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Mandolines, dust collector or must have?

I've recently seen a mandolin in the store and was debating on getting one. At the same time it looked like it could easily take a finger off if your not careful. I was wondering if it was worth getting or whether it would sit in the cupboard collecting dust.

Do you own one? Do you find you use it frequently? Advantages to using it?

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  1. When I want very thin sliced of potato or such for a gratin or other dish that needs even slices, nothing beats a mandoline. Never nicked a finger, always careful and don't use the guard.

    6 Replies
    1. re: escondido123

      Amen to all that. I firmly recommend its CAREFUL use. I have had bloody potatoes and vegetables thinking I was better than the average user...no way! I use the guard religiously. If you are looking for better results than your knife skills will get you, then by all means, you don't have to spend alot on a mandoline to get fabulous results. I like the multiblade ones that store the extraa blade for various thickness or multiple cuts on a single pass.

      1. re: njmarshall55

        I have found that the danger of being cut depends on how adamant you are about cutting the whole item--in my case usually potatoes. So when I make a gratin of potatoes, I don't try to slice every last bit but rather save those ends in a container of salt water. Within a couple days I chop them up along with some onion and make a nice pan of home fries.

        1. re: escondido123

          Good idea. Just wondering, why the salt?

          1. re: Steve Green

            Well, if the potatoes are going to sit in water for awhile, and I know they'll need salt when I cook them, I figured I might as well get a head start. (And I couldn't find any reason not to.)

          2. re: escondido123

            I have a benriner v-slicer with a guard. I've had that thing for at least 10 years now, I use it all the time, it's still really sharp - and I can cut vegetables down to little nubs with no danger to my fingers whatsoever. I always use the guard. (I also bought a cut-resistant glove recently just as added protection.) I probably use it mostly for cutting potatoes, onions and tomatoes. I sometimes use it for shredding cabbage for slaw, but for some reason I just usually prefer to do that with a knife. I have no problem getting nice thin slices, and I just find it relaxing to do it. But cutting a whole bunch of onions is a chore I never enjoy, and cutting pounds of potatoes into really thin even rounds for gratins (which I make a lot) is just so much qucker and easier with the v-slicer that I just don't bother doing it any other way any more.

          3. re: njmarshall55

            I watch chefs slice things like aspearagus lengthwise and there is no way to use the guard for something like that. I have a glove but rarely use it. I've gotten good at curving my fingers upward when slicing something close to the blade and not going overly fast when getting near the blade

          1. I never use mine for regular cooking - only for fancy or large company dishes, and then it's indispensible, especially with arthritis.

            1. I have one that is used often, twice today for different dishes.

              The advantge is the speed and uniformity and control when slicing vegetables. I most often use mine for potatoes.

              1. <At the same time it looked like it could easily take a finger off if your not careful.>

                It is recommended to get a cut resistance glove(s) with one:

                http://www.amazon.com/Microplane-3400...

                http://www.amazon.com/BladeX5-Classic...

                <I was wondering if it was worth getting or whether it would sit in the cupboard collecting dust. >

                Depending how often you use it. You should able to project or imagine how often you would use one instead of a knife.

                <Do you own one? Do you find you use it frequently? Advantages to using it?>

                No. Because I don't have one I don't use it. I almost get one, but decided that I won't use it enough. The advantages of getting one are: (1) If you are going to use it to for very large volume of thin slices and/or (2) you need very consistent slice cut which a knife is difficult to reproduce.

                For normal to thick slices, a good knife will be faster than a mandoline.

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFBQ6...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I bought one when it was a special value at HSN one day but returned it before using it as the reviews were so bad. I thought I would need it for a gratin but then I realized I've never made a gratin in my life and if I did it wouldn't be a crime if the potato was cut to fit the feed tube. Put enough cheese over it and you will never know...LOL!

                  Then I thought well, I can make a julienne but I only made one once in my life when I had a processor with that blade to see what it looked liked.

                  I'm sure I will be forgiven if the tomato slices in a salad are half round. The medium sized shredding blade makes nice veggies for salads.

                  I love kitchen equipment, but I have to admit I don't need this. They also scare me. I don't want to count my fingers when I'm done and wind up with 9 1/2!

                2. I've bought several inexpensive ones, but the only one that has gotten much use is a Japanese Benriner, which is very good for julienned vegetables, especially the carrots and daikon for a Japanese (and Vietnamese) style salad.

                  As for protecting fingers, I mainly avoid trying to cutting the last bit. I've also found a good plastic gripper in a smaller Japanese slicer.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: paulj

                    <a Japanese Benriner>

                    Almost bought one for daikon, but last minute decided to go back to knives.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Chem I also do fine julienne by hand often but the Benriner does a very good job and makes long strands which is not easy by hand unless you can roll out sheets of daikon with a Usuba or Yanagiba and I love my fingers too much to try to get good at this.

                      1. re: scubadoo97

                        Agree for the very thin strips/strands, a mandoline is definitely a real alternative.

                        http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ghI2knp4txs...

                        However, I make the much shorter and thicker strands and more random strands for daikon (or radish) cake. As such, I didn't need to have a Berniner

                        http://rasamalaysia.com/uploaded_imag...

                        http://www.tastehongkong.com/wp/2010/...

                        But you are absolutely correct that, Japanese super fine julienne does require special tools -- until one can do the rotary cut, which I have yet to master.

                  2. Let me just say that I appreciate having one because it is a time saver. It's like my food processor, stand mixer, chinoise, multiple knives, and a vast collection of pots, and pans etc. I don't use each, and everyone of them on a daily basis but I don't regret having them. They are the tools of my trade and a pleasure to have, and use. If you love cooking then I'd say "Go for it"!

                    2 Replies
                      1. My mandoline gets used a few times per year. I guess I could just use a sharp knife to slice he potatoes for the Christmas dinner gratin but it would not look nearly as nice and it would take much longer.

                        1. I use my FP for the potato slices.....
                          Sheesh, I cut myself enough with my knives
                          (and my FP blades when I'm not careful !!!)

                          Can't begin to imagine what I would do to myself with a mandoline..... :-D

                          1. Have never used it without a bit of blood involved! If you have a food processor with a thin blade that is the way to go. For small amounts a knife will work just fine.

                            1. Like most kitchen tools beyond the very basic ones, it really depends on you and what you cook on a regular basis. Mandolines are very dispensable in the average home kitchen. On the other hand, they can do things that are extremely difficult/impossible for most people to do with a knife, like make perfectly even, paper-thin slices or juiliennes which is the reason I bought my Benriner. Then once I had it, I started using it any time I have a reasonably large amount of vegs to cut up and I want them even - for scalloped potatoes, onion soup, cole slaw, etc. But do make a note of the maximum thickness of the one you're eyeing too - the only drawback of the Benriners is that the maximum thickness is only about 1/4", which limits their useful for general purpose slicing.

                              I would also recommend using it with a cut-resistant glove. I don't think mandolines are inherently more dangerous than knives, but we all grow up learning to use knives and using them on a regular basis. Not so mandolines. I think the extra protection is worth it to protect against accidents due to unfamiliarity alone, but also, mandoline blades are sharper than most people keep their knives, so if you have an accident, it's likely to be a deep one.

                              Personally, I have only cut myself once on mine and that was completely my fault - I was using it while rushing around in the kitchen and trying to talk on the phone at the same time - needless to say, not a Good Idea.

                              1. In my kitchen, a "must have" as long as it is the right one.

                                I have been flogging this one on various threads for years :http://www.amazon.com/Kyocera-CSN-202...
                                I've had one since 2005 and it is still as sharp as on Day 1. It is incredibly sharp, has the little notches to secure it to a bowl while using, and fits easily in the dishwasher. Mine hangs on a hook next to my work space. Yes, I use it often, several times a week. Even for something as simple as a few slices of onion.

                                Though a lot of people recommend the Berrnier, I find it too narrow for many of my uses (potatoes, onions, etc.) but I do like it for julienne veg.

                                Even my Kyocera is too narrow at times, so I bought this one: http://www.cutleryandmore.com/kyocera...

                                >>>
                                At the same time it looked like it could easily take a finger off if your not careful.
                                <<<
                                So can a knife. I have found most of the food holders that come with mandolines are less than worthless, and a good cut-resistant glove is a must.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: al b. darned

                                  For what it's worth, Benriner also makes a wider-base model, too: http://www.amazon.com/Benriner-BN3-Wi...

                                  1. re: MikeG

                                    The one everybody recommends is the narrow one, which I asked Santa for, not realizing how narrow it was. Had I known, I would have asked for the wider one.

                                  2. re: al b. darned

                                    I have 2 kyocera, the slicer and the julienne. They do the job but I wish it was larger as it's work to get the really long pieces I prefer for sauerkraut. It's great for shorter veg though.

                                    1. re: al b. darned

                                      I am totally with you!! The Kyocera adjustable ceramic slicer rocks! I have found that I have no use for my full mandoline since I bought this little gadget. I use it all the time for things like cucumber salad, a zucchini carpaccio that we love, thinly slicing fennel for a salad or pasta, and a zillion other things. I use it almost every day, and it's retained it's sharpness very well. After cutting myself once on it, I use the Microplane gloves which seem reasonably protective. Look at this little gadget...if it's not enough for you consider a simple Benriner mandoline...they are pretty small, inexpensive, and work well. The bigger boys are overkill for me, and are a pain to assemble and clean.

                                    2. I use mine a few times a week. My food processor does not handle an entire beet or potato round. I use it mostly for super thin and even slicing. Cleaning a mandoline is a lot easier than the food processor, too. If you are not good with your hands, be sure to get one with a safe guard. I use a micro-glove as others have suggested, and am very careful with the last few slices. If you are always making small quantities and good with a knife--you probably could do just as well with a really good knife. Unfortunately, I can't see to regulate a cut to the perfection I want with various dishes. If I am making a potato gratin, I want those slices exactly the same thickness or else the cooking will be uneven. If I am feeding a crowd a sandwich bar, I want to slice those tomatoes and onions thin and with speed.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Lauriero

                                        I cannot imagine tomatoes being hard enough to cut on the mandoline that were also good enough to eat. What is your trick?

                                        1. re: escondido123

                                          I have a v-slicer which has absolutely no problem cutting even the ripest tomatoes into nice, thin, even slices.

                                      2. Mine is mostly used for sauerkraut. No way I can consistently cut that thin with a knife.

                                        1. I use it weekly at least. Indispensable for potatoes, cole slaw. etc

                                          A kevlar kitchen glove is good protection if you need it.

                                          1. I bought one of these over 20 years ago and I'm still using it with no problems. It takes up very little counter space, is easy to clean, and does the job on potatoes/onions way better than a knife. Highly recommended. http://www.amazon.com/Swissmar-Borner...

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: grampart

                                              I have 2 Kyocera mini mandolines....and use all the time. Great for potatoes and onions. Don't drink any wine before using, really.

                                            2. You're right. You can seriously injure yourself with a mandoline. Yes, I have one. I don't use it every day, but when need it -- and there are times when I do need it -- it had better be there! I would not consider my kitchen "well equipped" without one. However, I've never felt a need to invest in one of those big metal jobs with the built in legs and all. I've been using my Benriner since 1961 or '62. It's still sharp as new after all of these years. I have lost the julienne blades that came with it, but I see them on amazon.com, so all I have to do is order a set and once again I will be able to shave long skinny juliennes of carrots, tie three strands of them in a knot, and toss them in salads and wait for everybody to go, 'Awwww..." I heartily recommend a Benriner. And I'm pleased to see that many professional chefs on TV use one too! Whatever you decide, I think you'll find mandolines are great! But I never use mine to slice tomatoes. Uh unh. That's just wrong.

                                              1. Hi, b_g_b:

                                                I have and use two: One is a heavy, fancy, French, stainless steel Miu multiblade (but from Costco) that has Guillotine-style (straight) blades. The other is a cheap, German, plastic, fixed (but two positions), V-shaped-bladed. I use the cheap one a lot--that converging V-shape is *wicked* mechnically at slicing! I find I only use the Miu when I have a lot to do, or need crinkle-cut or julienne, which is to say I use the cheapo 95% of the time. It is *extremely* easy to clean and compact to store.

                                                Comparing with the FP, I use mandolines exclusively for anything that requires totally uniform, thin slices, or julienne. I *hate* the FP for that work--it's too abrupt, feed-sensitive, and wasteful of food, prep time, and (most importantly, because I consider it a Royal Bitch) clean-up time.

                                                I wish I was adept and adroit enough to Zen it though bowls of uniform, repeatable slices and juliennes using only a knife, but alas...

                                                Aloha,
                                                Kaleo

                                                1. have owned several cheap- to mid-range mandolines over the years, all of which ended up at Goodwill after being used once or twice a year at most - dust collector and space hog, IMO.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    Many are so thin I would hesitate calling them space hogs but I too use them only a few times a year

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      Hi Sunshine,

                                                      What is the reason for <all of which ended up at Goodwill after being used once or twice a year at most>? Is it because they don't live up to your expectation? Or is it because you don't much of a chance to use them?

                                                      I didn't bring mine (which would have been a Benriner) because I don't think I would use it very often and for whatever I would use it for, my knife can adequately do so. I was 'that' close to buy a Benrier mandoline for my daikon or radish cake. While checking out, the supply store clerk/owner was the one who told me that he has one and he didn't have much use for it and that I should get a regular grater. I ended up buying none.

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        because when I move I tend to take all the stuff that I never used to Goodwill. I'm not going to spend the time an energy to pack it, and I'm sure not going to pay someone else to do so.

                                                        I found them a comparative PITA to assemble, disassemble, wash, and store -- I have much better than average knife skills, and I can be halfway done with the job before I'm finished fiddling around with the mandoline.

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          <I found them a comparative PITA to assemble, disassemble, wash, and store>

                                                          Got it. Thanks.

                                                    2. Both.

                                                      As others have said, you don't use it often, but when you DO need it, nothing else will really suffice. I used mine last week to make a fine julienne (almost a shred, but neater) of asian pears to combine w/ chiffonade kale, mint and a few red pepper pieces to make a fall slaw. Prior to that was probably 2 months ago when I made super thin potato slices to line a baking pan as a low fat alternative to pie crust for a quiche.

                                                      1. I agree with the general chorus here: not used every day but hugely handy on occasion.
                                                        Makes easy work of thin-sliced potatoes in quantity, does a bowl of onions too fast for tears, and rinses clean in seconds. V-blade works fine on ripe tomatoes, though for just one or two I don't bother pulling it out. Takes up very little cabinet space in my tiny kitchen and cost was under $25. Recommended even if you only use it once in a while.

                                                        I'm fine with the plastic protective feeder and have never cut myself, but if I were using it often I'd consider a kevlar glove. And if I were doing slaw or kraut frequently I'd spend a few dollars more for a widebody version.

                                                        1. I own two:
                                                          -- A big DeBuyer, with the legs, interchangeable blades, etc. Big space hog, somewhat klutzy to use, and a major pain to clean up. I only use it for big slicing projects like french onion soup or gratins. Shortly after purchasing, I discovered:
                                                          -- Small Kyocera ceramic-blade variety. Stores easily, great for quick jobs like slicing onion for sandwiches (my knife skills aren't so great), fast cleanup. I use this at least a couple of times a week, and would never give it up.

                                                          That said, I've cut myself a couple of times (with the Kyocera; I always use the guard with the DeBuyer) and now have one of those cut-resistant gloves on order. I'm thinking of selling the DeBuyer on craigslist and getting one of the adjustable Kyoceras.

                                                          1. one day a year i make a whole mess of saurkraut. so i should get one for that. but ill just keep using the knife for two reasons.

                                                            1. i really enjoy using the knife. i find it peaceful to chop veggies and stuff, even all day.
                                                            2. aside from saurkraut, i dont really ever need one. i never need that many julienned and thinly sliced stuff that would merit getting one.

                                                            alton brown used one often on good eats, so they are def. a useful tool.

                                                            1. I got one about 30 years ago and use it nearly every week. The pusher eventually got a lot of nubs cut off, but I found another pusher at a thrift store to replace it.

                                                              I dispensed with the pusher altogether once I discovered a glove that had stainless steel woven into it. So much faster.

                                                              I'd say it was about 5 years ago that I thought I'd upgrade to the one that W&S was selling for $200. I returned it to the store. Too complicated, too dangerous (just moving the blades in and out) and it did not do a better job.

                                                              1. A knife meets most of my cutting needs, but I find my basic Borner V-Slicer very handy for julienning carrots and radishes, something I don't have the patience for otherwise. It's also great for uniformly slicing large quantities of things like cucumbers, potatoes, and zucchini on those rare occasional when I need to do that. You might start with an inexpensive slicer like the Borner and see how it goes before you invest in a fancy mandoline.

                                                                1. Have relatively inexpensive madolin... think it's a Mouli... for sure under $20. Had snap in things for 2 thickness of plain slices, one for SKINNY juilienne, and one for something like a french fry. Have had it for years, use it a lot and is still SHARP... like use the guard sharp.

                                                                  It's great for lots of thin potato sliced for scallop/gratin. Works best with hard veggies/fruit.

                                                                  1. I usually use a knife for most cuts that a Mandoline can do... equal small Julienne cuts at speed is tough to duplicate with a knife, however the handheld Julienne Peelers work pretty well and can cut about the same speed (or faster) than a mandoline.

                                                                    http://www.amazon.com/Kuhn-Rikon-Juli...

                                                                    1. I only use mine when I need to do volume special cuts. Never been concerned about it being dangerous because they aren't if you 1) read the directions; 2) watch an online video from a trained chef on how to use them; and 3) use it for what it's good for.

                                                                      1. A must have if for nothing else but to blame for the cuts incurred due to poor knife skills.
                                                                        I only take mine out of it's coffin in the dark, dank basement when I'm processing large amounts of ingredients for a party or gathering. Even then... even with days of practice and professional instruction this demonic instrument exacts it's reward in blood and swearing to the deities.
                                                                        After careful washing and polishing, it sit sparkling in it's innocence daring me to approach as I've done so many times before only to bleed again in payment for my fear and conspicuous neglect.

                                                                        1. I'm in the boat with Kaleo, I'm not good enough with a knife to get the level of perfection I want, so if I'm looking for consistancy, then I reach for something other than a knife. I recently bought a Rösle slicer, less versitle than a mandoline, but takes up very little space. One like this: http://www.rosleusa.com/Adjustable-Sl... and I think it's great for the slicing I do. This is quick, easy to clean, and stores in almost any space available. I have a cut resistant glove for those things that don't have a built in handle like a zucchinni.

                                                                          1. The one and only dish I use my mandolin (which I make several times during the summer) is gazpacho. The advantage of the mandolin during gazpacho is less mess and more practicality as you need all of the juices from the tomato, onion, cucumber, etc. in your bowl. The mandolin that I have has grooves to fit over a bowl so it works out well.

                                                                            Also, when I feel like it, I make waffle fries - no knife can do that.

                                                                            1. I use mine 3-4 times a month...mainly for potatoes.and yes....once made the tip of a finger disappear into what would have been potatoes au gratin.

                                                                              But i still like it if I'm doing thinly slice potatoe or larger quantities of somethining like shredded carrots

                                                                              1. I got my Benriner years ago and love it. It slices carrots beautifully thin. Or juliennes them. I see it often used on Iron Chef. Great tool.

                                                                                1. Knife work is a lot like penmanship. Some people are just never than good with it, no matter how much practice they put in. Yes, you can get pretty good with practice, but there are some that just will never be able to replicate the beautiful, even, and thin slices that the best cooks can achieve. If you happen to be blessed with an outstanding talent for knife work, you don't need it.

                                                                                  I'm pretty happy with my knife skills. I'm at a place where I can quickly prep any vegetable in any way that I need (at least so far). I take a sick pleasure in quickly getting a perfect brunoise from a carrot. My penmanship is for crap, but I can use a knife!

                                                                                  That said, I still use the mandoline maybe 6 times per year. Sometimes more, sometimes less. It's really great for gratins and potato chips. I also, surprisingly to me, use it very frequently for shaved fennel salads and a raw zucchini salad. It's pretty invaluable for those tasks. The end product is just a little better than what I can produce by hand, but it's just much faster and easier.

                                                                                  Unlike a food processor, which I don't think does a very good job with things like chopping, I think the mandoline is more than just a time saver. It actually does give you a product that is better than what you do by hand unless you are an absolute master with the blade. If that's the case, at least it'll save you a bit of time.

                                                                                  For me, only the Benriner wide model (or something similar) is worth owning, and only then if you know that you'll employ it every couple of months, at least. It's very slim so it's easy to store out of the way. It's relatively cheap. It's good at what it does. Other models might be better machines, but they are often more expensive and much larger and more than likely a waste in a typical kitchen.