From vegetables and fruit to deli meat and cheeses, both manual and automatic slicers provide a fast, safe and consistent method to cut, slice and more. Slicers also represent an effective way to portion ingredients, which can help operators manage food costs.
The main function of slicers is to provide portion-controlled slicing. By allowing users to set slice thicknesses, these machines can yield uniform portions. Operators most often use slicers to prepare deli meats and cheeses for sandwiches. These units can also provide uniform slices of vegetables for grilling or garnishing.
Most slicers yield portions ranging from paper-thin to 1¼-inch thick. Larger units can hold food pieces up to 7½ inches in diameter and up to 12 inches long.
Manual, semiautomatic and automatic slicers utilize a rotating blade on a movable carriage in either a gravity-fed angled or spring-loaded upright configuration. While manual versions require unit staff to move the carriage, automatic models use a motor to drive this component. Angled units air-drop food slices directly onto a receiving table, while upright slicers typically use a lever arm to stack products in various patterns.
Manual slicers for front-of-house use are suitable for on-demand slicing or lighter volume. Semiautomatic units use a secondary motor to move the product carriage back and forth. Automatic slicers are typically used for higher-volume operations. End users can adjust automatic slicer activity from 20 to 60 strokes per minute.
Mandolin slicers are basic manual units designed for low-volume slicing. These are often used for specialty cuts, like wavy fries, carrot shavings or grates. Specialty slicer models are available for specific tasks, such as vegetable cutters, which have slower RPMs and utilize sharp blades to help retain the cell structure of the product. This extends shelf life and produces an end product with a higher quality appearance, taste and aroma. End users can choose from a variety of discs to replicate a number of hand-cutting styles.
The bigger the slicer knife, the higher the motor’s torque will be. The most common knife sizes are 12 inches and 13 inches. Smaller operations can make do with 9- or 10-inch cutting blades. Medium-duty slicers typically utilize 12-inch blades, while heavy-duty models have blades between 12 and 14 inches in size.
Although most slicers are constructed of either anodized or burnished aluminum, units are available that combine aluminum with stainless steel. Knife blades are typically constructed of hollow-ground, high-carbon steel, though some units include chrome-plated steel or hardened steel alloys.
Slicers by design utilize minimal energy. Most models can run off 115- to 120-volt electric outlets at 60 hertz and draw from one to seven amps.
Some models have several interlocks that not only help with safety but also conserve energy by shutting off the machine automatically after 30 seconds of inactivity.