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Veggie Chopper

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I have been using this Williams-Sonoma veggie chopper for about a year and a half now and I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to the days before. In talking to folks about them and reading user comments about various models, I find they are a very personal tool. The same tool can be the greatest thing since sliced bread for one person and a dud for someone else. In this blog I will talk about the one I use: The Full Sized Vegetable Chop & Measure by Williams-Sonoma.
 

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The unit is 5 pieces: A clear base (not seen here), two different top pieces (right) with a total of 4 different cutting grids, a cleaning tool (clipped onto the cutting plates in the right picture), & a hinged top piece.

First a quick description of the unit. In the box there are a total of 5 pieces: A clear base unit with rubber feet and one round end and one square end. The round end makes emptying the bottom out a bit easier. This base piece has measurements on the side so you can hold the whole unit vertically and see the amount of chopped veggies that you have. The base can hold 2 1/2 cups (0.66 L) of chopped veggies. There are two top plates that fit into the top of the clear base. Each plate has two different sized metal cutting grids for a total of four different cuts. You can do slices, and dices of 1/6”, 1/4” or 1/2” (0.5, 0.66 or 1.25 cm). The top plates have a finger hole for easy removal from the base and a tab that holds the cleaning tool. The cleaning tool looks a bit like a two-sided comb and is used to help dislodge food from the cutting blades and also from the rows of studs on the top which force the food through the blades. The last piece is the top which is a hinged unit which mounts to two tabs on the square end of the base. The top pivots on the tabs and there are rows of studs on the underside of this top lid which serve to force the food down through the metal cutting blades. The procedure is you cut the veggie down to pieces that fit on the cutting blade. You place those pieces one at a time on the cutting blade and quickly lower the lid onto the piece to chop it. Repeat as many times as necessary to cut up the remaining pieces.

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The studs that help push the food through the cutting grid can be difficult to clean

This unit has many good things going for it and a few downsides. The first item on the plus size is the price.: $26.99. In reading about vegetable choppers price isn’t always a guarantee of good performance. This unit performs well and I feel the price is somewhat justified. You supply the power which is a good and bad thing. Good in that you don’t need to be near an outlet to use it. Bad in that for certain veggies it takes more than a gentle push to get the job done. You often have to smack the top using a closed fist and the heel of your hand. If you have sensitive hands you may want to look elsewhere. My fists have emerged sore from extended sessions with this unit. One of the tricks is not to try to chop too much at a time with this unit. The smaller the size of the dice the smaller the amount of food you should try to chop. For example for onions I cut the onion either in half or in thirds crosswise and then cut these pieces into 1/4, 1/6 or 1/8 wedges. The process can go quite quickly if you make the right sized pieces. It often takes longer to cut the veggie down to a useable sized piece, than the dicing operation itself. Before I scare you though, cutting the food down to usable sized pieces is very quick as well. You also need to make sure not to crowd the food onto the cutting grid. If the food is too close to the edge it will not go through the cutting grid and instead you will have some of the food smooshed down onto the top plate instead of being diced. You will soon develop a feel for the size pieces you should use.
 

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This ratatouille recipe proves the time savings from using the Veggie Chopper. I made this recipe twice. Once where I only used the Veggie Chopper to dice the onions and it took 55 minutes. The second time I used the Veggie Chopper for everything & it took less than 15 minutes. Notice the nice even dice I got by using the chopper.

Another thing that is important is the food placement for certain types of veggies. Soft veggies like bell peppers and tomatoes that have a skin the gives it a hard exterior with a soft interior only work one way. You must place them on the cutting grid skin side up/soft side down. I missed this little factoid and my first attempts at cutting bell peppers and tomatoes were a disaster. The first couple of months I owned this unit, I thought is was going to be a one trick pony for dicing onions. Then I read some of the user comments on the Williams-Sonoma web site and several folks mentioned proper placement. When I placed the food soft side down it worked like a charm. My not using it correctly at first gave me an opportunity to see the time savings gained in using the veggie chopper. I made the same recipe for ratatouille which chopped up a ton of veggies. The first time I made it I used the chopper only for the onions and the operation took about 55 minutes. When I used the chopper for everything, it took just under 15 minutes. A significant savings in time and I also got a uniform sized dice to boot. At that time I didn’t use the slicing blade to slice the zucchini and egg plant. I am guessing I would have saved a little more time doing that. This ratatouille prep was one of the times I ended up with slightly sore hands - yes plural- I used both to spread out the pain across two hands.

While I mostly like the unit it is not perfect. Besides being a little tough on your hands in long chopping sessions, there are several other minuses worth mentioning. The first is that while the disassembled pieces can go in the dishwasher, getting it there is half the fun. You must use the comb-like cleaning tool to clean the trapped food between the studs on the underside of the lid. This food gets really wedged in there and it takes a number of passes to get the lid cleaned. The cutting grids also get clogged with pieces of food and the cleaning tool doesn’t do such a great job with the cutting grid. The tool is more meant to clean the lid. You need to use a combination of the cleaning tool, fast running water and toothpicks to clean it out. Not a deal breaker, but you might elect to skip using this device to chop one small onion due to the clean up. The third item that is a minus is my unit developed a multi-fork crack in the clear base unit just below the hinge studs. I had been using the unit for about 3 months, 2 or 3 times a week at this point. The crack has spread a bit, but the unit is still fully usable after 18 months.

In conclusion, I am very happy with this unit, but it is not perfect. I would not want to be without a chopper of some sort due to the quickness of operation and uniformity of the dice. When it is time to buy another one I will research the market, but I could see myself buying this unit again. I feel a chopper is a good addition to any kitchen, but your mileage may vary on exactly which unit is going to work best for you.

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SOME RELATED LINKS:
Here is a link for the Williams-Sonoma Full-Sized Vegetable Chop & Measure on the Williams-Sonoma web site

  W-S FULL SIZED VEGETABLE CHOPPER & MEASURE Web Link


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