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What are Mandolines?

By Staff

Mandolines are useful tools in the kitchen for those who like to cook and are interested in quality food presentation and easy preparation. Mandolines are slicing utensils that cut even and uniform slices of almost any size and most models can also julienne cut food into smaller strips. By using this kitchen utensil, fruits, vegetables and other food items can be easy sliced and diced into equally sized pieces, ensuring that food destined for cooking is cooked evenly and that raw foods look pleasing to the eye.

What are Mandolines?

Mandolines work by having two surfaces that are parallel to one another. One surface remains stationary and contains a sharp and straight cutting blade. The other surface is adjustable, so that the size of the cut can be changed as needed. Food is placed along the adjustable surface and moved along the surface until it comes in contact with the blade. Once the food hits the blade, it is sliced according to the thickness set by the difference in the two parallel surfaces and the food then drops from the blade onto a preparation surface, plate or bowl.

The main advantage of using mandolines in the kitchen is that the blade of the utensil can easily be adjusted to slice food at almost any thickness. Mandolines allow users to create perfectly uniform slices, whether the user requires very thick slices (such as when slicing a potato into thick steak fries) or extremely thin ones (such as when slicing a potato thin enough to make into potato chips). Mandolines are especially helpful when very thin cuts are required since it would otherwise be difficult to make the same cuts using a regular kitchen knife.

Another feature of many mandolines is that they can create julienne cuts. Julienne cuts turn the uniform slices into strips. Mandolines can julienne cut food with an additional blade that is set perpendicular to the primary slicing blade and the blade can also be adjusted to create julienne cuts of varying sizes.

Some mandolines, in addition to creating uniform slices of varying sizes as well as julienne cuts of different thicknesses, can be equipped with blades that make more decorative cuts, such as crinkle cuts and waffle cuts. This feature adds to the unique presentation capabilities (link to creative ways to dress up food article) that mandolines offer to the modern chef, without the additional work what would be required from using a standard kitchen knife. In fact, not only do mandolines offer a myriad of opportunities to create dishes with beautifully cut fruits, vegetables and other food items, but they actually make the job of cutting, slicing and dicing much easier than a knife does.

Mandolines are available in a selection of models that are offered in varying price ranges (link to mandoline styles article). There are professional quality utensils that provide a wide selection of cutting blades and include high quality blades that can withstand constant use without easily dulling. There are also mandolines available at lower price points that have similar functionality, without some of the bells and whistles of the higher priced models. These models may be made of materials that are not quite as high quality as professional models, but are still of excellent quality for the amount of use typically seen by non-professional chefs.

One consideration to keep in mind when using mandolines in the kitchen is that they should always be used with care because they contain very sharp blades that can cause injury if not used properly. [See article: Mandolines and Safety] But, other than taking precautions to ensure that no injury is suffered during their use, mandolines are an extremely versatile tool for the modern kitchen that can make the job of food preparation easy and can add to the finished presentation of many dishes.

Published: October 9, 2009

For additional information on mandolines or mandoline topics please visit our mandoline article center.

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