I had my traditional knife and cutting board set up at the counter to slice my cucumbers to make pickles, when my professional chef daughter breezed in the door arriving home from work. As she passed me, she said in a friendly, but firm manner, “Mandoline. I’ll be right back.”
She has, in the past, been very patient with my reticence to use this frightfully efficient slicing tool. Maybe it was the gory stories she came home from work with. However, she had requested one for a gift a couple years ago, and has used it at home since without significant incident.
I guess seeing me standing there with a mound of cucumbers to slice was just too much for her. It was time to help me see the benefits and learn to do it safely.
Maybe it is the nurse in me. Every time I hear the quick slice of the mandoline, it sounds like it is cutting flesh. Technically, it “is,” but just the “flesh” of the fruits and vegetables. The key to avoiding “other” flesh, the professional chef says, is to always stop cutting if you look away, even if you think it will just be for a second. Also, slice more slowly until you get a sense of not only how the mandoline cuts, but how it feels with each vegetable or fruit.
In the video below, you can see that using the “holder” didn’t work for cucumbers, but was perfect for the onions. The cucumbers were too long and flexible to be held by it well. It could not hold them adequately against the force of the cutting. (See comment about cut glove below)
The limiting factor with the onion was how big around. She recommends cutting off the “top” end of the onion, peeling it, then attaching the holder to the root end. She thinks the root end is stiffer and holds together better.
Since my initial lesson (which is what the video shows), I have used the mandoline 2 more times by myself. All my integument is still intact. It has been easy to change out the blades and adjust the width of the cut, too.
This is the brand of mandoline we have: OXO Good Grips Mandoline Slicer (not currently available). It is not exactly like ours, but very close.
(Edit 9.15.2022: This is the mandoline I bought for myself this summer. And the “cut” glove that gave me more peace of mind.)
If my professional chef moves out some day (edit: she did), and I need to get my own mandoline, I will probably get one like this. You know I will be making pickles because I have my pickle making psychosis.