As the culinary world expands, along with it, different cultures, cuisines are reaching different parts of the world. Different cuisines are adapting to people’s tastes and preferences. Chefs and culinary experts all over the world are looking for different methods of cooking, and exercising different techniques.
With a greater emphasis on flavors, texture and cuts of the vegetables or poultry that are put up on plates, presentation and tiny texture details are all that matters. That is why the culinary experts are looking for utensils and food processors that suit their techniques and methods the best.
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What does a Food Mill Do?
A food mill is a handy food processor or food preparation utensil which is generally used to mashing boiled vegetables or sieving soft food off of fibre or seeds to get a soft and smooth paste of moderate consistency. It consists of 3 parts, the whole of it fitted into a bowl. It has two plates. The bottom plate is permanent and generally fixed into the bowl.
It is perforated like a colander which allowed the mashed ingredients to be collected below while processing the food. The fine sieve-like perforated surface prevents seeds and hard fibre from passing through, therefore the fine mashed smooth food is collected below.
The upper plate is a bent metal blade itself. The two plates have holes in the middle in which the crank fits, it allows to rotation of the blade pressing the food onto the bottom plate. Depending on the food mill quality and company, they may come with detachable bottom plates of different shapes and different perforated surfaces that may alter the texture and consistency of the food being processed.
The blade of a food mill is generally manual, especially the ones used in kitchens however industrial ones may be automated or operated by power. A food mill can be used to remove seeds from sautéed or softened tomatoes. It can also be used to mashed potatoes, remove fibre to make any vegetable paste or purées. Finer sieves in this appliance can also be used to remove the pulp from fruits or vegetables.
What does a Potato Ricer Do?
Food mills work similarly to a potato ricer, however, the potato ricer is much easier to use. The potato ricer gets its name from the tiny holes through which it squeezes out boiled vegetables, which look like rice grains. It also looks like a giant garlic press of a lemon squeezer. It has a perforated hopper where the boiled potatoes are placed.
Furthermore, it has a lever and another non-perforated hopped can be pressed on top of the food, which is in turn squeezed out of the tiny holes. Unlike other food processors, the potato ricer breaks the potatoes into hundreds of tiny pieces which provides it with a smooth but fluffy texture, airier, compared to a lump of gluten ball that sticks together and can be clumpy.
Potato ricer can also be of handy use as a strainer to drain excess water from boiled or washed greens like leafy vegetables for example blanched spinach. It can also be used as a garlic press or prepare baby food. It is handy and easy to store in the kitchen. The different texture of the potatoes mashed using a potato ricer is often used to make light and fluffy mashed potatoes, mixed in gnocchi or a base of casseroles.
Difference between a Food Mill and a Potato Ricer
Even though the food mill and potato ricer can do similar tasks, their similarity kind of starts and ends with soft foods like garlic, boiled potatoes or carrots. While the potato ricer gives a very distinct texture, the plates of a food mill can be changed to have different results and at the same time, it gives the sieving advantage. It can be used as the ultimate puree-making utensil, while the potato ricer has limited use here. The food mill can be used for various vegetables or even fruits.
The potato ricer is smaller, it takes up less space and is easier to clean. The food mill on the other hand is bigger and difficult to clean as it comes with different parts and a blade attached to the bottom plate. One may need to go through a lot of hassle to open and clean the utensil before using it to grind a separate vegetable. The potato ricer also accommodates smaller portions of food to be processed at a time. The food mill on the other hand can process large quantities of food at a time.
Substitute for Food Mill or Potato Ricer
Depending on the requirement and quantity people may choose to use different food processors, either at the home or in professional kitchens. Some of the alternative similar food processors include blenders, grinders, juicers, choppers, graters. Blenders and Choppers are two of the most common ones, with similar functions, they generally blend any type of food, raw or boiled and often require a little moisture, depending on the consistency preferred by the cook.
A juicer is typically used to make juices and may come with the added benefit of a sieve in it. Grinders are generally used to process meat or poultry and commonly to make ground beef. It finely smashes tough protein fibers into a fine mesh to make meatballs or spaghetti Bolognese. Large graters can be used to grate vegetables for salads, cheese for pizza and even raw potatoes to give a similar texture to that of a potato ricer.
While both the food mill and potato ricer have both similar and different functions, the usage depends on the preference of the cook. The ricer is handy to use, easier to clean and store. On the other hand, it is limited to processing small amounts at a time and soft vegetables only.
The food mill is larger and harder to use and clean, it gives the added benefit of sieving food and getting a different texture of food by altering the perforated bottom plate. The food mill also allows a wider range of fruits and vegetables to be processed.
At the end of the day, the choice of food the processor depends on the cook and what kind of food he is making since no one can ever make an exact copy of your mother’s special mashed potatoes!
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