When I first heard about spiralizers (spiral slicer), I wondered if they were just another of those kitchen tools that sound utterly indispensable, but end up gathering dust in the back of the cupboard. After a year with mine, I only wish I had bought it sooner. We grow a lot of vegetables and eat a largely plant-based diet, so finding new ways to present vegetables is always exciting. This must-have kitchen gadget quickly turns vegetables, such as zucchini and daikon radish, into a delicious pasta/noodle alternative that is higher in fibre and vitamins, without the need for chef standard knife skills. I love homemade pasta and bread, but with the help of the spiralizer I can easily make low calorie, carb free versions of my favourite dishes for those days when I want something lighter. Spiralized vegetables are great for those on special diets such as vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo or raw. If you have a picky eater in your household they are also a great way to sneak more vegetables into a meal.
Which Vegetables are suitable for spiralizing?
Zucchini is by far the most popular vegetable for spiralizing as it lends itself perfectly to the technique, but it is by no means the only vegetable suitable. Here are some tips on how to determine which fruit/veg will spiralize well:
- Vegetable/fruit should not be hollow or have a pit/stone
- Must be dense and have firm flesh – soft, juicy fruit/veg just won’t work
- Fruit/veg with a fluffy seeded core often does not work (or can be tricky), in some cases it is possible to scoop out the seeds and spiralize.
- Works best with vegetables at least 3.8cm diameter and 5cm long
Fruit and Vegetables that work well
- Butternut Squash
- Carrot –
- Daikon Radish
- Summer Squash
- Sweet Potato
- Taros – noodles pa
- White Potato
- Winter squash
Fruits and Vegetables that don’t work
- Leafy greens
- Broccoli and Cauliflower florets (stems work)
With some vegetables like capsicum, you can get a result, but its shredding rather than spirals and doesn’t work all the time.
Spiralizers come in varying styles, but all are portable and easy to use. Those that look a bit like a giant pencil sharpener are great for those cooking for one or spiralizing irregularly. I have a large tabletop version, which is more expensive, but perfect for me as I spiralize a lot. I have only experienced one spiralizer, so cannot comment on how it performs against others.
I bought the ‘Spirooli 4 in 1 spiralizer’ on Ebay for $39.90 AUS, including postage. It has suction cups on the base to hold it in place, these work well on my stone counter, but don’t work on my wood bench. This model comes with 4 different blades, Angel Hair Blade (very fine), Spaghetti Blade (fine), Fettuccine Blade (course) and Flat Blade (Slicer). There is a convenient blade storage area in the machine so they don’t get lost or damaged.
To create noodles you insert the chosen blade, push the vegetable onto the comb looking attachment, then push on the green handle at the bottom, whilst turning the hand crank. The result depends on the blade and vegetable used and the amount of pressure applied. It takes a bit of practice to get the hang of it, but once you have the knack it’s very easy.
The examples below show the blades and the results from each when used with Zucchini. As you can see all blades cuts cleanly and evenly.
Flat blade – Great for making attractive vegetable shapes for adding to salads and for shredding vegetables such as cabbage to make sauerkraut or coleslaw.
Angel hair – Makes a thin delicate spiral that takes very little time to cook. I mainly use this one for salads and thin noodles but it also makes great angel hair daikon radish garnish for sushi and sashimi
Spaghetti Blade (fine) – Creates spaghetti diameter noodles and spaghetti
Fettuccine Blade (course) – This attachment makes thicker noodles/spaghetti and makes excellent curly fries
Ways to Prepare Spiralized Vegetables
Spiralized vegetables can be cooked or eaten raw and crunchy. In general, if you would roast, saute, stir-fry, steam or boil the vegetable, you still can once it is spiralized, but the cooking time will be greatly reduced. When I cook ‘angel hair’ pasta/noodles, I literally drop them in heated sauce and turn them a few times in it before removing from the heat. Everyone has different preferences as to how they like their pasta/noodles so I suggest tasting regularly while cooking to work out what suits you. I like mine to retain a bit of crunch. If the vegetable has an inedible skin, remove with a vegetable peeler before you start.
Below are some examples of meals I prepared using the spiralizer:
Storing spiralized vegetables
Spiralizing is very quick so I rarely feel the need to prepare vegetables in advance. If you want to spiralize in bulk, you can store the spirals in water in the fridge for a couple of days to keep it crunchy. If spiralizing a vegetable that will turn brown e.g. apples, just add a little lemon juice to the water.
Use of leftovers
The spiralizer leaves behind bits of veg that are too small/thin to spiralize. This need not be a disadvantage as you can use them to make wonderful homemade vegetable stock, juice/blend them and add to smoothies, or feed them to animals. My dogs love leftover vegetables mixed into their feed and the pigs and chickens are always happy to receive any spare veg that is on offer.
Cleaning the blades
The first time I used my spiralizer I foolishly cleaned the blades with a cloth…and cut straight through the cloth and into my finger. The blades are sharp. The best way to clean them is to rinse under the tap, then remove stubborn vegetable bits with a toothbrush, nail brush or small scrubbing brush.
Don’t want to buy a spiralizer?
I find my spiralizer extremely useful and would strongly recommend anyone who grows their own vegetables or is interested in their health to add one to their kitchen arsenal. If you don’t want to spend money on yet another kitchen gadget however, you can create vegetable ribbons by hand, with a vegetable peeler. Simply cut the ends from the vegetable, remove skin/peel (if it is inedible) and then run the peeler along the vegetable to create long strips. They are not as uniform or attractive as those made with a spiralizer (mine aren’t anyway!), but they taste just as good.