If there is one issue I love about fruit, it is the way in which it can be sliced, cubed and easily more manageable to consume than just taking up an apple or pear and biting into it. In recent times whilst I have been found to buy expensively marked up "fruit bags," I decided a few months ago to make my own, using tangerine segments and a couple of apples for my fruit intake. At home, my late parents were large cooks but also loved healthy eating. So, quite naturally I have every drawer stuffed with every kind of convenience gadget known to man! From an OXO Good Grips round mango corer to an vacuum food storer with excess bags that I, myself have never used, to plenty of other gadgets I could so easily write a review about, there are also quite a few gadgets that I don't really require. The Tala round apple corer divider however seems to be a much used article as it has been in our family for two years now, only because my late mum kept the blue and white and blue "country kitchen" patch backing card it came with and tells the price which also has the date on it. Thus the original product cost £3-99 in 2010 and she bought it from a private hardware shop, with every possibility that a slight mark up has been added to the final price. Our original one had a dulling metal colour but quite compact to the eye.
The Product, The Price & The Promise
In the two years that we've owned it, I broke the original Tala a few months ago trying to core an apple due to its design and the centre round blade in this rather flat and simple divider simply caved in and broke. Now in 2013, the Tala Apple Corer is a little more expensive at £5-99 on average, although you can certainly grab a lower bargain price if you shop around. The price is the least of the Tala's worries though. I came home with my Tala apple corer since I required the use of it and it has a universal chrome finish initially with a general size of 10.5cm by 15.5cm and a 9cm central round blade width that can accommodate most widths of eating type apples. It carries product code "1103," and is also sold as a "wedger."
Thus, the promise that this gadget brings isn't hard to describe. It takes the work out of manually cutting and slicing apples whether you decide to peel them or not (I don't as I like the extra fibre that the skin provides, plus it provides different textures), particularly when some apples can be a real chore on the wrist dependent on the type you buy and slice up. I love Red Delicious apples for example, but they are quite hard to bite, never mind slice and as an alternative Royal Gala apples that are softer and more manageable can also be used with this corer, as well as a lot of other eating varieties in general. However there seems to be a lot more to this simple gadget than meets the eye.
General Impressions & Quality
Produced in default chrome with sheared off bolts on the handle, the Tala Apple corer is a central divider corer design with two handy flap wings of metal acting as handles in which you press down the palms of your hands on either side to slice through the apple in question that then produces eight precisely cut shaped wedges or segments of the apple. The central circle blade acts as the central corer remover and is an ideal located place when lining up the apple in general before the action happens.
On the base of the Tala apple corer, the blades have a natural downwards sharpness to them but they're not dangerously serrated but feel sharp to the palm regardless. Therefore if you are going to use this with children, it is best to do the apple or fruit yourself rather than simply handing over this gadget to children to use themselves; they'll probably be wary of the way this corer divider is required to be thumped down on a surface anyway!
Generally the quality to the eye is fair for the price, even though in the back of my mind knowing that we have a few Oxo Good Grips implements that they also sell a similar design with thicker rubberised handle grips and much better quality - but also at twice the price!
General Performance & Downsides
In use, the Tala apple corer is quite simple to operate, although it is best advised to use a chopping board to catch the juice and any flying seeds from the way this design handles the fruit as you'll end up pushing down on the apple, causing a slight thump to any level surface. Lining up by hovering over an apple, you just line up the central corer blade with the core of the apple, making sure the apple's "tail stem" is sticking up dead centre before the apple can be cut. I always wash my apples first, not because the blades are going to find it easier to slice through, but as general logic given the pesticides that are used on mass, loose supermarket apples anyway.
Gently pushing down on the apple allows the Tala apple corer to do its job, but it's a rather difficult effort if you push harder as the wings of the metal handles at the sides can start to feel as if they are bending outwards, forcing the whole body of the Tala's central blades to push out against the downwards force of the cutting action. Slow and gentle hand pushing is required to get the most effective cutting action even if at the very end, the cutting blades don't often get there to the end. This is because that whilst the blades themselves are set on a round and flat perimeter, the apple in question will naturally be bumpy and round with a non-set design. Trial and error therefore is required here with a little bit of patience, even if I do find the whole process far quicker and easier if I want precise shapes of apple to consume.
There are however a few downsides to this apple corer and it all comes down to its general design and build. For a start, whilst this corer divider has a naturally thin diameter, the outer walls that hold the blades in don't contain the sides of the apple particularly well when it has been sliced in performance. At times dependent on the kind of apple I'm slicing, the Tala's outer walls allow the apple segments to fall away readily, making the process of getting to the end of the apple all that more difficult. This is where Oxo's Good Grips Apple corer fights back as it has a much deeper outer ring that compensates the apple of choice when being cut into, keeping the apple segments more uniform and together until the job is done.
The other downside to this apple corer is that Tala doesn't produce it with high strength quality steel and it shows up quite badly here when it can't cut apples very successfully; this is visually supported by the handles bending due to force and I end up having to manually push the last bits of apple segments by turning the corer over with the apple hanging off it. This happens regularly if I am trying to core and slice Red Delicious apples as opposed to Royal Gala apples that have no problems due to their softer nature. Golden Delicious green apples are a mix in between, dependent on how long you store them as they can get softer over the time at a cost of reducing their natural sweetness - as with most apple types.
At the cost of possibly cutting my finger to ensure the last of the blade gets through the apple- this is where I find the back of a teaspoon works as a general helper, tapping the back of the apple to tap the blade through to make the final slice.
The lack of better quality metal also shows up with its general impressions. Although made of bright chrome and for those fruit fans who may worry about flaking chrome (as with a lot of supermarket hand mixers that include chrome beaters as standard as opposed to stronger steel), it isn't an issue here as the metal that Tala have made this corer design with seems to be of better quality - unless you place this in a dishwasher! After a few weeks of being placed in a dishwasher, my Tala Apple corer is no longer shiny chrome, but rather back to the dulling nature that our original Tala apple corer we had before.
For cooking apple slicing - forget it - when the Tala struggles on Red Delicious apples, it would probably break on contact when trying to slice cooking apples.
Whilst the Tala apple corer looks like a talented design that is simple and basic, it needs to have a better redesign to make it last longer as well as bit more comfortable to use in general; with its cost price being reasonably cheap however, this is one gadget that I foresee as being a regular re-purchase due to its poor and thin metal design. With poor metal handles that are not sheathed for comfort as well as a habit of allowing the blades to bend upwards and out, the Tala apple corer is a rather limited slicer, only suitable if you want precise segments of apple cut quickly - but at the cost of breaking if the instant requirement of cut apples can't compete with the speed of requirement for eating at the time and of the types chosen! Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2013.
My mum likes kitchen gadgets and nick-nacks, and my dad likes buying them for her. That is how the Tala apple corer and wedger came into our house. My mum put it in a drawer unopened, and when she needed the space for something else, she declared that it now belonged to me. So it got to live in a different drawer for a while. I already had a stand alone corer, and I thought if I wanted to cut my apple into wedges, I would just use a knife. However, my dad took a liking to fruit salads with apple chunks in when he wasn't well and he didn't feel like eating much else. So I thought I may as well try the wedger to see if it speeded up preparation at all. I have a large number of other pieces of kitchen equiptment by Tala so I had high hopes that this product would also be more useful than it looked..
It is made of stainless steel, and looks like a small tray. There is a flat handle sticking out each side and blades radiating out from the centre like spokes of a wheel. In the middle is the circular blade that acts as the corer. Tala say that it will remove the core and divide the apple into 8 segments "in a single action."
The wedger came simply packaged as it was tied onto a blue and white checked piece of card. It is therefore very easy to open. The back of the packet contains instructions suggesting the wedger needs to be well washed before use, but apart from that it is ready to use. You are told to place the apple on a chopping board, core pointing upwards, and then position the centre of the corer above it. Then you press downwards and slide the wedger down the fruit. Sounds easy doesn't it? Well on a evenly shaped apple, that is how it works most of the time. If you are using an apple with a top that is lumpy or uneven [as are many of the homegrown aples that I have], it is difficult to start the corer on it's downward journey in a straight line. If you can't, you may not remove all of the core in one stroke. You do have to exert a reasonable pressure to push the corer through, and sometimes doing so can cause the apple to slip, which given the blades that are involved, raises the possibility of accidents. After this happened twice, I used a board that was originally intended for the carving of meat but never used for that purpose. It has spikes in the base which I could spear the apple on to prevent it moving around. Obviously not everyone will have one of these to hand so do be careful and protect your hands! The other problem is that when you have pushed the wedger as far as you can - down until it meets the chopping board- the base of the apple still has not been divided. So you have to turn the apple up the other way and wiggle the last bit through. I kept getting the feeling that I could have got through the apples faster using just a knife! I woud also like the handles to be a bit bigger, as they don't feel that easy to grip.
I have tried using it when I was making large quantities of stewed apple for the freezer, but I kept getting frustrated by the incomplete coring. It may produce more even pieces of apple than I could do by hand, but I am not too worried about that. The trouble is I can only use it if I want apples that are both cored and cut into wedges as the same motion does both. I think a simple corer is actually more useful because it is more versatile and handy for baked apples! I would recommend that unless you want to eat wedges of apples frequently, that you don't bother with a wedger and corer duo. If you do want one, I don't think that the Tala one is especially efficient, unless you have perfectly sized and evenly formed apples to deal with. Actually, it doesn't quite always manage to do what it says in one single movement even if you do have perfect apples! In it's defence, the wedger is at least easy to clean by swishing it in water and it feels solid and like it would last a fair while. It won't be living with me for much longer though!
Dad paid £3.99 in an independent cookware shop for this and it is available from £2.99 on Amazon. Wilkinsons also do quite a lot of Tala items so it may be available there too.
[This review also appears on Ciao, under my user name.]