The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Envy me, I have the best bread slicer.

  • Pin It
verminiusrex's picture
verminiusrex

Envy me, I have the best bread slicer.

After about 3 years of browsing online auctions and losing my wish bids, I finally found a Berkel MB Bread Slicer at the liquidation sale of a bakery about an hour away. I got the slicer (new about $4k, used usually between $1000-1500) for $300. And the best part, it works. I do need to clean it up and replace a few small things (knobs, get some food grade machine oil, etc) and eventually I'll want to replace the blades (about $150). 


The wife was not very pleased when she found out about my purchase, but I think beautifully sliced loaves will mellow her over time. 


berkelslicer.jpeg

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hmm.  You must bake a heck of a lot of bread.  Does it work on various shapes, or primarily pan loaves?

verminiusrex's picture
verminiusrex

I ran two boule loaves through this morning, the only thing I have to do different from most loaves is to hold the front handle for a slower blade descent because I make softer loaves and at standard speed that can squish the loaf a bit during slicing. New blades may change that, but taking a little more time doesn't bother me.


I bake bread pretty much weekly at our house, some people may think it's a silly investment but I love perfectly sliced bread.

Trialer70's picture
Trialer70

Oh, did you score!!!  I am beginning to consider a bread slicer myself (see what retirement does for a person?  Completely over the edge on bread baking now).  What brands should I be looking for?

verminiusrex's picture
verminiusrex

Whatever you can score for a good price. Haunt ebay and craigslist until you find something for a price you are willing to pay. The big problem is that shipping is astronomical, my slicer is nearly 200 lbs and it takes 2 people to move (unless you are a lot stronger than I am). I'd also look up whatever brand you find online to make sure you can get replacement blades or have a service center in the area, just in case.

foodslut's picture
foodslut

...for being able to show my girlfriend that my own occasional gadget splurge is not as bad as some :)


Seriously, enjoy!

verminiusrex's picture
verminiusrex

Yeah, my wife gives me a hard time about a mixer that will last for 20 years and my massive bread slicer, yet we have a pile of tech equipment that is obsolete within 2 years. We all have our shiny objects.

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

Been looking for three years too, and best I saw was $600-900 used in not so great shape from a rest supply house....


You've inspired me to keep looking. However, I did buy a like new Globe 20qt mixer for $900 ($1800+new) from a bakery that had the same in a Hobart ($5k).  Perfect for the 11 lbs of dough I make at a time.  Thus a slicer would round out my day...


Good Luck!!

verminiusrex's picture
verminiusrex

Check more on cragslist and maybe find out if local auction houses often do liquidation sales at bakeries. What saved me the most was not having to ship since the auction site was only an hour from the house. 


I got a 10 qt Anvil mixer last year, but I had the excuse that I was baking for the farmers' market and needed a commercial mixer to handle the dough I was making after destroying my KA 600. I have no idea what I would do with a 20 qt mixer, the 10 qt is the largest that fits on my counter and I don't have room for a floor mixer. 


Part of me wants to get those convection ovens from Subway that you see pop up for sale occasionally. Could proof and bake a ton of bread in those. 

flyboy912's picture
flyboy912

Some time ago I was an engineer on a ship in Alaskan waters. During a storm the ship took to rolling quite a bit, and for a while I was in the kitchen assisting to get things secured with a frantic cook. The bread slicer missed our attention during a big roll and went off the counter and went crash and slid across the floor. There was 175 people on this ship with a full time baker on the night shift and this could have been a disaster, but it wasn't harmed and worked perfectly after that incident. So, they seem to be quite durable.

verminiusrex's picture
verminiusrex

That is impressive, mine weighs almost 200 lbs and was a pain to get downstairs and on it's shelf. I'd hate to be near one being thrown around a ship galley.

BettyR's picture
BettyR

where do you keep it? I have a fairly large kitchen, 288 sq feet...just measured for a new floor...and I don't think I could find a spot for something that big.

verminiusrex's picture
verminiusrex

I keep it in the basement, so it's just down a flight of stairs from the kitchen. No way that could fit into my galley kitchen, and the damned iguana that refuses to die (15 years and going strong) takes up all the space in what would be in our dinning room. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I bet!  Does your scaly friend eat crumbs?  Might be better to have it where he can crawl underneath and clean up after a slicing session.   If he disappears, might check the basement.


Can you cut anything else with it?


Some folks have room for their hobbies and crafts...  sounds like you may need a room soon for your baking.  That would be cool!  Your own room!  Swinging door perhaps?  Aprons and chef hats on a rack by the door -- ready at any moment.  Lots of counter space...

verminiusrex's picture
verminiusrex

Iggy just eats veggies, I doubt he'd pay any attention to crumbs. And I'd rather keep him locked up, reptiles can carry salmonella, which is why you always wash your hands after petting. 


In theory you can cut other things with the slicer, but it's a pain to clean so it's just bread. 


I'd love to have a room just for my baking, but the house isn't big enough. We do have a big craft room downstairs but it's just for sewing. 

BettyR's picture
BettyR

how wonderful. I live on the Texas Gluf Coast, we don't have basements.


 


My daughter has a Chinese Water Dragon named Scooter. She loves that lizard!!! I personally can't see it...I like my two mastiffs much better.

highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

Oh, how I envy the space you have.  I was eyeing my husband's garage space...but he told me not a chance.  Darn. 


Pam

msbreadbaker's picture
msbreadbaker

You are going to enjoy your Berkel bread slicer. After so many years of hand cutting and not too well I might add, I bought one myself online from a baker that was going out of business. I had tried to buy one for the home, but they are not made so I looked into the commercial ones. My mouth always watered when I was buying bread that had to be sliced and I saw how easy that worked.


I have had my machine for about 10 years and paid $1,000. for it. I thought that was pretty good seeing as to how much they cost new. Today I'm not sure I would buy online even though I saw plenty of pics before i sent the money.


Also, I don't think you'll be changing the blades yourself, it is a very exact procedure. I am on the route for the company that repairs grocery store appliances and he will stop by my house. I had to have the blades replaced 2-3 yrs ago and it cost $500. The job this machine does is great to me and worth every penny.


It is very heavy, I had a special cabinet made to handle it and it is in my kitchen. Appliances taking up space in my kitchen does not bother me, I have 3 stand mixers out on the counter, the largest being the 7 qt Viking. Not really a good machine, I only use it for mixing heavier doughs. I would not buy another. My 40 yr. old KitchenAid is still very good, comes from a time when they were made by Hobart. I got a new one a few yrs ago, the KA 6 qt and it had to be replaced before the year was out. I must say the company was very good about it, they sent the replacement before I even had to send the old one back. I figured it was not the first time they had that problem!


In any event, I love my commercial bread slicer. If anyone is interested, there is a lot of research available online regarding the commerical brands out there. After a lot of reading, I settled on the Berkel.


Thanks to all the folks that continue to give such outstanding help, it has been a great benefit to me!


Jean P. from Virginia


 

verminiusrex's picture
verminiusrex

I was wondering how difficult the blades are to replace. I may end up seeing if one of the service centers within an hour's drive is able to do it for a decent price. The blades alone would be about $150 online, knowing how to change them is the difficult part. The schematics I've seen look harder than just removing one cover and unscrewing the blades. 


How do you clean the blades? I'm looking at a commercial no rinse food service cleaner to spay on after use, and some canned air and brushes to dust it very well after cutting.

msbreadbaker's picture
msbreadbaker

Replacing the blades is tedious work. It took the serviceman a while and he did provide the blades. My machine has a narrower slice, like what one would use for rye breads, (makes the white bread a nice slice too, not as wide as store bought) therefore it takes more blades. And they are VERY sharp. Considering the speed at which they move back and forth, I'd hate to think of a slightly wrong installation in any of the blades.


Cleaning is somewhat difficult, but since it is only bread, I do not worry too much, I just take the damp dishcloth and go between the blades as best I can. It does take a little time and I can't say that I do it that much. Wiping dry would work too. Dumping the tray underneath does have to be done every now and again, however, that is easy.


If you are very mechanically inclined, you might try it, but suppose one of those blades flew off after you changed them?!


Well, you have made a good investment and you will love it. Jean P.

barkleybunny's picture
barkleybunny

SOOOOOOOO JEALOUS!!!!

chollie's picture
chollie

Sure would love to have a real bread slicer machine, but until I do:  often enough I take a newly baked loaf of bread to a local market that sells breads and pastries.  If I don't do it too often, they will run my loaf through their commercial slicer, no charge.  My normal at home method is to use the electric knife I was given for Christmas some years ago, but almost never used.  I usually start multiple slice cuts about a half inch deep into the loaf, then finish each slice with the electric knife.  But only one loaf, you ask?  Well I live alone and would just as soon make bread one loaf at a time rather than have to freeze my fresh bread

Alfie's picture
Alfie

50 years ago your slicer was the slicer of choice for rye bread at my family's bakery.  It had a somewhat thinner slice that the other bread slicer.  Yes, you can hold the blade unit up a tad if it comes down too fast and smashes the loaf.  You might be able to replace the blades yourself...not sure.  I used to replace them on the slicer where the blades where stationary and the bread was pushed through from behind.