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These seem popular in many modern knife sets, and I have seen them used (somewhat clumsily) in Europe.

I have briefly tried some before, but couldn't see the benefit of it. But then again no one seemed to know how to use it correctly

Does anyone actually use these to good effect? If so, what is actually gained over a normal knife?

Which type (single or double blade) and size does this apply to?

Examples:

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@ElendilTheTall You changed the point of my question? –  TFD Mar 1 '12 at 9:00
    
Sorry, the question was unclear - the original title was simply 'Mezzaluna Knife' - but user editing is what this site's all about: you seem to have rectified things admirably. –  ElendilTheTall Mar 1 '12 at 10:02
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Yeah - at least if you have both hands on the handles you can't shear through your fingers :) –  ElendilTheTall Mar 1 '12 at 10:15
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Hmmm, personally I find "Is it worth it..." change to the title not that great. It sounds subjective and doesn't really reflect the essence of the question. From what I can see, you are trying to find out what they are used for and how to optimally use them. So perhaps this would be a better title: "What is the purpose of a Mezzaluna knife and how does one use it optimally?" I'll go ahead and suggest the change but I guess it's up to you(or a Mod) to decide if it's a better title. –  Jay Mar 1 '12 at 14:12
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@Chad, i think the body of the question is fine(especially after the edit). I think initially it was worded a little confusingly but I understand what is being asked now. Nevertheless the title isn't so great right now. Perhaps: "What is the benefit of using a Mezzaluna Knife over a traditional knife?" –  Jay Mar 1 '12 at 19:42

8 Answers 8

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Advantages

  • no hand needed to hold the food, therefore safer for children or those lacking knife skills
  • quicker for those lacking knife skills
  • no need for gloves when cutting foods that can irritate the skin, like chillies.

Disadvantages

  • Awkward and dangerous to wash in between the blades for the double-blade version.
  • Difficult to store safely
  • A unitasker really only suited for chopping herbs and spices. The most common items chopped in many cuisines, onion and garlic, would require rough chopping first with a traditional knife, making it hardly worth it.
  • Inhibits the development of valuable knife skills.
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Thanks. The point about chillies is interesting. Like the "Inhibits the development of valuable knife skills." :-) –  TFD Mar 1 '12 at 22:52
    
In the Netherlands, this type of knife is used to cut through cheese in shops. –  BaffledCook Feb 23 '13 at 8:22

I use it to cut my home made after dinner mint chocolate slab into bite size squares. It sits better in hot water and gives a nice, sharp clean cut to the chocolate...mmmm...yum

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It's the best tool to chop rosemary. I also use it to cut pizza as it works so much better than the stainless steel wheel on most pizza cutters. You get better leverage with the two handles

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If u make a lot of chimichuri .and want to do it right,this is the proper tool. parsley needs to be chopped very fine and inlarge amounts so in order to do without your arm falling off a mezzaluna is needed.

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I hardly think you need a special knife just to chop a lot of parsley. I can do that with my chef's knife. –  Aaronut Feb 23 '13 at 17:11
    
@Aaronut : You can, but it's actually the dished bowl that's more important than the knife, as it helps to keep things in one place. It's also useful when mixing lots of different things together (the garlic & herbs at the same time, vs. individually and mixing together afterwards). Of course, for small batches, it's faster for me to do it with a normal knife than remembering where I stashed the mezzluna that I don't use very often. –  Joe Feb 24 '13 at 15:16
    
@Joe: I take it by "dished bowl" that you're talking about the special recessed cutting boards that are sometimes sold with the knife as part of a set? Those are certainly useful. I'd still say it's a little ridiculous to say that you "need" it in order to chop herbs "without your arm falling off" - and parsley is actually one of the easiest herbs to mince with a regular knife. –  Aaronut Feb 24 '13 at 19:47

I bought my first mezzaluna because I have advanced arthritis and can no longer use a chef's knife properly. It's an absolute lifesaver being able to push down with the strength of both hands instead of relying on a weakened arm with a wrist that doesn't bend attached to a clawed hand that cannot grip a knife the right way.

My "go-to" knife is a fairly large mezzaluna (for me at least, it's an 8" single blade and my hands are child-small) and I do use it to chop everything from meats to vegetables. About the only things I can't do with it are fillet fish and break down chicken. I also have a smaller double-blade for herbs and garlic.

Obviously, many of the tasks I use it for are better suited to a chef's knife but as that is not an option anymore, my mezzaluna is incredibly versatile and without it I don't think I could accomplish much in the kitchen. I recommend mezzalunas to anyone who finds a chef's knife painful or can no longer grip one properly. There's a bit of a learning curve but you get used to it quickly.

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I almost gave my mezzaluna knife away... but decided to give it a try and now I LOVE - LOVE - LOVE this knife!!! I have a single handle, single blade mezzaluna with a square chopping board that is rounded out (bowled)to fit the knife. I chop everything from garlic and herbs to fruit and veggies. The board and knife keep everything from falling or flying all over.
When mixing several different fruits,veggies and/or herbs into a single dish (usually 2-6 servings), you can chop most or all of them at once! Cut a small amount of your ingredients, move over or to one of the corners, get more or your next item, chop and slide it over, and so on. When board is nearly full or you have all your ingredients cut, put board over your pan, scrape all ingredients in (if more are needed, repeat)... then your ready to start cooking!!! SIMPLE and FAST!!! Not only does this save a ton of time and clean-up, I almost always choose this over my food processor or nut chopper because I love the 'organic' feel to chopping up all that stuff by hand!
Granted, this is more "utilitarian"; chopping quickly and easily. For cutting more precise or 'pretty' pieces of fruit or veggies, I'd choose a different knife. But once you get the hang of the rocking motion, and find just how much time you will save, I think you will really like using it!
*just make sure to also get the "bowl" type cutting board and as good a quality knife as you can afford.

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I have one, a single-bladed and I use it to cut pizza. It's 22 cm (8.5") from the middle of the one handle to the middle of the second handle in a straight line, and 27 cm (10.5") if you follow the curve of the blade.

It's a very easy way to cut a pizza, but unless you eat pizza often, it's not worth the cost in my opinion (I got mine for free), although I have no idea how expensive they are. I must admit that I prefer it over a pizza cutter myself. The reason for that is that you can put more pressure on it. One clean cut and you're through. It's also possible that I've only worked with lousy pizza cutters, that wiggled if you put a bit of pressure on them or that weren't very sharp.

And of course, if you want to cut pizza with it, you should stick with a single-bladed one ;-)

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+1 Thanks. I just use me regular knife to cut pizza, not sure what the big deal is with pizza? The wheel thing is for cutting pizza while it is sitting on stone. A dual blade mezzaluna would be interesting on pizza :-) –  TFD Mar 1 '12 at 21:28
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Well, I actually like to cut my pizza with a scissor, but a lot of people find that unorthodox. So I agree with ElendilTheTall that the mezzaluna knife isn't very needed by you. –  Mien Mar 1 '12 at 22:07

These are most useful for things like large bunches of leafy herbs (they are often sold as herb choppers) or a pile of nuts to be chopped. You can also find very large ones used for cutting pizza.

However, if you have a decent, large, sharp, chef's knife and know how to use it, you can do just as good a job without one: it depends how many gadgets you like lying around the kitchen.

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Is there a significant speed advantage (assuming you know how to use both devices correctly)? –  TFD Mar 1 '12 at 19:21
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I would say no - any possible advantage is outweighed by the fact that you have an extra utensil to wash up afterwards. :) –  ElendilTheTall Mar 1 '12 at 19:42
    
I'd agree here. I had a mezzaluna which I gave away because I wasn't using it. Pretty much the only thing I used it for was to chop hazelnuts (the bowl kept them in place) and it wasn't worth the drawer space just for that. –  FuzzyChef Mar 3 '12 at 18:38
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I have excellent knife skills, but I do use my mezzaluna - but only to chop peanuts and pistachios. Mine has a bowl, which keeps the pieces of nuts from flying all over. –  Rick G Mar 11 '12 at 15:25

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