In a previous post, I talked about lusting after a deBuyer Mandoline (this is not a typo, it is French for Mandolin), and then I got one for Xmas. I’ve used it quite a few times since then a couple of people have asked whether or not I’ve been enjoying it, I have been so I decided to write a review for anyone else considering getting one.
It’s taken me awhile to get to know to use my mandolin, but now I’m able to use it quite proficiently without wasting food. In the beginning, not so much. If you’re trying to impress friends at a dinner party with your even cuts, I would not suggest using this for the first time then. I'd strongly suggest that you use it a few times to get a feel for how it works, because unless you've used one of these before you probably won't get it right the first time.
In the box you will find:
- 1 how-to booklet,
- 1 double julienne blade,
- 1 double horizontal blade,
- 1 pusher,
- 1 slider,
- 1 mandolin base with an extendable swing arm,
- 1 CD/DVD with a how-to video (which I couldn't find at the time that I photographed these)
I never read manuals, so I sure as heck wasn’t going to look at a 30-minute promotional video that looked like it was filmed in 1980. Instead I consulted the oracle – YouTube, and 3 minutes later I was on my way. I’m dividing up this review into a couple of areas, and I hope it helps you with your decision should you decide to get this mandolin.
Getting into the swing of things
Setting this up is extremely easy. The unit comes folded so all you need to do to “unpack” it is simply to extend the arm. The arm can be angled to multiple heights so that it can fit over most standard height kitchen prep bowls. Although the waffle pattern on the base is designed to help move the food along, I’ve found that lubricating the metal plate on the base immensely helpful. Lubrication helps guide the vegetables, particularly starchy vegetables, which prevents thick uneven and choppy cuts that result from jerkily moving back and forth over the base and blades.
It’s not THE electric slide
The red pusher and grey slide are designed to slide over the base and guide the food across the blades. Attach the slide by placing it onto the track (opening on the side with the arm). Then place the item being sliced into opening on the slide then secure in place by pushing down on the pusher, and grab the food item using the tines in the pusher. Once you get the food on, you must hold the pusher quite firmly between your index and middle finger to guide it along the slider. It feels terribly awkward, but with the right amount of pressure you can actually get some decent cuts.
To be honest, using the pusher and slide is not very convenient or as easy as I'd like. The two pieces are designed to work together if you are slicing an item that fits perfectly within this ring. If you are trying to slice carrots, or cabbage you’re outta luck and will have to use your fingers - very carefully.
Let’s cut to the quick
The blades are ultra sharp and should be handled with extreme care. I found that changing the blades was pretty straightforward and intuitive. This mandolin has no settings to help guide you on the thickness of your cuts. To adjust thickness, you need to simultaneously loosen both screw dials on either side of the base, move the metal plate up or down to the desired thickness, then re-tighten both screws. As you can imagine, it's not always easy to get the size perfectly right every time, which can be frustrating for the perfectionist.
On the plus side, when the metal plate is set at the highest setting, the double horizontal blades can produce slices that are paper-thin. I recently made a cabbage slaw and found it was easily able to cut the cabbage to the thickness I needed. To do this I had to slice the cabbage by hand, instead of using the pusher - there’s that size thing again.
Using the julienne blades for the first, second, fourth or fifth time can be challenging. I’ve found that practice makes perfect but even then be prepared you may end up with broken, uneven or chunky pieces instead of the perfectly julienned pieces that you imagined. Most times I simply use my chef’s knife and my cutting board to give me the size of pieces that I want.
Clean-up of this unit is a breeze. I always remove the blades from the unit and wash them separately in the cutlery tray. All of the other pieces can be stacked with the rest of the dishes in the dishwasher.
So what would Olive and Ruby say about the deBuyer La Swing Mandoline?
- Olive would say – “Great gift keep using it, who really needs anything julienned?”
- Ruby would say – “I’m an old school girl, give me a knife, and a cutting board and I’ll give you perfect cuts.”
- I say – “Don't look a gift mandolin in the mouth. I wanted it. I got it and I'm gonna keep using it because no damn julienne blade is gonna get the best of me.”
Copyright © 2013, Olive & Ruby. All rights reserved.