An electric kitchen tool that is used to chop, grate, mince, slice, puree, and blend ingredients, a food processor can be a lifesaver. Even if you’re just cooking for your family, it can save time and let you combine several functions in one appliance.
Typical accessories include a processor bowl, steel “S”; blade for chopping, plastic; “S” blade for, slicing blades for fine or medium slices, and grater/shredder blades for fine to medium grating. Food processors are generally best for…
- Chopping or mincing items such as herbs, garlic, nuts, olives, and select vegetables;
- Grating carrots, cheese, chocolate;
- Slicing cabbage, onions, potatoes and vegetables;
- Mixing, blending or making breadcrumbs, bread or pizza dough, hummus, mayonnaise, and tapenade.
There are numerous tips and techniques for using food processors however, several that are common include…
- To grate soft items such as soft cheese, dried fruit, meat, poultry, or chocolate to name a few, freeze the food for 20 minutes first to stiffen it into a firmer texture that grates easier and more uniformly.
- To cut or chop food items into sizes or shapes that are similar, pre - cut the food into smaller pieces and then process by pulsing the processor on and off for short durations.
- Whip cream and egg whites with a hand mixer. Most food processors don’t have the speed to make good peaks.
- When you’re chopping nuts for recipe use, put in a teaspoon or two of sugar. You can chop them fine and not have them turn into nut butter.
- Always trim leaves or other unwanted parts from the food you wish to chop, and peel skin that is generally not edible. (A food processor is not like a juicer where all excess bits are discarded, everything you put into a processor will be in the final mixture you’re preparing).
- Fill the bowl only up to the recommended level (usually marked on the bowl), or it will leak.
- Use the plastic spatula to help move the food if needed.
- To chop food, without pureeing it, using the S shaped blade.
- Use the Pulse button instead of turning the processor on and keep an eye on the consistency.
- Shred cheese by putting a block of the appropriate size in the processor chute and using the Pulse setting and the shredding blade.
- Make coleslaw with the shredding disk rather than the slicing one, which will make the pieces too short.
- Processes such as grinding spices or nuts, pureeing into smoothly blended mixtures, or making pastes are best accomplished with a blender.
Things to Consider before buying a Food Processor
- If you prepare food for large amounts of people and would regularly use the slicing, shredding, chopping and other functions of a food processor, you may be a candidate for buying one. But, be realistic, if you aren’t likely to drag out an appliance to grate cheese or shred carrots because it’s easier to do it yourself manually, you probably don’t need a food processor.
- Consider the capacity you need. A 1-litre bowl is likely to be big enough unless you usually make large quantities of food.
- Decide whether you need any extra slicing or shredding discs. Most food processors are sufficient without extras, but you may want to add discs now or later. (You can always buy spares from the manufacturer to supplement your needs). And, make sure you have storage space for the processor and any extra accessories.
- Check special features such as mini bowls, feed chutes, number of speeds, pulsing function and whether blades are reversible. If you’re not fussed on cutting ingredients up too much before processing, choose a processor with a wide input chute. It allows long slices and long grating results.
- Check that the parts are dishwasher - safe this saves cleanup time. But make sure you place bowls on the top rack not the bottom near the element. Plastic bowls have been known to melt during the drying phase and will need to be replaced if this occurs.
- The heavier the base of your food processor, the less likely it is to move around when it’s being used. The base should also never be put in a dishwasher or underwater.
- Be very careful when handling food processor blades - they can be extremely sharp. If they come in a storage caddy, be sure to use it when the blades are not in use. If the blades come with plastic covers, replace them after cleaning and before storage.
- Read warranties carefully, and check on service options and replaceable parts.