In our experience, a mandoline is not the best tool for slicing:
- Hard- or soft-cooked eggs
- Cured meats
- Semifirm cheeses
- Soft, ripe fruits, including very ripe tomatoes
When it comes to even cuts, no kitchen tool can rival the mandoline, the paddle-like slicing blade that can quickly reduce fruits and vegetables to slices, slivers, rounds, ribbons and shreds. Even a food processor’s slicing disk can’t compete. In our testing, a mandoline yielded slices four times thinner than the processor.
At one time, the only mandolines available were large French stainless-steel models that sold for $200 or more. Today, mandolines are an affordable addition to any kitchen, with quality options costing as little as $30. At Milk Street, we spent a few weeks working with our favorite mandoline—the no-frills Benriner—while develop- ing two shaved salads. In the process, we noted several tips that helped us make better use of our mandoline, including safety practices and ways to make slicing simpler.
First and foremost, safety. The sharp blade of a mandoline can be intimidating. Using the hand guard that comes with many models is a good start, but wearing a cut-resistant glove made us even more comfortable. Look for one with a snug fit.
A few more practices make slicing easier and safer. For rounded fruits and vegetables, first create a at edge by cutting off a small piece before slicing. Use firm, even pressure to slide food smoothly against the blade. Look for a natural handle—the stem end of a radish or the root end of radicchio, for instance—to hold when slicing. And finally, know when to stop; don’t attempt to slice until there is no more to slice.