HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >

Discussion

Mandolin

My husband got me a mandolin for Christmas, and I can't find much use for it. I watched the video and read the instructions but it isn't working too well for me. For example, I wanted to make sweet potato fries but the sweet potato seems to be too hard/dense for the mandolin to cut smoothly. I'm also thinking that it would be just as speedy to dice and julienne vegetables by had as it would be to pull out the mandolin, set it up, and dice and slice with it.

Any thoughts on this? Is this a redundant or un-necessary cooking gadget? Does anyone have a mandolin and just love it? If so, I'd love to know what you use it for.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Assuming that you got a real mandolin, and not the converted little potato peeler that you see on the television ads, you have probably set the blade for too thick a cut. That is why the vegetables seem to hard and dense -- it is more than it really can handle with ease. A very thin cut will be much easier to execute.

    I had that problem when I first got my Matfer. Frankly, at the time, I too decided it was a lot easier to use a good sharp knife. However, if you need to get really, really thin pieces, nothing else can do it with consistency, and nothing else can do waffle cuts, which my family loves.

    If you don't do much very thin slicing, you may be better off with a new knife or cutting board, or even the attachment that goes on a Kitchen Aid mixer that does the same thing (sort of). It was a good thought, but it all depends on how much thin slicing you really do.

    1 Reply
    1. re: RGC1982

      I have a du Buyer Ultra. I don't do much thin slicing so I think I may return it. I've got until Sunday to decide - that's the last day I can return it.

    2. My husband bought me a very expensive one a few years back. I can find lots of uses for it but I am having the same trouble as you. I really would like to try making waffle fries for example. It seems like everything gets stuck. I have been blaming my technique so I will love to see the responses you get.

      1. I find that sweet potatoes in particular are VERY fibrous, especially when slicing length-wise i.e., the direct you slice for fries! So yeah, they are extremely hard to cut. That being said I use my mandolin constantly -- need a julienned onion? cut off one end, slice the onion in half about 90% through and cut away, viola! julienned onion in about 10 seconds.

        Another issue you might be having (and Snowwish) is the speed. I used to think people use the mandolin super hard and fast to look fancy -- it actually helps a lot to get some momentum going when using it. Another addition you might want to consider is a cut-resistant glove, the kind with mesh in it (either wire or kevlar), make using a mandolin a little more user friendly.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mateo21

          I think I also have a du Buyer. I will have to check at home. I will definetly pick up one of the cut resistant gloves. The gaurd that came with mine is difficult to use. I think the idea of going fast is true but I am always afraid I will cut myself. My DH did try it once (fast) and had no problems. So I will try the glove and setting it to a thinner slice as suggested by RCG1982. I would love to use it to make potatoe chips and gratins.

        2. It's very handy to have one if you need to prep a *lot* of something in exactly the same way, for example if you're making a batch of caramelized onions and you want to slice a big bag of onions all at once. Or if you're making a slaw of some kind and need precise cuts of veggies.

          However, as you've learned, it doesn't do so well with harder veggies like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, etc. I still use a knife for those.

          1. I love mine! We do a lot of pickles (cucumber and squash) and this is 50% of my usage. I love it for potatoes au gratin, but not so much for fries. I also use it for onions as mentioned below. 2 wks ago I had 35 for a bd cleb and made veggie sandwiches for the non-meat eaters. Did celery, peppers, tomatoes (firm), zuchinni, onion, cucumbers in a snap. Along with my mini chopper, immersion blender, and big Kitchen Aid, it is a staple in my kitchen.

            1. Thanks, everyone, for the good input. I may experiment with it a bit more but since I don't really slice large quantities of things often it may not be the piece of equipment for me. The waffle cuts are intriguing though. Maybe I'll watch that video one more time. Williams Sonoma also offered to give me a lesson, which I thought was nice.

              1. I have a very good quality Bron mandoline, and the one thing it does not do well is cut fries, except for waffle style fries, which are really thick chips. For fries I use one of these:

                http://www.amazon.com/French-Fry-Cutt...

                Mandolines are great for slicing potatoes for chips or gratins and shredding cabbage and such, but if you don't do a lot of that you might as well send it back.

                1. Hi JenBoes,

                  I am one of the editors of KitchenAudition and we recently tested approximately fifteen different mandolines. We initially selected julienning sweet potatoes as one of our challenges for the very reason that it is so difficult. However, we abandoned the test once we realized how poorly most mandolines handled it, and reasoned that it wasn't a task likely to be performed by the 'typical user' (we were apparently wrong).

                  Of the models we have tested to date the one that handled sweet potatoes the best was the Borner V-Slicer Plus (not the more expensive Pro model, which did score as well). Processing regular potatoes is effortless. When working with sweet potatoes, follow mateo21's advice and use a quick and unflinching stroke (think Samurai warrior). Here is a photo showing the fries created from a single sweet potato.

                  Happy Slicing

                  www.kitchenaudition.com

                   
                  1 Reply
                  1. re: BryceC

                    It's worth noting that the ones tested aren't really top tier mandolines. While most Japanese home cooks rely on something like the Borner, and it does work beautifully for certain kinds of tubers, the Bron mandoline and its ilk are what you need if you are going to make pommes anna, for example...

                  2. You've gotten a lot of good replies...

                    I don't have a very pricey stainless mandolin... I went with the Japanese Benriner and I couldn't be happier. I pull it out all the time.

                    That being said, I haven't done sweet potatoes. Perhaps you should make a nice veggie soup this weekend and test drive yours with a bunch of different vegetables? You'll get a good idea of it's strengths and weaknesses.

                    1. I don't have a "real" mandolin that is Made in France...but I do have a Japanese made one. The one I have is the light green plastic model made by Benriner. This mandolin is just super sharp, made just like a samurai sword. The thickness can be adjusted and there are also two julienning blades for thicker or thinner slices. I would agree that if you are having trouble you might be trying to make the slices too thick.

                      I would also suggest one of those metal mesh gauntlets to protect your hand, just in case. I often find the little hand guard provided are cumbersome to use and not very effective in general. But at least with the metal glove you can use the mandolin without out fear of cutting yourself. I would also suggest using leverage on your side, have the mandolin much lower then your arm. Either a lower stable table or raising yourself higher, to make sure you can really push down on said veggie victim. Also putting some non-slip surface under the mandolin to prevent slippage as well. A nice smooth pushing motion is what I do and the sweet potatoes just come out the other side all nicely cut up. Hope this helps you out.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Jvsgabriel

                        I, too, have the inexpensive Benriner; I'd read somewhere that these do a better job and are simple and accessible. I would suggest returning the first and buying the Benriner instead. I feel using the special glove is a MUST.

                        I've made a sweet potato casserole using the Benriner...I just peel the potatoes first and then away I go, only takes a few minutes, much faster than using a knife.

                        1. re: walker

                          The blade on the Benriner is better than the blade on the French Bron mandoline. For doing thicker match sticks the Bron is better and you can't do waffle cuts on the Benriner but for slicing and for fine julienne the Benriner is excellent

                      2. I just got a mandolin myself. It is a revelation! The first time I used it, I wasn't sure if it was working, but the veggies were gliding so smoothly. It sliced them without much effort. I really think its a must have.

                        1. I have a nice one. It is razor sharp. I use it twice a year. Once in the summer during harvesting and canning/freezing- then again in the winter, for scalloped dishes. I think of it as one of those gadgets that are worth keeping in the gadget closet (for those times) but if I didn't garden, I wouldn't use it enough to keep it..