Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cheap Stuff that Works Vol.3--Kyocera Ceramic Peeler

I had reservations about including this awesome new gizmo (I got one for Christmas) in my "Cheap Stuff" series, because with its nearly eighteen-dollar price tag it's really not cheap at all.

But it works. Holy smokes, does this thing work.

It's as if, before you picked it up, you had never actually used a peeler. Never even heard of one. It's like all the other so-called peelers you've been using were constructed out of old Diet Coke cans or rusty license plates.

I've been reading and wondering about ceramic blades for a long time, but I've never tried one. Basically, they're made out of a special type of ceramic which is like the hardest surface known to man, second only to diamonds. The upside of this is that they become and remain really sharp. The downside is that they're nearly impossible to sharpen yourself (you have to send them in to the company to sharpen), and they can shatter if dropped or used for more challenging tasks like cutting through bones or smashing garlic cloves.

Due to the negatives, the fact that I love my carbon steel Sabatiers, and the fairly prohibitive price tag on some of the more decent brands of ceramic knives, I'd never gotten one. But someone laid this sweet little Kyocera ceramic peeler on me for Christmas (thanks, Mom--sorry about how I ripped into the mango splitter you gave me a few Christmases ago!) and it's really a perfect way to kind of try out the whole ceramic blade thing without having to spend eighty or a hundred bucks on a new knife (which I don't even need--I have too many knives already).

(Wow! Just now while I was googling 'Kyocera' so I could provide the link above, I discovered that they make a ceramic-bladed mandoline that looks to be almost as affordable as the trusty old Benriner. I so don't need to buy that. But I want it. And it's available in my choice of four high-fashion colors....and I have a responsibility to the readers of this blog. Must. Stay. Strong. Must. Not. Shop. Online....)

Anyway, it's probably pretty clear by now that I love this new handy-dandy peeler. The blade is freakishly sharp. It glides effortlessly across the surface of normal stuff like carrots, parsnips, and potatoes, but it also does a pretty damn good job peeling thick, tough stuff like butternut squash that you'd normally resort to using a knife on. And due to the fact that the blade is so mind-blowingly sharp, it really shines when peeling delicate stuff like tomatoes, ripe pears, and grapes.

Ok, that was just a test to see if you're paying attention. I didn't use my new best friend the cool red peeler to peel a grape. But this thing could probably do it if you really decided you wanted to. In fact, if I had any grapes in my fridge, I'd go peel one right now, just to say I did. But I don't.

The coolest thing about this peeler, though, is that the blade rotates 180 degrees. So righties and lefties can use it the normal, vertically-oriented way, and you can also rotate it only 90 degrees and use it like a Y-peeler. It slices! It peels grapes! It can remove unsightly body hair! It's three, three, three peelers in one!

(As a ridiculously off-topic aside, has anyone besides me laughed their ass off at those Sham-Wow commercials that have been airing recently? The guy who does those commercials has this hilarious, strangely dark, self-parodic way of delivering the classic Ron Popeil-style, in-your-face, as-seen-on-tv ad schtick. Seriously, mark this guy down. He's one to watch.)

Oh, one caveat. This peeler has a single-sided blade, meaning that it can only cut in one direction. Most peelers, since they lack the rotating head, have a double-sided blade allowing for either right-handed or left-handed use. An added benefit of the double-sided blade is that you can peel in both directions--ie, on the downstroke and then back on the upstroke. I don't peel this way, but for those of you who this is important, this may not be the peeler for you.

Anyway, since it really is like three tools in one, due to the rotating head, and since good quality peelers already go for eleven or twelve bucks these days, I'm urging everyone to ditch the habit of buying that ubiquitous metal piece-o'-crap that you buy in the grocery store that gets dull so fast that you probably have three of them rattling around your utensil drawer. Just stop.

Cheap tools end up costing more in money and headaches over the long run. Spend the extra eight or ten bucks, emerge from the Stone Age, and step into the high-tech, 21st century world of vegetable preparation.


Tricia Grissom said...

I repent my current peelers. Especially that one with the fake potato handle.

Hubby had a ceramic knife. But we have these things called children. Now he has half a ceramic knife. And no, generally we don't let the children play with knives, but youngest wants to be a chef and claims he knows nothing about how it was broken. Sigh.

Maybe I'll buy the peeler when he moves out in five years. :)

Oh and thanks for following the Coffee and Critique Blog. Right back at ya.

Anonymous said...

Ceramic peelers work great. They stay sharp for a long time. I can't count how many knuckles I've shaved using a dull metal peeler.

thomas said...

dude i have the mandolin and it works every bit as well as you say the peeler does

it is slightly small for some jobs but definitely worth the 25 bucks definitely