In one of my early articles, I wrote about garlic presses and said I would write again and cover other tools that can be used to “chop” garlic. Well, it appears the time has come, mostly due to continuing questions I get about small alternative chopping devices but also because there are now some truly noteworthy options.
Every one of the models I will talk about have the same “givens” or facts you should know about before purchasing.
1) All food chopped in these devices, save for garlic and small shallots, will need to be cut into smaller chunks before starting; the size of the tool demands it. I could argue that by the time you have peeled or skinned the food and cut it into manageable chunks, you might as well chop it with a knife. However, I understand some people aren’t comfortable with knives.
2) These choppers should be used for smaller amounts of food. If you fill them too full, they struggle to work well. Do NOT attempt to chop ice or other hard objects in these choppers or you will damage the blades.
3) While you can make small amounts of salsa, bruschetta toppings or other sauces, they are not going to replace your big food processor.
4) These chop tools can be very useful, I use them in place of a 3 or 4 cup electric mini-food processor. If it won’t fit in these little guys, I move up to the electric food processor. My big food processor has a mini-bowl allowing for smaller amounts, but even that can be too large and too much effort for a small job.
5) The fewer the twists or pulls you make will result in coarser chunks. Conversely, the longer you twist/pull, the finer the end result.
6) All clean up quickly and easily. It would be best to rinse/wash the chopper as quickly as possible to prevent odors or colors from setting. This can especially be true with green herbs, red onions or garlic.
7) The bowls, storage lids and blades are top shelf dishwasher safe, but take care with the chopping blade. As with any sharp edge, it can become dulled or chipped in the dishwasher. Do NOT put the top part of any chopper in the dishwasher if it contains a pull cord. The cords will rot more rapidly with the repeated exposure to water and detergents and generally will not dry well.
Products That Chop
Kuhn Rikon Twist & Chop
The first product I used, beginning many years ago now, was the Kuhn Rikon Twist & Chop. This was one of the first really solid performers on the market. It operates by the power of twisting your wrists while it is held between your hands. It has two blades and works pretty well. There are few moving parts so they won’t break easily, and based on the limited action and parts, should last longer than the pull cord models.
I have used the Twist and Chop for garlic, peppers, onion, herbs and nuts. Some of the companies say you can chop meats and such, but I would recommend you not use them for that.
The Kuhn Rikon Twist & Chop can struggle with nuts and some herbs unless you put some force into it. Moving it quickly back and forth with the power of your wrists can generate some calorie burning experiences.
The lid, which sits inside the chopping bowl, comes completely apart for easy drying after washing. While it is open, you can then see the gears used to turn the blade inside the bowl.
The bowl has approximately 8 ounces of internal capacity. The cost is around $19.95.
I think in the end what limited its popularity is the twist motion. Unless you have some good wrist and forearm strength, you may find it frustrating.
Which brings me to the newer models from 3 companies including Kuhn Rikon.
Tupperware Chop N Prep
The Tupperware product is great and, like the others I will mention from this point onward, has a rip cord function. This rip or pull cord allows you to generate a lot more power to chop up the contents of the bowl. What would take several minutes of twisting in the older Twist and Chop is done with a few firm pulls on the cord. I was surprised at how finely chopped I could get walnuts or almonds with 8 pulls on the cord.
The Chop N Prep worked well when chopping garlic, herbs, onions, jalapeno peppers, and anything else I put inside. Again, I limited it to small simple amounts. The benefit is that you don’t need to use electricity, lowering your energy usage and meaning you can chop virtually anywhere outside, while camping or even during power outages.
The size of the Tupperware Chop N Prep is roughly the same as the Twist & Chop. It does have a locking lid, which when properly secured into place, will keep the chopper from separating during use. However, you will still want to hold it with your other hand for stability.
This model has 3 blades for chopping and the bowl will hold about a cup, maybe a bit more.
There is a soft lid which can be placed over the bowl to store leftovers for another time or to keep the chopped veggies fresh until they are ready to use.
It has a non-stick piece on the bottom to prevent slipping and comes in at least two colors, red and lime green.
The cost on Amazon is $34.99.
Kuhn Rikon Swiss Pull Chop
Like its older sibling, the Swiss Pull Chop has two blades for chopping and its lid likewise simply rests inside the the rim of the bowl. It sits firmly enough inside the bowl, but use the hand not pulling the cord to hold the lid in place and the device secure. There is a non-skid piece on the bottom to help prevent slipping on the counter.
The performance was better than the older Twist & Chop, but it has only two blades rather than the 3 blade models from Tupperware and Chef’n. The blades are not set in a fixed location like the Tupperware and Chef’n models and Kuhn Rikon feels this allows them to generate even more energy during chopping. The performance and end results are similar to the other pull styles.
It has a larger capacity than its older sibling the Twist & Chop and the Tupperware Chop N Prep. The pull cord rests against the side of the top lip just like the Tupperware model.
The cost is around $24.00. So from that perspective it is cheaper than the Tupperware and while more expensive than the older Kuhn Rikon model, it gives you bigger capacity, better performance and is easier to use.
The Chef’n version of the pull chopper has the largest capacity of the bunch without sacrificing any of the capability. The bowl will hold more than a cup and a half. It has 3 blades, a pull ring that stores over the top lid section when not in use and has a locking lid similar to the Tupperware, for secure safe use. Also like the Tupperware, it has a soft lid for storage of unused portions in the fridge. Like the other pull cord models, it comes with a non-skid bottom.
As for performance, it performed as well as the other pull cord models. I found all of the pull cord styles did a great job of chopping things because the designs and power generated are so similar.
The Chef’n VeggiChop is the least expensive of the group coming in at $19.99 and also comes in a red and green color scheme.
In the end, any of the pull cord styles will be more than capable of chopping, mixing or blending any number of foods. The aforementioned nuts, veggies, garlic, salsas, even dips and egg salads. They use no electricity or batteries and are easy to store in a cabinet or pantry.
I was skeptical, as always, that these tools were nothing but redundant, unnecessary devices but I do find that I use them for those small mincing jobs that can be a bit messy with a knife, like chopping nuts or infusing herbs into dressings. And again, if you want to make just a small amount of something, then these choppers are better than attempting to use your food processor. I still use a Chef’s knife for most of my chopping, but these choppers have found a place in my kitchen.
If I had to choose one, it would be the Chef’n VeggiChop. I base this on the overall value. It is the least expensive of the bunch, with the largest capacity and no less feature function or performance than any other.