The world of kitchen gadgets expands every day. From blenders, food processors, bread makers and dual ovens, both experienced cooks and those new to the kitchen often love experimenting with new tools. There is one category of instruments, however, that no kitchen can do without--cutting implements. Without these, cooks would be lost with no way to dice, cube or slice things for their recipes. Fortunately, the world of cutting instruments is wide and highly varied. It does not just contain knives, though they are just as important as other implements.
Though some cooks have just one knife that they use for everything, others prefer to have a collection of knives. This collection usually includes a paring knife and a utility knife. The paring knife has a short, sharp blade that is easy to control for peeling, slicing and coring small fruits and vegetables. The utility knife is the paring knife’s big brother; it has a slightly larger blade good for breaking down larger fruits and vegetables before the cook works on them with the paring knife. Both knives have smooth, sharp blades. Many kitchens also contain serrated knives with jagged edges for gently sawing through delicate produce like tomatoes and soft food like breads. Those who prefer to keep just one knife usually choose a chef’s knife; this knife has a pointed, wedge-shaped blade about 8 inches long and can perform almost any task.
Slicers and Mandolins
Mandolins usually come in the form of flat, rectangular plastic frames with a handle. In the center of the frame is a rectangular hole with a blade set on one side. A cook slides produce over the hole to create thin slices of food. Quick, experienced chefs can slide a piece of food up and down very quickly over the mandolin, while less experienced persons should work more slowly to avoid injury.
Slicers can cut produce but are usually put to work slicing cheese. They often look like small metal spatulas with a slit in the wide spatula part. The slit is sharpened so a cook can drag it over cheese and make very thin slices.
Apple Corers and Graters
For those who eat a lot of apples or have children who love fruit, apple corers are life savers. These circular instruments have thin metal blades set in a wheel-spoke pattern inside the frame. A cook simply centers the small, center circle over an apple’s stem and pushes down, creating several evenly cut apple slices perfect for dipping or slicing up for pie.
Graters usually come in the form of flat metal sheets with many holes punched in them. The holes are sharpened and come in several sizes. Cooks slide cheese, vegetables or fruit up and down over the holes to create small pieces of food that can go in salads or other recipes.