For a long time now, the Accidental Locavore has been wanting to put a pack of peelers through their paces, but for some unknown (unseasonal?) reason, hasn’t remembered to buy an eggplant or two to really put the peelers to the test. In the meantime, a few peelers that reputedly julienne have appeared in my kitchen. Since I needed some carrots peeled and julienned to pickle for some future banh mi, it seemed to be a perfect opportunity to see if any of them performed as promised.
- The “artsy” one: I picked this set up at the Museum of Modern Art. It’s a set of three, beautifully packaged, two peelers and a julienne. According to the package “These are the three best stainless steel vegetable peelers in the world!” so I needed to try them out. The julienne one was easy to use and made great strips of carrot. Two minor drawbacks: you need the pink (carrot) peeler to actually peel the carrot, and washing it was a little tricky as bits of carrot got stuck in it.
- The Uberchef: This was a Christmas gift from my cousin (a good cook and fabulous jam maker). It has dual blades so you can peel and julienne with the same tool. It’s nice and sharp with a really comfortable (ergonomic) handle. It easily peeled the carrots, but took a little practice to get the julienne working well. When it did, it made nice long strips, similar to the “artsy” one. Cleaning it was pretty simple. Now, had I actually gone to the website and read the instructions, it might have worked (and cleaned) a little easier, but who reads instructions?
- The cheapie: In Saveur there was a blurb about this 20 cent Vietnamese peeler that did everything. Intrigued, I went on eBay and found one for about $4. It peels, slices, juliennes, grates ginger and makes ripple cuts—probably more than that, but it’s all in Chinese or Vietnamese, so who knows? It peeled the carrots easily and julienned them perfectly. This was the only one to make slightly round julienne, which is what I think of when I think of the carrots in a banh mi and it was the easiest to clean.
My verdict: The cheapie. If you come from a culture where there’s a lot of shredding of carrots, you’ll come up with a simple tool to do it with. This one made the nicest shaped julienne and was by far the easiest to use. I like the fact that it was multi-purposed and look forward to trying out all the other features. The runner-up would be the Uberchef, because of its dual purpose, and comfortable handle (and something tells me it would be really good for shaving chocolate or Parmesan). And the artsy set? I’ll probably keep around mostly because I like the packaging.