Thursday, 22 September 2016

Runner Bean Slicers

With a bumper crop this year I have rooted out my bean slicing devices:

The larger "auto bean slicer" is an homage to the wind turbines now dotted across our countryside. Who can resist the thrill of high speed rotating razor sharp blades?

The smaller "Bean Slicer and Stringer" is actually a more complex engineering feat both de-stringing and slicing in one action.  

Both cut thin slices one diagonally and the other lengthways.

I'm not recommending either as I always revert to using a small sharp knife.

The downsides of these gadgets are that the "auto bean slicer" requires you to trim (top and tail and if necessary de-string) the beans in advance. Any beanpods larger than the twin apertures need to be cut down to size too.  On feeding the trimmed beans through the device while turning the handle it spits out slices of varying sizes in a scatter pattern across 180 degrees. A circular bowl deployed at the receiving end will only catch a small portion of the output and is easily dislodged as you try to angle it for maximum capture. The result of my experimentation was so shamefully and comically messy I couldn't bring myself to record it. Cleaning should be carried out with extreme caution as those blades are sharp and unprotected. One is left with the question: Where is the "auto" in this manual device. If you had two people operating this together and a suitable capture system I guess you could produce a freezer full of beans in record time...

The "Bean Slicer and Stringer" has a better design, incorporating a separate blade for topping and tailing, four parallel slicing blades and two for stringing which self adjust courtesy of one of them being on a spring loaded arm. All blades are to some degree recessed within the plastic frame. The thing is that it strings the beans regardless, and it delivers a lengthways cut rather than lateral or diagonal. Nowadays it could be marketed as bean tagliatelle, but it is unconventional.  If you have long beans you are best to cut them into smaller lengths before feeding through the device. And the feeding is a dilema too. Do you push the length through or resort to pulling from the already sliced side with the risk of breaking them off? Probably a bit of both.

Having had to deploy your favourite sharp stubby kitchen knife you will, I assure you resort to conventional manual processing with it.  While topping and tailing you establish whether there is any string to be strung then cut at whatever angle takes your fancy straight into the pan. Job done! If you really like the idea of bean tagliatelle get the "Bean Slicer and Stringer".


  1. We set up a production line when trimming our runner beans. I top and tail then with the kitchen scissors and then pass them over to Martyn who strings them with a potato peeler. Then they come back to me to chop them up, again using a pair of kitchen scissors. It works for us :-)

  2. I'm not a fan of gadgets like that. I prefer the knife, as you do. Probably quicker in the long run - especially if you take into account the clearing-up required when using that "automatic" device.

  3. They make a good blog post though. Always wondered how good they were. Now I know.

  4. I go t really excited with the title of your post...but it was very short lived. At times a hands on job just can't be beaten...even if I always do lose a few layers of skin and finger print off one finger each year!!