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An electric bread slicer is a kitchen tool used for quickly and uniformly slicing bread loaves. The majority of slicers are industrial-sized, and are used in bakeries. Smaller bread slicers are designed for home use, though most are sold as all-purpose machines capable of handling a variety of foods. They receive their power electrically, and operation is usually as easy as the flip of a switch.
The most basic electric bread slicer is little more than a series of metal blades aligned in a row. When powered on, these blades quickly move up and down, slicing bread or any other substance that comes in its path. Most of the time, theses blades are at least partially serrated. This prevents excess pressure on soft breads, and allows for even, smooth slices, even at high speeds.
Users generally have the option of setting different slice sizes by controlling the distance between blades. Most models allow for slices of several thicknesses. Thickness changes must sometimes be made manually, often by turning and adjusting knobs. Depending on the model, adjustments can sometimes also be set digitally. Newer models are sometimes also able to optimize slicing according to bread type and density.
Electric bread slicer machines are primarily responsible for the uniformity of store-bought bread slices, as well. In large-scale commercial settings, bread machines whir for most of the day. As soon as bread loaves have been baked, assembly line workers feed them through huge bread slicers, then transfer them to packaging and ship them off for sale. Using a large-scale industrial slicer makes the slicing task extremely efficient.
Smaller bakeries will often slice loaves on customer request. An electric bread slicer can slice much more uniform pieces than most people can slice on their own, which makes professionally-sliced bread desirable. Once bread is sliced, however, more of its surface area is exposed to air, which causes it to grow stale more quickly. Waiting as long as possible to slice bread is usually the best option.
Some types of bread slicers are intended for the home cook. An electric bread slicer designed for home use is often much smaller, usually designed to sit comfortably on a counter top. Most are capable of exacting only one slice at a time.
It is rare to find a bread-exclusive slicer designed for individual use. Home kitchen equipment tends to be a bit more multifunctional, and most slicer machines are capable of handling not only bread, but also fruits, vegetables, and meats. Users can set the machine according to the food to be sliced, which alters the blade strength and pressure.
A manual bread slicer is another option for a home cook who wants fresh sliced bread. Manual slicers are typically much less expensive than their electric counterparts. They act more like slicing guides than slicing machines, often setting a template for uniform slices that users follow with their bread knives.