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The new onion dicers


KitchenQueen
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Nicer dicer, Alligator, whatever. I know you've all seen the commercials. But how great it would be if they work.

I have a few friends who are wanting one and I'm thinking Christmas gifts, as well as wanting one myself.

And a special friend who would only get the best one I could purchase,cost be damned.

Do they work?

What's the best one? No garbage that will probably break.

Some show dicing ripe tomatoes. Yeah, right.

Good, or another piece of useless crap to store?

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Seeing as I'm the first to respond, I apologize if this suggestion might not be exactly the reply you hoped for -- but I can't help thinking of the the proverb about giving a man a fish, vs. teaching him how to fish...

Why not teach them how to cut an onion? It really is a truly satisfying skill. Cleaning up a chef's knife is a lot easier and faster than a gadget. And once you've learned how to dice an onion, you can cut a lot of other stuff up too, that a dedicated onion-gadged won't do.

And yeah, itt takes about 30 seconds to learn how to properly use a steel on your knife, to keep it sharp enough to easily cut through the skin of a tomato.

As I said, sorry if this sounds negative -- I'm sure there might be some good gear out there that can do this very well...

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Good, or another piece of useless crap to store?

Do you remember the vegematic? This is the same thing reincarnated. Has some use but who really needs it. I vote useless crap that will get used a few times and take up space in the cabinet then sold at a garage sale, given away or take up space in a land fill. Did you see the boulder size dice on the commercial? I don't want my salsa looking like that. :sad:

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I have the Alligator, both the large and the small. I use the small one to chop garlic cloves into small bits and then I put them into the mortar/pestle in lieu of the garlic mincer. The flavour is much better - sweeter and without bitterness.

I use the larger one for onions - I slice the onions and then whack them in the Alligator to produce perfect diced onions in the wink of an eye!

Another gadget? Perhaps, but I find the convenience of having diced onions all the same size in seconds quite worthwhile. And as for the garlic, I have simply never mastered the skill of mashing it with using a chef's knife so used a garlic mincer which was a sacrifice on flavor.

Cheers,

Karole

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I bought one because the arthritis in my right hand has gotten so bad that I have difficulty doing repetitive knife work.

Not everyone is capable of learning knife skills that will allow them to chop onions (or anything else) rapidly. This is a handy (and safe) gadget for those that have disabilities or who are not well coordinated. They work and do the job quickly and neatly. I think they are worth the money.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I bought one because the arthritis in my right hand has gotten so bad that I have difficulty doing repetitive knife work.

Not everyone is capable of learning knife skills that will allow them to chop onions (or anything else) rapidly.  This is a handy (and safe) gadget for those that have disabilities or who are not well coordinated.  They work and do the job quickly and neatly.  I think they are worth the money.

I have to agree with you, Andy, that not everyone can master knife skills. I have tried to teach my daughter how to dice an onion using a knife but she seems capable of dicing anything BUT the onion! I would really like her to keep her fingers so I will look at getting her one of these.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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When it comes to stuff like this, one person's godsend is another person's useless space-wasting gadget. I happen to find chopping onions very satisfying, but I don't think all of my friends would. As long as this thing is well made, I think it definitely has a place.

We've had other gadget threads that have been very informational. Some people think a battery-powered pepper grinder is ridiculous, but with my arthritis it makes a huge difference for me. I'm still able to use a knife, but at such time as I'm not, I'll get one of these onion-chopping things, and no doubt will love it. There was a day when I hauled my food processor out for everything; at this time, my knife skills have increased to the point where I no longer need to do that. That may change one of these days.

Another, somewhat more expensive Christmas gift, would be Oxo's mandoline. Wonderful, wonderful gadget for those times when you need uniform slices.

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Who has the best deal on this type of product?

I've been looking at veggie dicers in chef's catalogs/stores for years hoping that I could find an inexpensive one. They always seem to be in the $100+ range.

That's too much money for something that may/may not make my life easier.

It's takes me a pretty solid half hour to dice 6 lb of onions. Anything I can do to shorten that time/reduce the effort would be fantastic.

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Who has the best deal on this type of product?

I've been looking at veggie dicers in chef's catalogs/stores for years hoping that I could find an inexpensive one.  They always seem to be in the $100+ range.

That's too much money for something that may/may not make my life easier.

It's takes me a pretty solid half hour to dice 6 lb of onions.  Anything I can do to shorten that time/reduce the effort would be fantastic.

Here's a link to the Alligator brand which is the one mentioned early in this thread - it's about $30 USF.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Mixed reviews of this gizmo on Amazon. I had never heard of this thing so I googled it.

Nice to know that it "Makes up to 220 Cubicals at once!" Now when I see a recipe calling for cubicals, I'll know what to do.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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I bought both the "Chop Wizard" from this vendor

here because it came with two different sized cutters, and also bought the mini slicer, which I have used only for slicing those little balls of mozzarella which always give me fits when trying to slice evenly. I bought the can opener too.....

and the "Alligator" which works in a similar way, but sort of backwards to the other one.

I bought the latter because one place had a "deal" that included a smaller one listed as a "garlic chopper" or dicer, or whatever.

various onion dicers

I have absolutely no shame........I like gadgets.

I found my invoice - I ordered the Alligator chopper from the UK

from Pro-Idee

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I bought both the "Chop Wizard" from this vendor

here because it came with two different sized cutters, and also bought the mini slicer, which I have used only for slicing those little balls of mozzarella which always give me fits when trying to slice evenly.    I bought the can opener too.....

and the "Alligator" which works in a similar way, but sort of backwards to the other one.

I bought the latter because one place had a "deal" that included a smaller one listed as a "garlic chopper" or dicer, or whatever.

various onion dicers

I have absolutely no shame........I like gadgets.

I found my invoice - I ordered the Alligator chopper from the UK

from Pro-Idee

I went through three Alligators, purchased through Williams Sonoma (we had a gift card) before finally giving up. Every one of them eventually succumbed to an onion that was a bit too tough -- despite my attempts to remove any layers on the outside of the onion that looked like they would cause trouble. WS was very good about replacing the item when it broke, but enough was enough. Eventually the blade grid got mushed out of shape and wouldn't work anymore.

However, getting perfectly diced onions for certain applications, like risotto for example, it really nice, and I could definitely tell the difference in those recipes.

So eventually, armed with yet another gift card, I tried the Chop Wizard from Crate & Barrel. Only Crate & Barrel's version doesn't show the brand name (apparently, it's actually made by Progressive Technologies), and it only comes with the dice blade, not the larger chopping blade. The Chop Wizard is definitely better made and stronger than the Alligator, and we've had much better luck. Only had to have the item replaced once, so far. (Again, excellent customer service.)

Thanks to andiesenji's post, now I know where I can get spare blades. I think the larger blade is probably less useful than the smaller dicing blade, but would be great when you have large quantities to chop.

This gadget isn't only for onions. It makes beautiful strips of radishes for salads, is great for dicing mango for exotic salsa...and while you're at it put everything -- the mangoes, the onion, the peppers, through the chopper and your salsa will look perfectly gorgeous, and take a tiny fraction of the time you'd spend otherwise. And it's really nice to have all that mess contained inside the hopper.

Thanks for the tip on the mini-slicer -- perfect for mushrooms and mozzerella!

Another related gadget for garlic that has also repeatedly broken -- and broken my heart -- is the Garlic Genius. We've been through two of the regular plastic versions available in many kitchen stores, and three of the slightly better ones available from WS. In this tool, it's the plastic holding the metal grid that always breaks.

But damn if it doesn't make absolutely the most perfect little tiny cubes of garlic, which hold their shape and flavor beautifully in your homemade tomato sauce.

What I wouldn't give to have sturdy, unbreakable metal versions of both these tools. I usually chop onions by hand with a knife, but sometimes you just want a better result than you can get. Or you need to save time. And I doubt there are many non-professionals that could produce the perfect tiny cubes of garlic that the Garlic Genius makes.

Bottom line: I love these tools, even though they keep breaking on me. Can't live wihtout them.

If anyone knows of stronger versions that perform better, please do tell!

Thanks.

- L.

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One more vote for "unless piece of plastic crap."

Consider this: It can't chop an onion unless you:

1. Get a knife and cut the ends off the onion;

2. Peel the onion;

3. Find the UPOPC;

4. Put the onion in the UPOPC;

5. Give the UPOPC a hard whack like in the TV ads (it's obviously not easy), and hope that you don't break either the cheap plastic frame or the cheap metal blades.

Then you have to:

1. Wash the knife;

2. Wash the UPOC (or throw it in the trash if it's broken).

Since you have to use a knife to cut the ends off the onion and then peel it, it seems to me that 8 or 10 more strokes of the knife is:

1. Faster;

2. Simpler;

3. Results in less cleanup;

4. Allows you more control over the results (i.e., size and shape of the onion pieces -- sometimes I want thin slices that produce long strands of onion, sometimes I want big chunks for stews and soups, sometimes I want tiny little pieces, and sometimes I want medium cubes of onion -- the Whack-O-Matic UPOPC gives you one choice, and that don't cut it, so to speak.

Buy your friends a good chef's knife, and they'll still be thanking you in 40 years. I know because I have a set of Wusthof knives that I've used everyday since 1968, and they're like new. I think about the friend who gave me one of them every time I use it. I doubt that would be the case if he had opted for the UPOPC.

Douglas Collins

Hermosa Beach, California

Un dîner sans vin est comme un jour sans soleil.

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I have a large collection of excellent knives, including one that was custom made for me. There was a time that I could cut anything into perfect dice of whatever size required.

This is no longer true.

I can't hold on to the handle of any knife with a firm grip because I have arthritis at the base of my thumb.

There is no knife in the world that can work when one has no grip strength. "A good chef's knife" is not the answer for people who are handicapped or for children.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Thanks for the replies. I frequently cook a lot for the freezer or pot lucks, and the ability to dice pounds of onions at a pop is worth it. If it could actually dice ripe tomatoes, a big plus !

Worknights when I get home ,5 minutes saving in dinner prep is valuable to me,silly as it sounds .

I can use a good knife, and I own them.

But I likes me gadgets, and if it works, and it's something I'll use a lot, I'll buy it.

My friend ,who is the reason for my original post, is a pro in the kitchen who grew up in the restaurant business, and owns the BEST knives.

I sent him an email listing blanks 1 through 5, and asked him to fill them in with things he'd like and use for Christmas, otherwise he gets crap he won't use.

Arthritis was mentioned in previous posts. . I'm betting that's the reason this was requested from this friend who's in his late 60's,early 70's.. I sure as hell won't be crude enough to ask.

And at 10 years younger, I'm starting to get it in my thumbs too. It hurts. A lot..

No strength. Damn 15 quart Le Crueset pots!!

If you have it, you understand.

Now that's said.

What's the VERY best one made? And I'm sure he'd never put the blades in a dishwasher..

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My new Chef's Catalog arrived today. Checking at the web site, I find that they carry the smaller (shallot/garlic) version of the Alligator chopper.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Guess I'm the merchant's dream customer...

I buy one of just about everything, call me Curious Bob. Saw the onion dicer while in my Williams-Sonoma and, having too much time on my hands (or too much available credit on my Visa card), bought it.

So now I continue to dice onion as I always have, with a knife; forgetting the thing is in the drawer.

Bob Sherwood

____________

“When the wolf is at the door, one should invite him in and have him for dinner.”

- M.F.K. Fisher

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Thanks for all the great leads.

I actually came across a dicer in Target that looked pretty good.

One more question. I've been noticing that the dimensions of the cutting area are generally not that large. I've been consistently getting 4+" diameter onions for the last year or so. Doe anyone have a dicer than can handle an onion of that size? The thought of having to quarter the onions to fit them in the machine doesn't excite me.

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I had one from Williams Sonoma and it did not work. That was when I was still learning. Now, I just dice up my onion real fine with a good knife. Sure it is difficult when the onions are strong, but light a scented candle and let it get going before you cut the onion. ( it has to be in close proximity to the onion and where you are cutting.) That helps just as well. I personally like going through the motions of cutting and dicing onions or any veg. It is relaxing.

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I have had an Alligator for going on two years and it works spectacularly. I have heard that the 'as seen on TV' ones don't have very good cutting blades. I would recommend to stick with the Alligator.

There are some tricks to it though.

You need to buy smaller onions (onions get pretty big here in Texas) about the size of a baseball (hardball).

You have to totally commit to the downward cut, forceful and cup your hand over the top to keep the onions dice from flying around.

Edited by Jay Francis (log)
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I have had an Alligator for going on two years and it works spectacularly.  I have heard that the 'as seen on TV' ones don't have very good cutting blades.  I would recommend to stick with the Alligator.

There are some tricks to it though.

You need to buy smaller onions (onions get pretty big here in Texas) about the size of a baseball (hardball).

You have to totally commit to the downward cut, forceful and cup your hand over the top to keep the onions dice from flying around.

The newer ones have clear plastic cups that fit over the top of the area where the diced onion will end up.

available from ChefsCatalog.com

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Don't you have to pre-slice the onions horizontaly? If not, won't you end up with matchstick (depending on the size of the squares) slices of onion?

Thanks,

Kevin

DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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You need to buy smaller onions (onions get pretty big here in Texas) about the size of a baseball (hardball).

Hmmmmm... smaller onions translate into longer prep time/the more onions you have to peel. Also more waste.

If I have a recipe calling for 3# onions, I can peel 4 huge onions a lot faster than, say, 9 small ones.

Does no one make a dicer that will accommodate a very large onion?

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Don't you have to pre-slice the onions horizontaly?  If not, won't you end up with matchstick (depending on the size of the squares) slices of onion?

Thanks,

Kevin

I'm so glad you asked this question; I've been wondering the same thing. I bumped this up to emphasize the question. OK, gadgeteers: how does pushing down on a grid produce dice instead of matchsticks?

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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