Thursday, August 26, 2004

Ceramic Peeler:Equipment

I am not a geek, but I am always curious about new kitchen gadgets and technologies. So just a few months ago at the Gourmet Products Show when I saw that several companies were selling ceramic knives, I was eager to give them a try. They are made out of futuristic sounding "zirconium oxide". The manufacturing process also sounds like something out of a science fiction novel; ceramic material is ground into a micro-fine powder, made into slurry and poured into a machine where it is subjected to 100 tons of pressure and molded into blades. I tried one out that was made by Kyocera and was surprised at how light and sharp it was. But talking to chefs and foodies I didn't find a lot of support for these new knives. I heard complaints that they can only be sharpened by the manufacturer, that they are too fragile and can chip or break, and that they don't hold their sharpness as long as promised.

This week I got a chance to try out Kyocera's new wide ceramic peeler and I have to say, I'm really impressed. First of all it has a great comfortable handle, it is angled to make peeling easier and it is sharp as can be. Best of all, unlike other peelers, there is no chance it will rust. I tried this peeler out on raw butternut squash and beets and it came through with flying colors. Speaking of which, the white ceramic did not get stained when I peeled the beets!

Being able to peel hard winter squashes and root vegetables is really useful. I made soups out of each in the pressure cooker in minutes flat. While I'm not sure I would use this for peeling carrots, there is no question it is much safer and easier to handle than any other peeler I've ever used on hard-to-peel and larger fruits and vegetables. Kyocera also recommends using it on tropical fruit, cheese and chocolate.

If you're not ready to invest in a ceramic knife yet, but want to try out the technology, at just under $20 this is an affordable piece of hardware you may really enjoy using. Williams-Sonoma will probably carry the peeler and Soko Hardware (1698 Post street in Japantown) carries both the peeler and some knives. You can visit Kyocera's web site to find out where to purchase near you.

Some places to find this new wide peeler:

Kitchen Kaboodle East Coast Kitchenware chain
Knife Merchant Catalog and website or 1-800-714-8226
County Restaurant Supply-San Carlos, CA (probably the closest to the Bay Area) 650-591-0701