A commercial food and meat slicer can quickly turn many of the products you stock into uniform, perfectly sliced pieces ready to serve, making your staff’s job very easy and improving the efficiency and profitability of your operation. The last commercial food and meat slicer I bought paid for itself in under a month from extending the portions of cooked meats it was primarily used for (in this case Sunday Roast joints and cooked hams) as opposed to hand-carving prior to its purchase.
Slicers are usually used to cut meats however some will also slice items such as cheese, and eggs, among other things. A commercial slicer consists of an electric motor, a metal base, and a feeder tray that moves the foodstuff past a metal blade to produce a uniform slice of varying thickness according to the slice setting used.
What Do You Want To Slice?
While the slicer itself is a pretty simple device, not all slicers will handle all foodstuffs or the quantity you wish to slice and you need to be careful when purchasing a slicer to avoid getting the wrong one.
It all comes down to what exactly you intend to slice. That’s because different slicers have different capabilities, and if you try to slice something that’s too heavy for your slicer, you’ll end up with a burned out motor.
You’ll almost always be tempted to get a standard or light duty slicer because they are significantly less expensive than larger, heavier duty slicers. That’s great if you just need to slice up some hams or roast joints of meat but if you need to slice any kind of cheese or frozen product, a light duty slicer will burn out very quickly. Here’s how to decide which kind of slicer is right for you based on the type of product you want to slice:
Standard (Light) Duty Slicers are fine for cooked meats and bread but not recommended for slicing cheese
Medium Duty Slicers can slice cheese at most for an hour or two a day (The sort you will see in a supermarket deli section and not in most pub kitchens). They are not recommended for frozen product.
Heavy Duty Slicers can slice any amount of cheese or frozen product – and unless you are running an in-house butchery department in your pub you will not need one of these.
The heavier the duty the slicer is, the larger the diameter of the blade it will house and the bigger the size of product you can slice. Whilst you will want to make sure you size the blade diameter to the size of the product you want to slice, chances are you will not need more than a standard duty slicer. If you need to slice items larger than these machines will slice then you can always cut the product to fit the blade)
All slicers allow you to adjust the thickness of the slice and have safety features like a blade guard.
Manual vs. Automatic Slicers
A manual slicer requires the feeder tray to pass back and forth over the food product past the slicing blade as it rotates. Some manual slicers also feature a gravity fed feeder tray, which ensures the product is in the proper position to slice on each pass.
Automatic slicers feature an electrically powered pusher for independent operation. If you’re slicing large amounts of product all at once, an automatic slicer is more convenient because it can slice continuously without constant staff assistance. (Probably not what you will need for the average pub kitchen.)
Slicer Cleaning & Maintenance
Slicers should be thoroughly sanitised on a regular basis using a properly mixed commercial sanitising concentrate and water. Many slicers have a built in sharpening stone that will keep the blade consistently sharp. Of course, whenever your staff work around an ultra-sharp blade whirring at a high speed, they should have cut resistant gloves on.
There are several moving parts in the feeder tray and carriage assemblies on a slicer that should be lubricated regularly to ensure smooth operation and improve the lifespan of the slicer and you must use a food-grade lubricant for these tasks.
With lots of use, parts of your slicer are going to wear out, most commonly the slicing blade and the drive belt (if applicable), fortunately the parts that most commonly wear out are also the easiest to replace. All these parts should be readily available from your catering equipment supplier.