Up until recently there have been two mandolines (a device used to cut food that is a cross between a cheese grater and a razor blade that, while very effective, it might be intimidating and/or dangerous without the right amount of experience and concentration):
Despite the limitations of the much more affordable hand slicer, it is a tool that I use 5-10 times a week. I tend to use the Mandoline around 5 times a year (typically when preparing a large batch of preserves).
A few months ago I decided to buy this modified mandoline which cuts matchstick/ julienne style cuts:
Despite looking (and sometimes feeling like) a cruel trap for ones fingers, I’ve found it extremely useful although there are a few significant negatives that one should account for.
- It’s very efficient. You can knock a carrot into matchsticks in seconds.
- It’s relatively small.
- It eliminates the need to pull my large mandoline out if I want matchsticks (the hand-slicer won’t do that).
- It’s extremely sharp.
- It’s affordable (around $12).
- It sits on top of a bowl fairly well and stable.
- Despite being small, it still takes up room in our very limited cupboard.
- It’s another piece of plastic in our kitchen.
- It’s a single use tool that could be replaced with a knife and some time.
- It takes more pressure to cut than the straight mandoline which makes errors easier.
- The more pressure can add to the mess when shredding.
- It looks scary (imagine wrapping your knuckles across its surface when a carrot slips!)
- It’s difficult to use a guard as much of the cutting is vertical (i..e. a carrot would be held vertically, not horizontally). I tend to cut half a carrot with it and use the rest for something else.
- It’s not horrible to clean but it’s more difficult that a straight edge as small pieces of vegetables can get stuck in it.
- This one didn’t come with a guard.
- Quartering a carrot (to make long sticks) makes this incrementally easier to use – but it also makes the matchsticks much shorter.
- It’s not adjustable – this is a negative because it’s not flexible but a positive because it is very stable.
- At times the force needed to make a cut appears to tear tougher vegetables (like carrots) and softer fruit wouldn’t stand a chance (it would be turned to pulp). A knife would create consistently prettier result (but add considerable time).
Summary: there is nothing this device can do that you can’t accomplish with a knife or a more expensive mandoline if you already have one. It’s not an ideal device if you aren’t already comfortable using a mandoline and, even then, it’s a little scary! Having said that, it is a decent luxury product that can drastically speed up this specialized cut while being easy to use and clean and I’ve found myself using far more julienne cuts than I would if I were cutting them with a knife..
Do you (or would you) us this?