Safe Fingers By Using A Mandoline Slicer

Safe Fingers By Using A Mandoline Slicer

For some people, the only acceptable way to cut produce is with a knife. If you do not have good knife skills, you are not going to be able to get those perfectly sliced and julienned food; instead, it will all be of varying sizes, thicknesses, and it is just going to be a mess.

What if there was a way that you could get even slices quickly and easily? What if there was some magic tool that would make it easy to make evenly sliced potato chips, julienned carrots, or waffle cut French fries? You would be all over it, right?

There is something that can do all that and more! A mandoline slicer is the best magic weapon against uneven cuts.

What Is A Mandoline Slicer?

For those who are not interested in having a slew of kitchen gadgets, a mandoline may not be on your radar. You may have watched many cooking shows that tell you to julienne some kind of vegetable or cut apples into thin slices. If you try to do this with a knife, chances are you are not going to be able to get uniform cuts. A mandoline slicer is going to be able to give you those cuts quickly and easily.

Mandoline Vs Food Processor Vs Spiralizer

There are a few different tools that people can use when they want to cut food. The most common tools people will have to choose between are the mandoline, a food processor, or a tool called a spiralizer.

A mandoline is going to make precision slicing effortless. You can get a variety of cuts from a mandoline but changing out the blades. When you are done using the mandoline, you can usually store it in a cabinet without it taking up too much space.

Compared

A food processor is capable of performing a variety of functions, such as slicing, chopping, dicing, and even pureeing. The problem with these tools is that they can take up a lot of space, and they can be complicated to set up and use.

A spiralizer can only really perform one function and that is to make spiral “noodles” or ribbons out of vegetables. These veggie noodles can take the place of regular noodles in pasta dishes or stir fry dishes, but they can also be used to create garnishes, too.

Why Should You Use A Mandoline?

You may be asking yourself why would you even want to consider purchasing a mandoline slicer – you are confident with your knife skills and you don’t need another gizmo cluttering up the kitchen. Well, there are quite a few reasons why you would want have a mandoline at the ready!

  • Quick and Easy: When you have to cut produce for a dish, how long does it take you to complete the task with a knife? A few minutes, right? It could take longer if your knife skills are not on Chef Ramsay’s level. With a mandoline, you can slice any kind of produce within a minute or less. Not only can you cut an entire cucumber, carrot, potato, or zucchini within a very short amount of time, but those slices are going to be the same thickness. Can you do that with a knife? Probably not.
  • Affordable: You can find a mandoline at any price point, but the best mandoline slicers will generally be between $30 to $90. While you may balk at the steep price of some of the more expensive mandolines, they are well worth it because of all the uses you will get out of it.
  • Versatile: This gadget is not just for slicing potatoes. You can use this tool for a wide variety of things. You can create homemade French fries, sweet potato fries, chips, “zoodles”, julienne vegetables for salads, and even shred lettuce or cabbage.

What Can I Use a Mandoline For?

We mentioned that a mandoline is versatile, but we wanted to give you more examples of how you can use one of these gadgets and the types of dishes you can make.

Mandoline Slicer Vegetables Being Cut
  • Thin Sliced Onions: What hamburger or sandwich would be complete without thinly sliced red onion?
  • Scalloped / Au Graten Potatoes: Instead of opting for those dried potato slices when you are making these dishes, go for the real deal. A mandoline will let you create uniform slices that will cook evenly so no one chomps down on a slightly under-cooked potato ever again.
  • Fruit and Vegetable Slices: Thin slices of tomatoes or cucumber can finish off a sandwich, but you can also slice fruit with a mandoline. Thin sliced fruit can be used in pies, tarts, or candying.
  •  Shaved Vegetables: The julienne blade of a mandoline is great for shaving a variety of vegetables. Try shaved (raw) asparagus and add it to a salad. You can also shave garlic and ginger, too.
  • Slicing Cheese: Mandolines are not just for fruits and vegetables! You can use this tool to slice firm cheeses.
  • Shredding Leafy Vegetables: If you want to make quick work of shredding lettuce for tacos or cabbage for coleslaw or homemade sauerkraut, a mandoline can be your saving grace!
  • Grating Cheese, Citrus, and Vegetables: There are some mandolines that have a grating blade to which you can use to grate cheeses, vegetables for things like carrot cake, homemade tater tots, tzatziki sauce, or zucchini bread. You can even grate chocolate or zest citrus fruit for desserts!
  • Zucchini Noodles: Zucchini noodles are all the rage and you can make these very easily with a mandoline.
  • Decorative Cuts: Those paper thin slices with a mandoline can be turned into artful flowers and rosettes. With a little bit of creativity, you can turn anything into a decorative garnish for your dishes.

Parts Of A Mandoline

A mandoline is a pretty straightforward appliance. It consists of four parts:

  • Body: The body of the mandoline can be made from either a BPA-free ABS plastic or stainless steel. The plastic option will usually be more affordable than the stainless steel, but the stainless steel will prove to be more durable for the long run.
  • The “ramp” of the body (the part that leads to the blade) will usually have grooves so that the food does not stick while it’s being moved toward the blade. Some models will have a handle for you to hold on to, while others will have legs or notches that will allow the mandoline to hook onto your bowl. If it does not have notches, the base should have rubber feet so that the mandoline does not slip and slide while it is being used.
  • Thickness Adjustor: A good mandoline should have a knob, lever, or a dial that will change the height of the ramp or the blade so that you can control the thickness of the cuts you make. Some mandolines will have designated settings, while others will let you fine tune the dial to your own preferences.
  • Blades: Usually, mandolines will come with one or two additional blades other than just a straight blade. These blades will let you create fancier cuts. The toothed blades will create julienne cuts of varying sizes, some will come with a rippled or a zig-zag blade so that you can make crinkle cuts. You can even find mandoline blades that will create waffle-cuts!

There Are Three Different Blade Types:

Types of Blades on a Mandoline Slicer
  • French (Straight): A French style mandoline is going to have a straight-across blade. These mandolines are the type that culinary students will learn on. This type of mandoline will have interchangeable blades that will create a variety of cuts and you can adjust the thickness of these cuts. With this type of mandoline, the blades are going to be thicker than the others, which means they will be more likely to become dull with regular use. Luckily, the blades can be removed to be sharpened.
  • Japanese (Diagonal): These mandolines were made popular by the Benriner company and it is preferred among professional chefs. These tools are generally lightweight and less expensive because they have a plastic body. The diagonal blades on these are going to be incredibly sharp, and because they are so sharp, they are going to give you more control and the end result will be a clean cut.
  • V-Slicer: The V-slicers tend to be some of the more popular mandolines right now because you are not relying on a single blade to do the cutting. You essentially have two (diagonal) blades cutting into your food. This type of mandoline is excellent if you have to cut round fruits or vegetables.
  • Guard: The guard is an essential accessory that you do not want to lose! This accessory is going to keep your fingers safe while using the mandoline and prevent your fingers from being cut. To use the guard, you will push the food into the metal teeth inside the guard and then you’ll hold the top of the guard as you slide it along the mandoline.
  • Gloves: If your mandoline does not come with a guard, you will want to get a pair of cut-resistant gloves. These gloves will go a long way to keeping your fingers safe from cuts while using or cleaning your mandoline. Some people even prefer to use the gloves over the guard because you will have more control over the food you are slicing and it will also eliminate waste. After all, the food in the guard can only be cut so much, since some of it is impaled by the guard itself.

The nice thing about having a pair of cut resistant gloves is that you do not have to just use them with the mandoline. You can use them when working with knives too. The material that these gloves are made from is called Spectra-fiber and it is the same material used in bullet proof vests, so you know it will keep your fingers safe!

How To Maintain Your Mandoline Slicer

As you become more comfortable with your new mandoline, you will find countless opportunities to whip it out and use it! Of course, it is important that you keep your mandoline in good working order so that you can use it again and again.

In this section, we are going to walk you through how to properly care for this wonderful little gizmo. We will cover how to properly clean your mandoline, but also how to sharpen the blades.

How To Clean A Mandoline Slicer

It is important that after each use, you thoroughly clean your mandoline. Proper cleaning will ensure that your mandoline slicer is not a harbinger of food-borne illnesses or a contaminant.

Plus, when it is clean, it will work properly because there are no food debris or dried vegetable or fruit juices on the ramp or stuck in the blade.

The best way to clean your mandoline is to carefully clean the unit by using a rag that has been dampened by warm soapy water. You will want to wipe down the ramp, the guard, and the blade. When you do this on a regular basis, there will not be any need to do a more in-depth cleaning.

It is important that you use great care when cleaning around the blade or the blade attachments. These blades are extremely sharp and you do not want to get cut.

Washing Mandoline

We recommend wipe in the opposite direction of the sharp edge: avoid wiping downward on the blade because you could easily get cut. After you have cleaned the mandoline, rinse it with warm water and let it air dry.

While there are some mandolines that say they are dishwasher safe, we still recommend cleaning them by hand when you can.

By putting them into the dishwasher, you are cutting the life of the mandoline short because the water is much hotter than what comes out of the sink. If your mandoline is made of plastic, that plastic could begin to break or crack.

It is important to note that you should always allow the mandolin and the blades to fully dry before putting it away, otherwise any metal parts or the blades could begin to corrode. You could go one step further and rub a very thin layer of oil over the edges of the blade before using the mandoline or after cleaning.

Some people recommend that you thoroughly clean a brand new mandoline so that you are completely certain that it is sanitary and free from any coatings a manufacturer may put on the blades or the ramp.

How To Sharpen Mandoline Blades

There will come a time when the blades of your mandoline begin to dull. You probably are not going to want to purchase another mandoline, so you will want to have the blades sharpened.

Shaprening Mandoline Knife

You could send the blade out to a professional to have it sharpened, but that can be costly depending on how frequently this will need to be done.

Instead of sending the blades out to a professional, you can sharpen the blades yourself by using a sharpening stone or a whetstone and follow these steps:

  • Put on your cut-resistant gloves whenever handling the blades of your mandoline.
  • Use the appropriate size screw driver to remove the blade you are trying to sharpen. Some mandolines will require that you disassemble the entire unit in order to get to the blade. You will want to read the instruction manual for your particular model so that you can do this correctly and, more importantly, safely.
  • Note: You will not be able to sharpen serrated or julienne blades with a whetstone and they will need to be sent out.
  • Read the owner’s manual that comes with the sharpening stone. Depending on the stone, you may have to lubricate the stone with either an oil or water.
  • Position the blade horizontally on a table in front of you. Hold the stone steady with your dominate hand and hold the blade with the other. Keep the sharp edge of the blade pointed away from you.
  • Check with the owner’s manual for the stone to see the correct angle to sharpen a blade. Typically, this angle will be 20 degrees for sharpening a mandoline blade. If you hold the blade at too much of an angle, you run the risk dulling the blade even further, but too low of an angle will remove the bevel.
  • With the blade at the correct angle, firmly push the stone across the blade. It should make a sharp slicing sound when you do this. You will want to stroke the blade quickly back and forth with the stone.
  • Continue running the blade up and down the stone for about five minutes, alternating side of the blade. You can test the sharpness of the blade by cutting a piece of fruit or a vegetable. Once the blade is sharp enough, you will want to clean the blade with cold water to remove any dust or metal shavings.
  • Reassemble the mandoline. Before putting the mandoline away, wiggle the device a little bit to ensure everything is secured tightly.

Safety Tips for Using Your Mandoline Slicer

Just like a set of knives, you will want to exercise caution when using your mandoline. Here are simple safety tips that will keep all of your digits cut-free when you are using your mandoline:

  • Always use the food guard or cut-resistant gloves. It’s always better to wear it and not get cut, than to get cut and wish you had worn the glove.
  • Never submerge the mandoline in a soapy sink. When you go to fish the mandoline out, you could cut yourself on the extremely sharp blades.
  • Always keep extra blades in a safe place. Usually mandolines will come with a storage container or a container specifically for the extra blades. You do not want to go in a draw looking for something and forget there is a loose blade and cut yourself.
  • If it doesn’t glide smoothly, cut the food down. Although mandolines are great tools, they are not going to be able to handle everything you put in front of it. If there is any resistance while using the mandoline, take the food off and cut it down. You never want to force the mandoline because that is exactly when accidents can happen.

Conclusion

A mandoline slicer is a fantastic hand-held appliance that every chef should have in the kitchen. These tools can make even the laziest chefs or unskilled cooks look like they know how to use a knife! How?

The mandoline is capable of giving you even slices, but it can do so much more. With the right blade, you can julienne your ingredients, you can shred cabbage and lettuce, you can create zoodles, and more. There are even blades that will let you make waffle fries or grate cheeses!

There are a few different types of mandoline slicers currently available on the market. You have straight edge mandolines that are great for beginners (this is what culinary students typically learn on), there are diagonal mandolines that are preferred by professional chefs, and then there are V-shaped mandolines that are growing in popularity among the home chef.

Choosing which mandoline is going to be the right one for your needs can be a little tricky because there are so many options.

We have created a buying guide that will help you choose the best mandoline slicer. In the buying guide, we provide you with five options that we think you may want to look at. We also provide you with some important things you will want to take into consideration when buying a mandoline.

You can check out our buying guide by clicking here!

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