Product Review: Benriner Mandoline

We have talked about our love of the Benriner mandoline and slicer before now, but I personally had yet to try one out. Yes, shockingly, I didn't own a mandoline - waiting until I had a bigger kitchen, more space, and relief from a current gadget overload. Then a very kind coworker who shall remain anonymous (but whose initials begin with Sara Kate) sent me one.

Christmas come early! I set to work julienning carrots and shaving fennel. How does this economical little mandoline work, and why should you think about owning one? Take a look and see...

The Benriner mandoline/slicer comes with the basic plastic slicer, three attachment blades, a hand guard and instruction book.

The basic blade that is fixed permanently in the slicer does much of what you would want a mandolinee to do: Slice hard vegetables into paper-thin slices. But you can also insert a second blade to make thin strips or beautifully shaped thin slices of zucchini, carrot, broccoli, and more. The screws on the back let you tighten in or remove the secondary blades.

The back can also be tilted slightly to adjust for thinner or thicker slices from the main blade.

This little gadget made slicing fennel for our recent Orange, Olive and Fennel Salad a brilliantly brief chore. I usually carefully slice fennel with a very sharp knife. But running four fennel bulbs over this produced lightning-fast, perfectly shaved slices that I could see through.

Hardly the effect I was getting with a knife.

Of course, it's best to hold the vegetable you're slicing down with the plastic finger guard. As many can attest, a mandoline and its sharp blades are an enticingly dangerous contraption. It's very easy to fly over the blades and suddenly come to the end of your vegetable (and your fingers). I used the finger guard mostly but confess to working down the nubs of fennel with just my fingers. Use caution, but the increased speed of slicing and shaving here is worth the extra caution you take.

All in all, this is a brilliant gadget and I wish I'd had it sooner. It is a major time-saver and it stores flat in a drawer or cupboard - ideally in a plastic bag to protect unsuspecting fingers rummaging through the cupboard.

The blades are made of carbon steel; they should keep their edge for a long time as long as they are washed and carefully dried. They will rust if not dried thoroughly.

Do you own a mandoline or slicer like this? What's your favorite thing to cut with it?

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• Buy the Benriner Mandoline, $23.47 at Amazon
• Also! Entertainment alert - check out the action shots at SharpKnives.com

(Images: Faith Hopler and
Amazon)