June 1999 Issue (Updated March 2002 Issue)
By Jennifer Hicks
Veggie Prepping With Power
Its no secret: Electric vegetable processors make short work of slicing, dicing and chopping jobs . With one unit and some cutting plates you can do almost anything to any vegetable in a jiffy.
In this story well make short work of the category, because, frankly, compared to other equipment categories weve covered veggie processors really have more commonalities than differences. Well examine continuous-feed commercial vegetable processing units only. There are hybrid processors out there that combine veggie processing capabilities with purée and other functions; well leave those for another story. Well also forego bowl-style commercial cutters and other units designed for broader use, such as meat processing.
Weve zeroed in on 1&Mac218;2-hp units. You can buy continuous-feed preppers with 3&Mac218;4-hp ratings and beyondwhich youd want if youre contemplating lots of cheese prepbut we confine our discussion here to 1&Mac218;2-hp models because theyre the most popular among chain operators. Why? Their veggie cutting capabilities are myriad, and their price is right. Typically a one-halfer cuts anywhere from 350 to 800 lbs. of vegetables an hour depending on vegetable and type of cut. And thats at a cost of roughly $1,100 to $2,000 for the unit itself, with most of them hitting on the near side of $1,500. In most cases the cutting platesalso called discsmust be purchased separately; well discuss those prices later.
We cant comprehensively cover every supplier in this limited space, so the specs you see represent models from six top companies: Dito Dean Food Prep, General Slicing, Globe Food Equipment, Hobart Corp., Mannhart Inc. and Robot Coupe U.S.A. There are other suppliers; we include a complete list of suppliers at the end of this story.
Your veggie cutters motor will be driven either by a belt or by gears. Not surprisingly, supplier opinions differ on the subject of transmissions. Belt-drive proponents say their units require less work when repair is needed, and that the repair work itself is less costly. Gear-drive suppliers suggest their processors hold up better under heavy loads and say their motors need no adjustment over time.
Regardless of these points, if youre looking for better throughput you need to know its not really related to your transmission. Nor does it involve motor speed; increasing RPMs wont make a processor better able to process more food, particularly since higher RPMs are more likely to mush delicate vegetables.
Instead, the best way to ensure youll get max output is to go for large feed chutes and large cutting plates. In other words, the more you can get into the unit at a whack and the more cutting surface you have within, the more processed product youll be able to generate.
Pusher Tools, Plate Prices Vary
Before we zip through the models, remember some features of veggie preppers are universal. All machines offer auto shutoff, for example, which stops cutting action when the hopper cover is opened. Pusher tools come standard, although they are attached differentlywell detail below. Also standard are one-year warranties.
Now, the range of cutting options is staggering, to say the least. Lay out spec sheets on these six models, begin examining cutting plate capabilities, and your vision promptly blurs. We list the number of plates available per model in the spec boxes, but heres a sample of what you can get: Depending on the model, basic plates can slice, dice, grate, julienne, french fry cut and shred. Some suppliers offer plates for waffling, wave slicing and cubing. Slicing plates can be had that slice from 1&Mac218;32 to 5&Mac218;8 in width, depending on the supplier. Grating plate ranges vary; typical cuts are 1&Mac218;16 (fine) to 9&Mac218;16 (extra coarse), and some suppliers offer special plates for grating nuts, chocolate and bread crumbs.
Julienne blades can cut as small as 1&Mac218;16 and as large as 9&Mac218;32. Among the dicing plates, cuts of 9&Mac218;32 to 3&Mac218;4 typically are available. And what this all means, of course, is that once you know your requirements you really need to examine the plate options available to make the best decision for your operations and menus.
You can compare many of the vital stats on these machines via the spec boxes throughout this story, so our model wrap-up here will be brief (and alphabetical). Dito Dean is first with the belt-driven TR-22 and TR-23 models, which sport plastic bases and stainless steel blades. Identical in appearance, the TR-22 incorporates a 1&Mac218;2-hp motor, while the TR-23 features a 3&Mac218;4-hp hummer. Output for these units ranges from 300 to 800 lbs. per hour, depending on the product. You can choose from 26 different blades and grids, with plate prices hovering around $115.
Next, General Slicing offers the P507L. This gear-driven unit with swing-away pusher tool comes standard with eight cutting plates, four to slice, two to julienne, and one each to shred and cube. The P507L cuts 300 to 750 lbs. of product per hour depending on food type and cut size. Eight cutting plates cost anywhere from $84 to $168.
As previously noted, General Slicing also offers the G100L, a belt-driven 1-hp unit with stainless steel lower housing and a die-cast polished aluminum upper housing. The unit utilizes 15 discs for a variety of cutting tasks.
Meanwhile, Globes gear-driven GFP500 is shown here; it cuts up to 900 lbs. per hour depending on product and plate. Pusher tool swings away. Globe sells 31 plates separately for roughly $200 and up. A three-plate starter pack is available at a discounted price.
The FP-100 from Hobart, meanwhile, is the smallest unit of this group at less than 9 wide and about 16 deep. Its gear-driven motor can produce roughly 600 lbs. of product per hour. Twenty-one plates are sold separately; expect to pay $94 to $143 each, with special prices on three and six packs. The piston-grip pusher tool swings away.
Mannharts M2000 offers a hinged feed hopper lid and dual feed openings. The larger pusher is attached, the smaller is not. The M2000 is belt driven and produces 600 to 650 lbs. per hour while slicing, 650 to 800 lbs. when dicing. Eighteen accessories are sold separately, costing $126 to $154 apiece. All cutting edges and julienne cutting bars are easily replaceable in minutes. The M2000 also comes with a storage rack for accessories and a 10-minute training video.
And Robot Coupes CL50 is a belt-driven model with a hinged pusher tool. The company says the CL50 can output about 500 lbs. per hour. Unlike the other processors here, the CL50 comes standard with two cutting plates, a 1&Mac218;8 slicing plate and a 1&Mac218;8 grating plate. You have 35 other plates to choose from, at $155 to $328 apiece. You can purchase a model with a composite plastic base, as well.
Warning, Will Robinson
With arms flailing we remind you that operating any cutting/chopping machine is serious business. Stick with us as we discuss some rudimentary safety tips; it never hurts to review the basics with your employees, especially if it means they wont get hurt.
First, fingers are important. Tell your staffers to keep them out of hoppers and discharge chutes when your machine is plugged inwhether running or notand hands should never be used to push product into the unit. Thats why pusher tools come standard with all models.
Second, proper handling and storage of cutting plates goes a long way toward avoiding injury. Instruct staffers to allow plates to air dry after cleaning so theres no risk of injury from towel drying. Never leave plates submerged in a sink, as any hapless joe (or joan) can come along and unsuspectingly thrust a hand into the water. Use the plate storage racks offered by your supplier; racking plates keeps them visible at all times.
Should you need to clear product from inside the machine during use, turn off the machine and unplug before trying to remove anything from the slicing chamber. Simply turning off the machine isnt good enough when cleaning or changing plates because the on/off switch could easily be bumped to the on position. You dont need to be on OSHAs speed dial.
As for general cleaning, the base of your processor should never be submerged in water. Stainless, aluminum and plastic housings can be wiped down with a damp cloth. All removable parts other than cutting plates, including the cover, discharge chute and pusher tool, can be washed in hot soapy water, rinsed and dried by hand. Cutter plates, as weve noted, should be air dried after their daily cleaning. Suppliers also suggest keeping plates out of your warewasher, as detergents and activity within the washer can dull plates quickly.
That wraps up our quick guide to powered veggie cutters. Issues not discussed here certainly can be taken up with your supplier; consult the box on the previous page for a guide to reaching these companies and others. And make note of the specs below, which have been added to this updated story.
Editors Update: While this story originally focused on 1&Mac218;2-hp veggie prep machines, we thought youd like to know that some makers in this group have recently introduced higher-powered models. In the months following the first run of this story, for example, General Slicing introduced the 1-hp G100L to its lineup. Thus, both the G100L and the P507L appear here.
Likewise, Dito Dean now offers a 3&Mac218;4-hp companion unit to its 1&Mac218;2-hp model. Both are discussed here.
Final note: Berkel Inc., a company long involved in this category, has discontinued sales of its TM-100.JH
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