Although we’re often used to seeing processed food as a less desirable version of the original ingredients, the rule does not apply to the work done by the food processor. This smart, versatile kitchen addition can be a vital resource in creating fresh, healthy meals at home. Buying one is the first step towards breaking free from bland, nutritionally poor ready made meals.
The parts of a Food Processor:
It is still possible to find hand-powered food processors to grind or pulverize spices, herbs or nuts, for example, but most of the top range models these days are electrically powered, many with the potential to deliver over 1,000 watts of processing power. Entry-level processors give just a couple of speed options with a pulse mode, while the top-of-the range processors promise ten or more speed settings.
Unlike the slender beaker of a blender, the food processor gives a low, wide work bowl with a capacity up to 20 cups in some cases, more than enough to make bread dough or shred a whole cabbage. Look for those with a feeder spout in variable width so that you can feed in ingredients one by one to get the perfect balance.
In the cooking world, there is little to compare with the thrill of unpacking a food processor to discover an array of attachments, including cutting discs and blades, blades and whisks. All slot neatly over the central rotating arm. Make your choice and you are set to substitute exhausting knife work for a couple of touches on a button. With a food processor, you can shred, dice, chop, slice and whisk. Some models also supply a juicer cone for making fresh juice.
Pros of a Food Processor:
If cooks genuinely loved chopping piles of vegetables, trainee chefs wouldn’t be given the job to test their resilience. It can be a long, tiring ordeal to work your way through piles of onions or carrots to make a simple mirepoix. With a food processor, the task becomes light work, and the quality is vastly improved as each cut is the same size and shape. Added to that, it’s almost impossible to cut your fingers with a food processor unless you intentionally went against the rigorous safety instructions or found a way to bypass the safety features, since most will cut out automatically the moment the feeder seal is broken.
Cons of a Food Processor:
At the risk of contradicting the previous point, some chefs do find food processors remove the tactile pleasure of cooking. Traditionalists still argue that there is no substitute for grinding spices with a pestle and mortar or slowly hand-grinding coffee beans.
Food processors are also limited where it comes to purees, emulsions and smoothies. The single, wide blade can struggle to break down all the chunks in a soup or smoothie, so the task is better reserved for a blender.
Finally, food processors tend to be a bit more bulky and cumbersome. Give them their spot on the counter and let them do their work. If you want to quickly zap a sauce or puree in the pot, much better to reach for a hand blender and finish the job in seconds.
Nowadays, a solid, competent food processor can be picked up for the price of good restaurant steak, and they will last longer than many expensive kitchen knife sets.