Having meals and drinks alone or with others in the comfort of your home is something everyone enjoys, and for this an orderly and well-equipped kitchen is a necessity. Mandolines, are some of the more useful cutting appliances.
Mandolines, also known as produce or meat slicers, are useful for difficult slicing tasks. These tools slice food in various ways more readily than knives, such as cutting evenly sliced thin strips of meat. Some models can make crinkle and waffle cuts of potato and vegetable dishes, others are good for shredding or dice jobs. And the Ways To Cook even make it easier.
Most feature either straight or diagonal cutting edges made from stainless steel or ceramic materials. Much like planed graters, mandolins inset a sharp blade in the base of a sliding platform, where ingredients are pushed to slide along it to result in consistently sliced portions. Handheld types are flatter and thinner for easy storage, while others are mounted on stands to keep steady at proper angles. Slice thicknesses are adjustable, and blades are swappable for different jobs.
The edges of the cutters must be very sharp to make quick work of food items, but as a result these pose a real hazard to your hands when operated, adjusted, or cleaned. All safe models include a hand guard for use when pressing the food against the blade, which must not be removed to avoid the risk of hand injuries. It is vital to be alert and methodical when using a mandolin, and to choose one with a good hand guard design and blades which are easy to swap.
Basic slicers feature hand guards of varying comfort, stability, and durability on a relatively thin platform. Thickness settings are standard but not all are easily adjusted on every model. Many models include blades which can be swapped for various jobs.
Professional slicers are more flexible tools preferred by professionals, but their hand guards designs tend to less stable and secured as a result. To be efficient, many chefs decline their use, but in home kitchens this behavior increases the risk of injuries and is not warranted.
Meat slicers are specifically designed to slice jerky or meats particularly from roast cuts, or to cut large cubes out of cheeses, items which slicers designed for fruits or vegetables cannot do well.
Spiraled slicers are intended to produce cuts which mimic noodles, or produce fancy strings or ribbons of various thicknesses out of green items, for salads and other side dishes as well as garnishes.
- Durable construction. The best models deliver years of steady and consistent slicing without flexing. Models meant for cutting meats should be sturdy, with suction pads to keep them steady on the counter.
- Comfortable hand guard. A hand guard helps users grips the food and press it against the cutting elements, keeping fingers away from the blades. The best have mechanisms which track smoothly along their surface without ratchety or jerky operation. Those with wide brims are considered to be the safest and sturdiest design, and the guards on meat slicers should cover the blade. Spiraling slicers are inherently safer as their cutters operate inside their housings, but do need care in their cleaning.
- Sharp blades. Blades must be ready to cleanly and precisely slice a wide variety of foods without much effort. Models with cutting elements diagonal to their slide action are considered better performers.
- Vertical adjustments. Models with more adjustable height and thickness settings allow users to make deli-style slices of produce or meat. Controls which feature incremental steps may be easier to set up but are less flexible at making fine adjustments on the fly. Thickness settings in meat slicers should be easy to adjust but lock in solidly.
- Multiple easy-swap blades. The better produce and spiraling models come with several blades which are easily and safely swapped for different tasks, while good meat slicers offer options for blades with and without serrated edges.
- Easy to clean. A housing which goes into the dishwasher and which is designed with fewer crevices which trap food residues is easier to clean and maintain.
Some users prefer to finish slicing items with knives or reserve the last bit for service in soups or stews.
A pair of cutting gloves are a great for lessening the risk of bad hand injuries when operating slicers.