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Cason Hicks

Cabbage Slicer

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I have a potential commission for someone who has a family tradition of making homemade sauerkraut. He is interested in a custom knife to keep in the family and pass down, but he really doesn't know anything about knives. He's told me that he will usually just grab the closest knife to him to half/core/shred the heads. Personally, I've never shredded my own cabbage, so I'm looking for some advice on design and shape from those who have. 


He did say that these are large heads, roughly 8 pounds each, and that most of the time the knife isn't large enough to cut through in a single slice. That makes me think he's needing something around 8-9" (but I don't know the diameter of an 8 lb cabbage). 

Also, he stated he's used something similar to a bread knife (in shape) but without serrated teeth for coring. He liked this, stating it was lighter and longer. 

 

I figure I'll be using something like 1/8" or 5/32" stock on this, so would a hollow grind be best? 

Any suggestions?

Edited by Cason Hicks

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My mother gifted me a slaw cutter years ago.  It works like a large upside down wood plane - https://www.google.com/search?q=slaw+cutter&sxsrf=ACYBGNSOleNr3jScO6opP_J8sts9XCQ9Mg:1572621788561&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwie2srYqMnlAhXiUt8KHS8SCM0Q_AUIEygC&biw=1920&bih=937#imgrc=oFBHrgdVbv2PVM:   While not a hand held knife, it is an efficient way to cut the cabbage for either slaw or sauerkraut.

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While traditional kraut cutters are indeed usually a big board with three or four blades kind of like a giant mandoline (the kitchen appliance kind, not the musical kind), any long knife will do fine.  My wife uses an 8" chef's pattern, my mother uses a 10" carver.  

 

1/8" is on the thick side, even if hollow-ground. Based on what the guy says he likes to use, I'd use 3/32" and a full flat grind on a 12" carving knife pattern, but that's just me.  A long-ish nakiri or even a deba would work fine as well.  Basically you just want enough length to split the head and enough stiffness in a not-that-wide blade to core it. That said, I don't even use a knife to core cabbage, just grab the whole head and slam it down hard on the stem. The core can then be pulled right out.  But if the customer likes to core with a knife, make him a knife he can core with.  

 

Disclaimer: while I've made lots of slaw, it was at my father's grocery store where the procedure was: remove outer leaves, core by slamming the head on the table, cut in quarters with a 12" butcher knife, and throw it in the Hobart shredding machine. :lol: 

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1 hour ago, Alan Longmire said:

That said, I don't even use a knife to core cabbage, just grab the whole head and slam it down hard on the stem. The core can then be pulled right out.  But if the customer likes to core with a knife, make him a knife he can core with.  

 

When I worked at Jack In The Box maaaany years ago, we did the same thing with lettuce. I still do it today when I buy iceburg lettuce. It's supposed to last longer if cored.

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@Gazz Yes you're right. And this guy has a newer slicer, but he cores and halves the heads before putting them on there. So he's looking for that halver/corer. My apologies if the initial post was for a shredding knife!

@Alan Longmire Yes he mentioned using "a long bread knife-like blade, but without the serrations" and I assume that's a carver he's been using. And he likes it, but need a little more length for the 10" diameter cabbage heads. So you're spot on with saying a 12" pattern. Are you saying you'd create a separate knife for coring?


@Ron Benson My ex used to core and store the iceberg heads, and I never really knew why... just figured thats what her mother did haha

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Well, I was trying to figure out his process and what would do both things well.  A wide blade like a chef or a butcher is great for halving, but a narrow blade is better for coring since you have to twist it through.  I guess a 12" bladed carver/slicer about 3/4" wide could do it fine.

 

I once did a field visit to one of my crews (archaeology for a bridge replacement) and took along a sword to show them since most of them had not seen my work in person.  I got hijacked into doing a newspaper interview that took half an hour right at lunchtime, and when I finally got rid of the reporter and photographer I went down to find the crew had been given a large watermelon by the farmer whose land we were on.  It had been cut and sliced perfectly, and I, surprised they could do such a clean job of it with just pocketknives, asked if the farmer had given them a knife or if one of them had a machete in the truck.  Turns out a 34" bladed longsword can do some excellent veggie slicing.  :rolleyes:

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Thanks for that expert advice, Alan (as always). You guys are the best. I had an idea of what it should be, but had no relevant experience with that sort of task. 

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