A look at how this kitchen tool became a home-cook’s best friend in the American home from its beginnings in Parisian professional kitchens.
Food processors were first invented for use in Parisian restaurant kitchens. The first version was the Robert Coupe, a blender-like appliance but one with a shallow wide bowl that didn’t need liquid to mix the ingredients. Le Magi-Mix, introduced in 1972, was the home version of the Robot Coupe.
The following year, American engineer Carl Sontheimer introduced the Cuisinart, which was a redesigned version of the French Magi-Mix. Cuisinart only became a hit in American homes when kitchen bigwigs such as James Beard, Julia Child and Craig Claiborne started hailing the appliance as a miracle.
While most food processors run on electricity, if you want the convenience of being able to take your food processor with you no matter where you go, then you will want to choose one that is hand-operated. This means you can bring your food processor with you while you are camping or just bring it out into the back yard for when you are going to be cooking outside.
Being able to use your food processor wherever you are without having to worry about staying near to an electrical outlet will give you a lot of freedom when you are wanting to prep for cooking. Hand-operated food processors are best used when you need to do basic tasks such as chopping vegetables for salsa or a soup. They are not strong enough to be able to process large quantities of food at a time, or to handle tough vegetables or meat.
Probably the most common type of food processor available, it’s really easy to find electric versions in most stores. These do require an outlet to be able to work, but tend to be a lot more powerful than ones that are hand-operated. Most electric food processors have a feeding tube that will allow you to feed the food items you need processed down into the bowl where they will hit the blade and be chopped up.
These food processors can vary widely in how much they cost, which means you can usually find one in your price range. Of course, as they get more expensive, they will also have more features and options to choose from so that you can use it in more ways in your kitchen when preparing your meals.
1. Dishwasher-Safe Parts
This feature makes cleaning up after your food prep a breeze as you can easily take apart your food processor and put the parts into the dishwasher instead of having to clean them yourself. One of the main benefits of this in addition to saving you time and hassle in the kitchen is that you won’t put yourself at risk of being cut or otherwise injured by the sharp processor blade.
In addition, since it can sometimes be very tricky to completely clean your food processor, running it through the dishwasher is the best way to ensure there are not bits of raw meat or other foods left behind. The hot water and soap in the dishwasher will sanitize your parts so you can store them without worry.
2. Dough Blade
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Dough blades make it really easy to mix together any type of bread you want to make using your food processor. Using this small kitchen appliance will greatly cut down on the amount of time you have to spend mixing together and kneading your dough, but you don’t want to use a sharp blade to do this, as it will tear through the dough and the gluten will not be able to form. This will result in bread that won’t rise correctly and that tends to be a little tough.
To ensure your dough is mixed thoroughly but is not completely shredded in your food processor, you will want to make sure that you use a dough blade. This blade is generally plastic so it won’t cut through the dough that you are making, and since it is straighter than other blades, you won’t have to worry about it ruining the dough.
3. Interchangeable Blades
While it’s true that many home cooks don’t use their food processors to the best of their abilities, if you want to make sure you get the most out of this appliance, you will want to buy one that has multiple interchangeable blades. All of the different blades included with your food processor have specific jobs, and while you can get away with using just the main “S blade”, if you want to make the food processor work as hard as possible, then you will want to have multiple blade options. Some of the other common blades include a dough blade, julienne disc, shredding disc, and slicing disc.
4. Blender Compatible
Instead of buying a single-use appliance if you are running low on storage space in your kitchen, then you will greatly benefit from buying a food processor that can double as a blender as well. This combo not only will save space in your kitchen, but also will offer a lot of functions that you’re sure to enjoy and that will help you improve and vary your cooking. Make sure you look for one that is very powerful because this means it is less likely to fail or have other troubles in the future.
Being able to adjust the temperature of the food you are processing will ensure that you never put a cold meal on the table for dinner again. Most food processors do not offer this ability, and it will increase the price of the model you’re considering, but if you are concerned about your ability to keep meals warm when they are being processed, then this is a great option for you.
These food processors can often go from the countertop to the table and even into the refrigerator or the freezer. Because they are built to withstand extreme temperatures, you don’t ever have to worry about them cracking, leaking, or breaking whether they are in use or are storing food for the future.
6. Double Feed Tube
There are few things that will slow you down while you are in the kitchen quite like finding out that the food you wanted to put into the food processor through the feed tube is too large to fit. While you can stop your prep work and chop the food into smaller pieces, you won’t have to worry about this problem if you buy a food processor with a double feed tube.
This larger tube can easily accommodate much larger pieces of food than a traditional feed tube can. There is usually a smaller tube that fits inside the larger feed tube that you can easily remove when you need additional space for inserting food.
7. Multiple Speed Settings
If you want to get the most use out of your food processor, you will make sure that you choose one that has multiple speed settings for you to choose from when you are doing your meal prep. While you may think that you will be just fine with only one speed setting, not all foods should be processed at the same speed.
While one speed may work fine for many foods, there are some that will be completely pulverized at higher speeds. Being able to adjust the speed setting on your food processor will give you a lot of control over the quality of your final meal. Additionally, this is important if you are going to be using your different blades from time to time, as some will work better at lower speeds, while some are best used at higher speeds.
While it may take some trial and error to find out what works best for you, once you understand how to use the different speeds on your food processor, you will find that food prep and cooking not only is faster, but that it is also much more enjoyable.
Source: Home Depot
When you want to have a lot of control over how small you chop the food in your food processor, you will want to buy one that has a pulse feature. This will allow you to quickly turn on the food processor by pressing the pulse button and then turn it back off when you release the button. Instead of it running for an extended period of time and chopping your food too finely, when you use the pulse button, you will be able to quickly chop for just seconds at a time. This can let you break down the food you want to process without it getting mushy or even combine ingredients together without any hassle or frustration.
9. Nesting Work Bowl Included
If your food processor is too big for small jobs but you don’t want to have both a regular-sized one and a miniature one because you do not have the budget to buy two or the storage for both, you are better off buying a food processor that has a nesting work bowl included with the main processor. This smaller bowl will fit inside the larger bowl, but you will be able to use it in exactly the same way.
Having more than one option of what size bowl you want to use will allow you a lot of control over how much food you process at once. While trying to process a smaller amount of food can be very frustrating, when you have a nesting work bowl that you can put into your food processor, you can easily process any amount of food evenly and without any problems.
10. Touchpad Controls
While some food processors rely on a knob that you can turn to not only turn the processor on and off but also to adjust the speed at which it runs, if you want instant control over your food processor, then you will want to make sure you buy one that comes with touchpad controls. These make it incredibly easy to operate your food processor and there will be very little delay time in how quickly it responds to the control that you press. This means that there is a smaller risk of accidentally over or under-processing your food. Because these controls are much more sensitive than turning a knob, it’s easy to get the perfect food each time you use your food processor.
11. Travel Cups
Source: Home Depot
If you opt for a blender compatible food processor in order to save storage space in your kitchen, then you will want to make sure you buy one that has included travel cups. These cups make it really easy to create a smoothie or other blended item and then take it with you without having to dirty another cup. By being able to blend or process right into the travel cup you will save on cleanup time and ensure that you don’t have a mess to deal with when you get home from work.
12. BPA Free
For years, people have known that BPA in your plastics is bad for you and that you should do whatever you can to avoid storing your foods or preparing them in plastics that have BPA. While BPA has been used in plastic for years, the problem occurs when it seeps into the food or drinks that you store in your plastic.
Exposing yourself or your family to this chemical can lead to health problems, which is why so many people go out of their way to find plastic that does not contain BPA. When you buy a food processor that doesn’t have BPA in the plastic, you won’t have to worry about this leaching into your food, allowing you to process and to store food in your processor without any fear.
13. Liquid Max Line
One problem that you will likely run into if you try to use your food processor to process liquid ingredients or foods like soup is that the liquid will be too full and will actually splash out of the food processor bowl. This can cause major problems, especially if the liquid is hot, and may cause you to burn yourself. At the very least, this will likely cause a major mess. To avoid this problem entirely, it’s smart to buy a food processor that has a liquid max line to make sure you do not put liquid higher than that line.
14. Measurements on Bowl
Source: Home Depot
One of the main benefits of having a food processor is being able to shred or chop the right amount of ingredients for a recipe and then measure them without having to get out another measuring cup. If you want to be able to dump chopped ingredients directly from your food processor into your mixing bowl, then make sure you choose a food processor that has measurements on the side. This will let you quickly and easily tell how much of an ingredient you have so you can cook without slowing down. No matter what kind of recipe you’re making, being able to measure your ingredients directly on the side of the food processor will speed things up and make it a lot easier.
15. Storage Case
Source: Home Depot
Keeping your blades safe in one location and ensuring that you don’t accidentally cut yourself on them when you are digging through a kitchen drawer is very important. While you may think that this won’t be a problem, these blades are incredibly sharp and can quickly cut you if you accidentally bump into them and aren’t paying attention. For this reason, it’s smart to buy a food processor that comes with a storage case for the blades. Additionally, when you store your blades in a protective case, you won’t have to worry about them getting dull, as they will be protected from catching on other items in the drawer where you have them stored.
16. External Adjustable Lever
It’s really frustrating to start chopping or slicing with your food processor and then realize that the food isn’t the right size for your needs or your recipe. When you opt for a food processor that has an external adjustable lever, you can easily adjust the size and thickness of the items you are chopping and slicing. All you have to do is slide the level to the left or to the right to control the thickness of the food.
17. Feed Tube
A lot of mini food processors don’t have feed tubes. These aren’t just great for dropping in chunks of vegetables to be shredded or sliced, but also make it really easy to make sauces or to loosen up the food you’re mixing together. Even if you have a very small feed tube, it will come in handy because you can easily drizzle in olive oil or other liquid ingredients while the food processor is working.
This will allow the food you’re making to come together easily and quickly and without the hassle of having to take off the lid each time you want to add a little bit more. This is especially useful when you are making something that needs to have the oil integrated slowly and consistently so that it doesn’t break, as you won’t have to worry about adding too much at once.
Mini food processors make it a breeze to quickly chop up small amounts of ingredients or food without having to struggle with a larger food processor. Very small amounts in a large food processor often won’t process the way you need it to, but using a mini food processor ensures that everything is chopped the way you want it to be. Unfortunately, these food processors tend to have a few drawbacks, including the fact that they do not hold a lot of anything at once.
This can make you have to process in batches if you attempt to fill them with too much food. They generally do not have a feed tube, so you can’t add items to the food processor while it is running, and there aren’t different speeds to choose from. However, due to their small size for storage and ease of use, a lot of people have mini food processors in addition to larger ones.
While many people think that a medium food processor is going to be the perfect size for them as it will be a little bit bigger than a mini so they can process large amounts of food at one time but it won’t take up as much room as a large food processor, they often run into frustration when choosing this size. Unfortunately, medium-sized food processors aren’t always big or small enough to be very useful. Because you can’t process a lot of food at once, you are likely to be frustrated with having to process in batches, and they are too big to easily handle small amounts the way a mini food processor can.
Large food processors generally hold more than 10 cups of food and are great if you love to entertain, have a big family, or simply cook a lot. The problem with these large food processors is that you can run into problems if you are going to be processing smaller amounts of food, as they will have difficulty working properly if they do not have enough food in them.
However, you can easily make large recipes, prep more than one loaf of bread at a time, and shred and slide tons of vegetables at once without having to remove the bowl from the unit and dump it out. This makes it really easy for anyone to quickly process large amounts without having to worry about whether or not the food processor will be overfilled or if the food will try to come out from under the lid because it is packed too tightly inside.