Top 3 Historical Facts About Meat Slicers and Berkel Meat Slicers

Posted by D Dale on

Meat slicers that are used as slicing machines or deli slicers are tools common to butcher shops and delis where meats and cheeses are procured. More commonly today meat slicers, such as the Berkel meat slicer, are becoming widespread in homes as slicers have become easier to operate. Here at Berkel Sales and Service we have seen an uptick in the number of slicers especially the Berkel slicer. Home cooks are interested in investing in a solid piece of slicing equipment that can be passed down through the generations. As the meat slicer has a long standing history let’s take a look at the origins of this type of equipment.

Meat Slicer History

In 1898 pork shop owner Wilhelm Van Berkel invented the first ever food slicer in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. His invention followed the social demand to have more meats and cheeses. This arose from the prosperity of the seaside country that experienced a rise in import and export related businesses. As more and more people were becoming economically prosperous, their tastes for the finer things in life grew. Cheeses have historically been a boost to the national economy of the Netherlands, thanks to providences including Gouda, Edam, Leerdam, Leiden, and Limburg that are famous for cheese making. Additionally, the port city of Rotterdam is famous even today for its cheese markets where traditional Dutch cheeses can be purchased. The meat slicer provided cheesemakers the ability to slice cheeses, as it did for butchers and meat processors located in the cheese markets.

Berkel Meat Slicer History

Berkel’s slicer took years to perfect. He would ruin expensive cuts of meat in an attempt to use his prototype slicers. However, it was through the years of practicing on various types of meats and cheeses that Berkel was able to also see what other slicing tools were used by butchers and cheese makers. In this he learned what was working and what was a flop. For example, elliptical and spiral knives may have looked interesting, but they were wholly impractical for actually slicing meats and cheeses. Berkel finally discovered the concave knife and top-based table that slid towards the blade. This was the basic design of the Berkel we have today. He patented his machine and paved the way for the modern version of this meat slicer.

The Original Meat Slicer Today

Thanks to modern technology the Berkel meat slicer now features an electric motor to increase the efficiency of this machine for today’s meat and cheese demands. Also, in-built sharpeners and knife guards have been added to the circular blade to increase the safety of this food production whiz. Meat tables have increased in size, while self-oiling and back-plate features now promote more hygienic food practices. Additionally, the meat slicer has moved from the butcher’s block and cheese markets to the homes of cooks worldwide.

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