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A food processor is a versatile kitchen appliance that usually has a bowl-like body connected to its motor where blades and discs are used. Food processors come in different sizes whereas countertop models will usually be sizes 3 cups to 8 cups. Depending on the make and model, food processors can be powerful enough to mix, grate, knead, shred, and blend food. With speeds ranging from 300 revolutions per minute (rpm) to 3500 revolutions per minute (rpm) food processors can also be used to:
- Blend ingredients for pesto together
- Slice potatoes thinly
- Grind meat well
- Churn butter at home
Smaller models will cost about $1200 and will have at most five different speeds. On the other hand, heavy-duty food processors will have about ten different speeds but will cost four or five times as much. Food processors come with standard S-blades which are responsible for stirring, pureeing, and chopping food ingredients. However, cutting disks or specialty disks can be purchased if the food processor is going to be used for emulsifying or wavy slicing. Slicing blades can also be removable or more permanent whereas the former should be replaced every 6 months if the food processor is constantly used.
There are also different controls such as the pulse button where you can constantly check if ingredients are the right size or consistency. Food processors are designed with a feeding tube in order to insert ingredients while the cutting blades are hard at work. Models today come with lids to keep food in the mixing bowl and as a safety precaution. The plastic mixing bowl’s capacity will depend on the model you buy and will range from 3 cups to 20 cups. This way, you can make big batches of pesto sauce or pulse bread crumbs. Here are the other uses for a food processor.
One use of a food processor is for blending soups, smoothies, and sauces.. For smoothies, greens and frozen fruits should be blended first followed by seeds and powders. The liquid base and sweeteners should then be added afterwards so that all of the previous ingredients are fully incorporated into your smoothie.
A second use of a food processor is a breadcrumb maker. Leftover bread can be easily made into breadcrumbs in less than a minute in the food processor. For fresh breadcrumbs, tear your bread into small pieces where each slice of bread should be torn into at least 6 smaller pieces. Pulse the bread 8 to 10 times for a second each and keep them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one week.
Dried breadcrumbs can be made by baking your bread slices in the oven for 30 minutes at 200°F (93°C). After the bread cools down, break them up into smaller pieces and use 1-second pulses about 10 times in the food processor. Homemade dried breadcrumbs can be kept in the pantry in an airtight container for 1 month.
Another use for your food processor can function as a butter churner. You can use a moderate speed on the food processor to turn heavy cream into butter. Look for a high-quality unpasteurized cream to make butter quickly and use enough to cover the S-blade of the food processor but less than half of the mixing bowl. Let the food processor whir for around 8 minutes stopping every 30 seconds or so to scrape the sides of the mixing bowl. Five minutes in, you’ll notice clumps starting to form and you can pour out the liquid buttermilk and strain the butter. You’ll need to put the butter back in the food processor and rinse it with cold water two or three times to remove whey protein that will make the butter go bad quickly. Afterwards, chill the butter and use it within five days if you’re keeping it in the refrigerator.
Your food processor can be used as a cheese shredder. Grating cheese by hand can be tedious but you can save time and have a similar texture to store-bought cheese when you shred your cheese in the food processor. Choose a harder cheese to shred in the food processor so that it will not stick together. If you have a whole block of cheese, cut it into smaller chunks to fit through the feeding tube and use the slicing blade. After shredding your cheese, place it in a freezer-safe bag and use it within 3 months.
Use the metal blade of the food processor to mix up your pizza dough. Manufacturers recommend using the plastic blade for kneading dough, but the metal blade will mix the ingredients better and knead it faster. After using warm water, sugar and yeast in a separate bowl, pulse all of your dry ingredients in the food processor for 3 seconds. Add your oil and activated yeast with the dry ingredients and pulse 8 to 10 times using 1-second pulses. Make sure you add cold water as you continue to knead to the dough to counteract the heat that the friction of the blades creates. Your dough will be ready when it forms a ball in the mixing bowl.
Make homemade flour in the food processor by pulsing oatmeal, quinoa, or rice. Simply measure out your preferred grain, pulse for two minutes, and scrape down the sides every 30 seconds to make sure that all of the grains will be finely ground. You can store your homemade flour for 3 months in an airtight container.
A food processor can also make both traditional ice cream and “nice cream” can easily. Classic ice cream requires you to mix and freeze the ice cream base or custard in a freezer-safe bag and then break it up into chunks that will fit through the food processor’s feeding tube. The frozen base will need to be pulsed along with any additional flavoring you want.
Alternative ice cream made out of frozen bananas can also be churned in a food processor. Make sure that the bananas are in chunks small enough to fit through the attached feeding tube and scrape down the sides if needed.
Make Dressing and Sauce
Pplace all of the ingredients in the food processor and let it process for 30 seconds to make your go-to sauces and salad dressings. You can also choose to pulse the ingredients 8 to 10 times using 1-second pulses if you’re making a chunkier sauce or a more textured hummus.
The food processor also makes a powerful grinder. There is a lower risk of cross-contamination when you choose to grind your favorite meat and cuts at home. No matter what type of meat you choose from, it is best to have 15% to 25% of fat in the ground meat so that it will not be too tough and will not taste like much. Cut up your meat into 1-inch cubes and place them onto a baking sheet along with the slicing disc for about 25 minutes. This is so that the S-blade can chop your meat without pulverizing it and so that the fat does not melt. Fill up the food processor up to the halfway mark and pulse the meat 8 to 10 times for a second each time.
Nut and Seed Butter Maker
You can also make nut or seed butter with your food processor. After choosing between your base of almonds or sunflowers, roast the nuts or seeds in the oven at 325°F (162°C) for 5 to 8 minutes. Add the nuts or seeds into the food processor and process for 10 to 12 minutes. You’ll see your base turn into a fine meal, form clumps, and then become a creamy nut or seed butter. Store your nut or seed butter in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
The food processor can be used instead of chopping big batches of nuts by hand. In batches, pulse nuts in the food processor one cup at a time for about 30 seconds. This way, your nuts will not turn into nut butter.
The food processor is also an efficient potato slicer. Wash, dry, and peel your potatoes to prep them for the food processor. Slice the potatoes into haves then push the potatoes through the feeding tube. Push down on the plunger to make sure that the potatoes are being sliced by the blade and only put in 1 potato half at a time.
An alternative to a puree machine is a food processor because it is quick and easy after you chop up your ingredients and place them in the mixing bowl. The food processor’s blades do a good job of breaking down different textured ingredients and pureeing them into a smooth pesto sauce or soup. Process the ingredients until you reach your desired texture and use a spatula to get all of the purees out of the mixing bowl.
Use your food processor to easily grate washed and peel vegetables . After preparing the vegetables, chop up the vegetables in order to fit into the feeding tube. If your food processor comes with a grating disc, place that into the mixing bowl then add in the vegetables to be shredded.
Whip Up Condiments
Mayonaise at home can be whipped up in the food processor in less than 10 minutes and can last up to a week refrigerated in an airtight container. Add your egg yolk, mustard, acid of choice, and seasoning into the mixing bowl of the food processor and turn it on. While your ingredients start mixing, use a measuring cup with a spout to slowly add your oil into the mixture using the feeding tube on top of the food processor. After 3 minutes or so, your mayonnaise should be ready and transferred to a container.
What are the common mistakes for usage of a food processor?
Learning how to use a food processor for the listed uses above takes time and you will need to certain actions for your own safety and for maintenance. Here are the most common mistakes when it comes to food processors:
- Add ingredients to the bowl before the blade. When you put food into the mixing bowl first, the blade will not be situated properly at the bottom. This means that you will have to take out the ingredients to start over or injure yourself trying to fix the blade.
- Non-optimal pulsing. Utilizing the pulse button is a great way to chop or grind ingredients but it should be held down for the right amount of time. If you are holding down the button for too long, it might liquify the ingredients but if you hold it down for a really short period of time the ingredients may not be chopped well.
- Not putting parts in the right place in your dishwasher. Check the food processor’s user manual to double-check which parts are dishwasher-safe. Usually, the mixing bowl, its cover, and the blade can be washed in the dishwasher but they must be at the top of your dishwasher. The bottom rack can wear down these three parts because of the heat that emanate from the bottom of your dishwasher.
- Not replacing blades. With constant use, your blades will become dull. Replace your blades to be able to chop, churn, grind, mix, and shred food efficiently.
- Processing ingredients that are too hot. Some food processors have protection against overheating but hot ingredients can discolor and melt plastic parts (e.g., the blade)
- Skipping the side scraping. Taking the time to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl will make sure that all of the ingredients are processed and there’s no need to manually reincorporate certain foods back into your mix.
- Using ingredients that are too big. The food processor is a powerful appliance but in order to take care of it, chop down big chunks of food into smaller pieces to fit into the feeding tube.
- Using too much liquid. A majority of food processors’ micing bowls have indicating lines to tell you how much liquid can be poured into it. If your bowl does not have this indicator, never fill the bowl more than ⅓ full of liquid. Adding too much liquid into the food processor guarantees to splash liquid and can lead to seepage.
In order to make get the most use of your food processor, avoid the aforementioned mistakes. This way, the food processor will be able to efficiently aid in food preparation and continue to perform repetitive tasks that would be tiring if done by hand all the time.
What is the history of usage of food processors?
After Pierre Verdan, a French salesman for a catering company observed that his clients spent long periods of time shredding, chopping, and mixing in the kitchen, he invented the Robot Coupe. This simple solution was a bowl that had a revolving blade in its base and was the first food processor used in the 1960 catering industry. It was then designed with a commercial induction motor to become a more powerful food processor during the late 1960s.
In 1971, Le Magi-Mix was then exhibited in Paris which was a household version designed to be more compact. The Magimix is still available today but has its own motors manufactured and has a 30-year warranty, which makes it different from other food processors today.
Then in 1973, Carl Sontheimer refined the design of Le Magi-Mix which led to the production of the Cuisinart. This version of the Robot-Coup was developed for the domestic market which led to other manufacturers creating their own variations and answers to what a food processor is today.
Do the use cases of a food processor change based on type?
Yes, the use cases of a food processor change based on type. Not all food processors will be able to be used for the cases mentioned above. There are food processors designed for batches of food and will have more processing options (e.g., grating, shredding, and pureeing.) There are also models on the market which are designed for continuous feeding and heavy-duty processing. Commercial grade food processors are ideal for those in the food industry and will prepare food more efficiently.
Mini food processors are compact but can still process food well. This type of food processor may save space and money, but can only be used to process small batches of food.
If your countertop has the space, investing in a full-sized food processor means that you will also have a spectrum of blades and cutting disks to choose from. This food processor usually has the capacity to process 8 to 20 cups which is great for a variety of batches but will cost more compared to a mini food processor.
Which food processor is best for pesto?
The best food processor for pesto is one that has at least an 8 cup capacity and comes with a pulse function. Instead of the traditional method of crushing all of the ingredients by hand, using a food processor to make pesto sauce is time and energy-efficient. Pulse the garlic first then the basil, pine nuts, and olive oil to make pesto.
Does an immersion blender have more use cases than a food processor?
No, the food processor has more case uses than an immersion blender and wins the food processor vs. immersion blender debate. An immersion blender will do a great job processing wet, liquid recipes which means that it is perfect for whipping, pureeing, or blending. However, a food processor can be used for both liquid and solid food to chop, puree, shred, knead, blend grate, and mix ingredients.
What are the other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to a food processor?
Other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to a food processor include:
- Blender: This electrical appliance is used to mix ingredients that are either soft or liquid.
- Food Chopper: With manual power, a chopper forces ingredients through its stationary blades which cut down food.
- Grater: With slightly raised edges surrounding the holes on the grater, vegetables, spices, and different cheese are the types of food that can be grated with this kitchen tool.
- Meat Grinder: This appliance is used to mince or chop meat.
- Stand Mixer: Stand mixers also come in different sizes and are used to mix, knead, and roughly blend food.
These appliances have similar functions to a food processor but also have their specialized uses. Read about the 5 other uses of these 5 kitchen tools here.