Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

So I went to Subway™ and saw that their carrots are cut into thin strips. I can never do this with any knives. So what is the best way to cut carrots into thin strips (like french fries)?

share|improve this question
1  
Are you asking for a way to do this with a knife, or for a more specialized tool like a mandoline? –  Jefromi Jan 10 '11 at 23:20

5 Answers 5

The style of cut is called julienne. True, a mandoline can make a julienne cut, as well as thin slices. However, you can also use a knife to achieve a julienne cut.

First, cut the carrot into manageable lengths--2 or 3 inches. Cut a piece into 1/8 inch slices lengthwise. Stack several slices on top of one another and cut lengthwise through all layers to make "matchsticks" or julienne-cut carrots. It works best to have a large slice on the bottom of your stack, not a small one or the round side of the carrot. A large slice on the bottom is more stable, so you're not as likely to julienne your fingers. Yes, cutting carrots this way is a lot of trouble, but this is the way to do it with a knife.

There are also other ways to get a similar result without a mandoline. If you have a food processor, try the large grating disk. You can also use a salad shooter or other slicer/shredder--there's even an attachment for the ubiquitous Kitchen Aid mixer. Even a plain old box grater can be used to grate carrots. Grated carrots may not be as neat and tidy as the ones done commercially, but they're still a good addition to a salad.

Oh, if all else fails, you can usually buy the shredded carrots in the produce section, near the bagged salads.

share|improve this answer
6  
And to do this, you need sharp knives -- a dull knife won't bite into the carrot as well, which means an increased chance of the blade slipping and cutting you. (and for gratings vs. slicing -- it has its place, but it breaks the cell walls, resulting in much more water loss) –  Joe Jan 11 '11 at 13:29
    
Plus one for grating. It's not exactly the same as a true julienne, and it's harder on the vegetable, but it's a quick and easy approximation using a cheap and readily available tool. –  bikeboy389 Jan 11 '11 at 23:22

If you're talking about fast food, you can rest assured that their carrots arrive that way from the distributor, who is probably using industrial machinery to do the cutting.

If you want to achieve this at home with minimal effort then your best bet is a piece of equipment called a mandoline. Normally it has a top piece that you use to pierce the vegetable or fruit (AKA a guard), and you just slide it along the surface as it gets sliced by the slightly-raised blade, which you can usually adjust to get your desired thickness. It looks like this:

Mandoline

Most of them have julienne blades but make sure you check before purchasing one.


Safety note: As contributor Chef has pointed out, you can give yourself an extremely nasty cut on one of these if you get careless (and who among us doesn't have those days occasionally?), so do yourself a favour and buy a pair of safety gloves if you don't already have them.

Gloves are not expensive - the most expensive pair on Amazon costs under $25 - so just go and get yourself a pair, even if you have a really high-end mandoline. It's better to have a good pair and never use them than it is to slice half a finger off because you couldn't spare the time or expense to get some. Trust me, I'm speaking from experience here.

share|improve this answer
    
I have friends who worked at Subway in high school ... I don't know about their carrots, but in the case on onion and lettuce, those arived in the stores whole, and they had various devices to quickly dispatch them. –  Joe Jan 11 '11 at 13:31
    
That's interesting, @Joe. I guess there may be some places that do their own chopping/slicing, perhaps to keep them fresher. I do know that most food service distributors sell them pre-cut, as in this page but in larger quantities. –  Aaronut Jan 11 '11 at 14:32
    
I've never used it for carrots, but amazon.com/gp/product/B000KKNQZ6 is good for slicing stuff thinly in general. The safety note above still applies :) –  offby1 Nov 2 '11 at 19:20
    
Just want to show support for the safety note. I made the mistake of trying to catch a falling antique mandolin slicer when I was a kid. I nearly lost 3 fingers. Like all kitchen equipment, show it respect. –  Matthew Sep 4 '13 at 16:32

There is a relatively cheap kitchen utensil for julienne cuts. It's basically a vegetable peeler with teeth. I use it to julienne carrots and other vegetables a lot when I'm making all sorts of dishes.

It takes a bit of getting used to, but is a good compromise for the amateur.

Julienne peeler

share|improve this answer

Subway uses specialized electric appliances to do such cuts. The closest thing at home is the food processor, but that doesn't cut that thin. In resraurants, we get things thin by using a mandoline, as others have pointed out. What they haven't pointed out is how dangerous thy are. Thy are probably the single largest contributor to cuts- nasty ones too. It is VERY easy to slip, or have the product slip ( soft/old carrot?) and cut your fingertip. Cooks really should use a guard- they never do. I wouldn't recommend using a mandolin for most home cooks- you will cut yourself eventually- and badly. If you DO use one, make sure you use a decent guard. The plastic piece of junk that comes with the benriner mandolin isn't very good. Another alternative use a peeler, not as nice, but it can work.

share|improve this answer
1  
If one is concerned about kitchen safety (and I agree that one should be), then what's even better than a guard is a pair of cut-resistant kitchen gloves, or even utility gloves. It's not like you need much dexterity for mandoline slicing, and good gloves are useful to have around anyway (e.g. for chopping garlic, hot peppers and so on). –  Aaronut Jan 12 '11 at 20:01
    
Like using woodworking equipment, being distracted is the main danger with mandolines. Cut before cooking so you're not tempted to rush and also rinse immediately to make cleaning easier and safer if handwashing. –  jontyc Jan 19 '12 at 21:36

When in a hurry and not feeling up to julianning carrots, I often have success using a vegetable peeler to peel off thin strips of carrot. It'll look a bit different, but it makes even, thin strips.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.