I’ve had a Mandoline slicer for many years. I bought my old one after seeing an ad on TV, and it lasted for at least 20 years. In fact, there’s still not much wrong with it now, apart from the state of its box after all this time.
But – and being a sucker for these things, though in recent years I’ve tried to break the habit – I saw another ad on TV a few months ago for the Börner V5 Slicer. It was all shouty, as they usually are, but I thought to myself that the old one was about ready for replacing, so I took the plunge. Since I’ve had it, I’ve used it a few times for the usual things, but it wasn’t until tonight that I needed to dice some carrots.
Now, as anyone knows, dicing carrots is a major pain in the backside. They’re quite brittle, for one thing, and bits go everywhere. And seeing as they’re also quite hard, if you have a lot of dicing to do you’re likely to end up with blisters from holding the knife, and cuts if you don’t maintain concentration. And unless you take forever over it, the finished dice isn’t necessarily a ‘dice’ – it is more of a selection of trapezoidal things, and they’re not uniformly-sized trapezoidal things, either.
My old Mandoline couldn’t do this, but tonight I finally figured out how to do it on the Börner – though I have to admit I needed to study their demo video closely several times until it clicked in my head what was happening.
You see, if you use a normal home Mandoline with a slicing blade fitted, the short vertical blades create the strip cuts, and the main V-blade detaches them from the bulk. So you only get strips. The only way to dice, therefore, is to manually cut lengthways into whatever it is you’re dicing, then use the Mandoline with those cuts at 90° to the V-blade (or alternatively, cut strips and then dice them separately, which also tends towards trapezoidality (I made that word up) and is also a pain). It’s dangerous enough even with soft things like cucumbers, and you still have to be precise with your cuts if you want a uniform dice. With carrots – and their aforementioned physical properties – you’ve got no chance.
I was sitting here tonight thinking how the hell can a Mandoline be used to dice quickly when I decided to look at the Börner website. Sure enough, they say it can dice, but they don’t explain how. The video shows them doing it, but the only thing it mentions – and only then in passing – is that you alternately slice with 90° turns of the safety holder. For me, I needed to understand why. And then it clicked.
On the Börner, the slicing plates have two positions they can be moved to, and one of the positions clearly shows cubes. Here’s the secret: the cube (dice) position pushes the blade tips higher than the V-blade, so when you slice, the bulk item in the holder is pre-cut above the V-blade ready for the next slide, and when you turn the guard 90° for that slide, the next V-cut produces a dice, and another pre-cut is made for the next slide. So alternately slide-twist-slide-twist and so on gives you a uniform dice. My old one couldn’t do this, presumably for safety reasons, because if you use a Mandoline without using the safety holder you will lose parts of fingers at some point, and if the slicing blades can protrude higher, you’ll end up shredding the bits that are still attached to your hand. The Börner is German, and Germans are far more practical about such things, and probably feel as I do in that if you use the damned thing without the safety holder it serves you bloody right if you cut yourself. It’s certainly served me right all the times I used the old one without the guard and cut myself.
So now I can dice things quickly and precisely. And it only took 40 years to figure out how.