Each week, we rummage through the dark corners of our kitchen drawers to bring you an enigmatic item. We ask you to guess what it is in our weekly From the From the Back of the Drawer puzzle. To enter this week’s puzzle, visit this page. To read more descriptions of past items, visit this page. And, don’t forget to donate your odd items to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.
This week, we found a channeling knife!
Sometimes in the course of culinary preparations, a fruit or vegetable may need to look like more than it is. A radish may need to look like a rose or a cantaloupe like a basket or a cucumber like the Statue of Liberty—well, maybe not that last one.
Usually a good paring knife will do for carving and scalloping, but a more specialized tool can be a quick fix when you need, say, carrot flowers for your clear broth soup.
This week’s Back of the Drawer mystery item is a channeling or channel knife. If we know it at all, we probably know it as a bartender’s tool to cut lemon or orange curls for garnishes. In fact, this is the use you most often hear when this “knife” is discussed. Some websites call it “a commonly used bar tool”; websites that sell it usually describe it as a tool for stripping the peel off of citrus. Some companies even combine a standard zester and channel knife together on the same tool.
But it can be used by commercial chefs and caterers when they want a vegetable to look a bit more festive. As you’ll see from the video, Chef James Cullen from Café Reconcile in New Orleans has a more interesting use for it: he does a quick channeling on a carrot and cucumber to create carrot flower slices and striped cukcumber slices. By extension, it could be used to “channel” fruits and vegetables for other decorative uses.
Given how quick and easy it is to cut grooves in vegetables with this tool, it deserves more use than just another citrus zester. They’re made by many kitchen tool companies and cost around $10.