First, make sure the cutter is assembled properly. There's a latch that holds the cutting part in place as well as a latch that holds the pusher in place. Those need to meet up properly or the pusher won't push the potato far enough through the blades.
Once it's assembled and latched, you're good to go. But don't be like me and forget to latch the cutting blade in place. Oopsie.
Second, square off your potatoes. This is the single most important thing do do for easier cutting. You don't need square off all the sides, but it's important that the bottom (the part that will be sliding along on the base of the cutter) and the two ends (first and last bits through the blade) are fairly well squared off.
You don't need to cut a lot off the potato, and you can certainly hand-cut those excesss pieces so you can cook them (they'd be oddly-shaped, even if you did cut them with the cutter), but if you don't have the potato squared off, it will tend to feed through the cutter at an angle, and then it becomes difficult to push the potato through the blades as it binds up.
However, if you potato is square, it slides through MUCH easier. It also helps if the potato is centered in the cutting blade and pusher, so the pusher is pushing evenly. If that makes sense. So somewhat larger potatoes tend to work better than small ones that are only contacting the bottom part of the pusher.
You might have seen the heavy-duty industrial fry cutters that are made from cast iron and are meant for hundreds of potatoes a day. That's not what we're talking about here. This cutter is a home-kitchen gadget. It works well, if you don't abuse it. But you're not going to be able to barrel through 50 pounds of potatoes a day.
Besides cutting potatoes, you should be able to cut other vegetables of a similar density (apples, maybe? Although I'm not sure why you want apple sticks).
I've read that even the more affordable industrial cutters aren't meant for cutting sweet potatoes because they're too hard, but I did cut purple sweet potatoes with this unit. Maybe purple sweet potatoes aren't as hard as red ones. But maybe it's better not to test fate. If you break yours from cutting something you shouldn't, don't blame me.
You can see some other fries I cut in this post.
|I wasn't supposed to do this. But I did.|
Who's it for: People who don't want to bother hand-cutting fries.
Pros: Easy to come apart and clean. Not crazy expensive. Two different cutters. Small enough so it doesn't take a lot of storage space. Lightweight. Has a suction base to hold it to the counter.
Cons: This isn't as sturdy as the ones you see in restaurants, so you can't abuse it too much.
Wishes: I wish it was just a little bit longer, so it could accommodate bigger potatoes. Sometimes I encounter giant ones.
Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.