“Does anyone have a mandoline that they like?” I recently asked at a meeting.
“I prefer to keep my fingertips,” was an actual response from one of my coworkers, as well as the overall sentiment from almost everyone I have asked. One coworker even brought hers in for me to check out, and I cut myself within 15 seconds of removing it from the box. This, after knowing how easy it is to cut one’s self before I even touched it!
My first mandoline was a wedding present that my wife added to our registry, which happened to also be the first time I had ever heard of a mandoline (although I was familiar with the other mandolin). I started cooking a few years after that and eventually got around to “using” it. By “using” it, I mean I felt like I was “rolling the dice and betting my fingertips” every time I pushed an ingredient past the blade.
I had zero confidence in its construction; the adjustable pieces were difficult to adjust; and the legs collapsed the second (and final) time I used it. I gave it to a friend and I’m pretty sure he still has most of his fingertips. (Maybe he has these?)
Fast forward to last month, when I wanted to make pickles. Like, pounds and pounds of Asian-style, perfectly sliced, slim, straight, pickled daikon and carrot. And I wasn’t going to spend all day doing it with my a knife. Re-enter the mandoline.
First, research. I didn’t trust the legs on my previous one to hold, and I didn’t see any design that changed my mind on this. I did see that most models used grippy-rubber-end-pieces. Even models with legs now work without needing to use them because of the grippy-rubber-end-peices. This design feature alone restored hope that a non-scary mandoline exists.
The next feature I considered was a non-threatening way of replacing the blades. There are several designs for adjusting blades that KEEP YOUR FINGERS AWAY FROM THE BLADES. (This was not the case for my first mandoline). Some models use dials, sliders, or buttons to adjust the slice height and blade replacement. Not scary at all.
Since there is not a mandoline testing station (that I am aware of) in SLT HQ, my last step was checking reviews, and I was totally reassured when I found that America’s Test Kitchen recommended the mandoline I was already pretty sold on: the Swissmar Börner VPower Mandoline. It has a comfortable handle, great grippy-rubber-end-pieces, easy and safe blade replacement, and the blades and food holder store safely underneath.
I made my pounds of pickles (recipe below), and it took a fraction of the time it would have with a knife. I’ve also made potato chips that turned out well. Carrot chips and cucumber chips were also thumbs up. Overall, I’ve spent about an hour using it so far, and I feel comfortable. But not too comfortable.
Just like with a knife, there is still potential for fingertip slicing inherent in any mandoline, but this model really reduces the risk for me with its design and construction. I also don’t mind sacrificing that last inch of carrot to lessen the risk to my fingertips.
Do you have a mandoline you love? Or any fun, or not so fun, stories about a mandoline?
*Also, this model has an umlaut in the name. Everything is better with an umlaut.
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