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Mandolins, Vegetable Peelers & Zesters

Mandolins

slicerstyles

Single Task Mandolins - 1/8" slicer & julienne blade

These are my most favorite kitchen tools, and the ones I use over and over again.

They create effects that once could only be achieved by professional chefs. Now you can julienne, matchstick, and slice veggies just like the pros!

Traditional mandolins have a base with a variety of interchangeable cutting blades. However increasing in popularity are the single task style mandolins.

Single task mandolins/slicers are quicker and easier to use since you’re not handling the sharp blades.

japanesemandoli

Traditional Mandolin

For that reason I prefer the single-use style cutters as shown above.  The 3 slicers I routinely use are;

  1. julienne/matchstick - the veggies can be cut short or long julienne, depending on how you hold the veggie.
  2. 1/8" slicer
  3. adjustable mandolin - where the straight blade depth can be changed from  1/8" - 1/2" thick with only the turn of a button/dial.

Using these types of mandolins are great for small jobs. However if you need to do a lot of slicing, like for scalloped potatoes, best to use the slicer attachment on a food processor.

What to look for when buying mandolins

  • Because sharp and precise cutting blades are the key to getting the effect you want, the quality of the tool will likely be reflected in the price. The higher the price, the better quality the blade. Also they will retain their sharp edge longer, and will not rust.
  • A cutting blade that is at least  3.5" wide. This should fit most larger veggies like onions and potatoes, without the need to cut them smaller to be able to run it through the cutting blade.
  • Comfortable grip
  • The blades on these cutters are extremely sharp and the protective guard should be used whenever possible.

 GFC Tried & Tested Recommendations

Vegetable peelers

vegpeelertypes

Fixed blade and 3 types of swivel blades

There are several types of vegetable peelers available with the most common being – straight (fixed blade), and those with a swivel blade.

Swivel peelers have blades that pivot and move along the vegetable, and are great for veggies with uneven surfaces.

I have yet to find a good use for my fixed blade peeler, and don't recommend them at all. They are hard to use, and take twice as long to do the same quality of job as the swivel type.

What to look for when buying vegetable peelers

  • There are several ways manufactures choose to attach the blade to the handle, but the most efficient are those that have a large opening between the blade and the handle (red Y-style in picture above), or those that have nothing behind the blade (2nd peeler from right). Those with little clearance (2nd from left) easily clog up with peelings, causing you to stop to clear the blade area, making the task take longer than it should. The two peelers on the right are the best types of swivel peelers, as they quickly and cleanly remove the peelings without clogging up
  • Handle must be comfortable.
  • Ensure the blades are stainless steel, lesser quality metal blades will quickly dull and rust. Ceramic blades are very sharp but are also prone to chipping if you’re not careful with them.

 GFC Tried & Tested Recommendations

Zesters

microplaneZesters have come a long way since their bullet-hole pattern on the side of those old four-sided box graters.

Now made with high-quality stainless steel and precision cut patterns, there is a wide range of handheld zesters that produce a variety cuts.

Not just for citrus anymore, you can use zesters for things like garlic, ginger, nutmeg, and even chocolate.oxoribbonzester

Another tool that removes the zest from citrus is a ribbon zester. This tool has small cutting holes that when it is pulled across the surface of the citrus, creates long thin ribbons.

Mainly used for garnish/decorations, most of companies that make these tools are very similar in design and should preform equally well.

Tips for zesting

  • Lemons with thick pebbly-textured skins are the easiest to zest and produce the most zest
  • Before zesting scrub skin to remove its waxy coating
  • Remove only the yellow part of the skin, ot the bitter white pith below
  • Zest a lemon before you juice it
  • Freeze any extra  zest in a sealed container for up to 3 months

What to look for when buying a zester 

boxgratezester

Avoid bullet-hole style, it does a poor job with garlic and ginger (and are very hard to clean)

  • Use those with flat style blades only. The bullet-hole style may be good for hard items like nutmeg, but any soft foods like garlic or ginger will get caught up on its cutting surface, and its extremely time-consuming and frustrating to try and get it all out (and what does come out the  other side is more mush than zested.
  • Sturdy and comfortable handle.
  • Some come with a protective cover which is helpful but not necessary.
  • Those that are higher priced will be made of better quality steel and be able to retain sharp cutting edges longer.
  • Choose the zester based on what you need it for - smaller cuts are used for citrus and garlic, whereas larger cuts can be used more like a grater for things like chocolate or hard cheeses.

GFC Tried & Tested Recommendations

All the products that we have recommended have been tried and tested in our Gluten Free Club Test Kitchen, and have been chosen as our top picks based on their:

  • Efficiency 
  • Quality of the task they are designed to do
  • Quality of manufacturing/Longevity
  • Usefulness
  • Best value for your money

If you decide to purchase any of the items we recommend, Amazon will send a small percentage of the purchase price to the Gluten Free Club (at no extra cost to you!). We appreciate and value your support, thank you!


To see all our favorite kitchen items that we use and recommend in; Bakeware & Cookware, Small Appliances, Kitchen Tools & Gadgets, Knives, and Recommended Cookbooks, check out our shopping page at Amazon.com eStore - Gluten Free Club


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