingers, works just fine.) But separating many eggs for a recipe like Lemon Snow with Custard Sauce is time-consuming and messy, so we thought that a device that let white and yolk make a quick, clean break just might find a spot in our pantry.

Egg separators run the gamut from simple slotted spoons to more complex contraptions that also help you measure and store whites. We bought six, priced from $1.99 to a whopping $19.98, and got cracking. Shockingly, most separators simply failed to work, with slats that were not large enough to allow thick egg whites to drop efficiently. We grew impatient waiting for the viscous blob of egg white to surrender to gravity. One model, a five-part system for separating and storing whites and yolks, charmed us with its hinged strainer cup that let us flip the yolk into a cute yellow canister after separating. But as the white remained suspended from the yolk catcher, we had to resort to jiggling and jostling the hinge. Cleaning and keeping track of all five parts held no allure, either.

The best performer comprised two simple parts: a wide, slotted cup for the yolk (with a crisp raised edge all around for easy cracking—even for lefties) and a clear plastic base marked with measurements, which held up to 10 whites. It didn’t allow us to separate eggs any faster than we can manage with our bare hands. (When we timed a tester, her hands separated 10 eggs well over a minute faster than the tool did.) But it captured each egg without spilling, and while it sometimes took a few shakes to get the white to release, we never had to touch the eggs—leaving our hands clean and free for other tasks. We’re still not entirely sold on the need for egg separators, but our winner cleans up easily, and won’t break the bank.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*