A food processor is a great option for anyone looking to spend more time at the dinner table and less time on tasks like using a knife to chop, slice, dice or spoon mixing dips. Food processors can handle tasks such as chopping vegetables for salsa, creating a creamy pesto, mincing herbs for custom seasonings and even pureeing fruits and vegetables into baby food, plus so much more.
You may be asking yourself, why not just use my mixer as a food processor to save space and money? The answer is, while there's some overlap, mixers and food processors perform different functions. Mixers are designed to use blade attachments with a bowl to mix ingredients for baking and a food processor's blade is designed to handle a wide variety of food preparation, including mixing ingredients.
Choosing a Food Processor
When selecting the best food processor for you, there are a few key design elements to consider, which include weight, wide feed tubes, safety features, versatility, capacity and speeds. Choose a design with a heavy chassis so when the blades are spinning it won't "walk" on the counter. Make sure it has a wide feed tube because if you're stopping to cut up food due to the feed tube not being large enough, you're not getting the time-savings benefits a food processor offers. Make sure the bowl safely locks into the base, the cover locks securely to the top of the bowl, and the blades cannot turn until the entire processor is locked into place. Versatility is another benefit of a food processor. Check to see if it either comes with extra blades of different sizes and styles or that it will accept them. Food processors range in capacity from small, three-cup units, which are intended for chopping small amounts of food, to large 20-cup professional-grade units that have additional speeds, functions and attachments. If you typically cook for one to three people, a small food processor might suffice. For families of four to six people, look for a medium-sized, six- to eight-cup capacity unit. If you cook for groups of seven or more, you'll want to consider a larger unit with 10 or more cups of capacity. Many people keep a small, three-cup food processor handy for everyday use and a larger unit for special needs. Most food processors have one, two or three speeds as well as a very helpful pulse speed function. This function helps ensure that you don't over-process your food by letting you control the chopping—one push at a time.
Food Processor Blades and Attachments
Many food processors include several different blade designs. Metal blades hold their sharpness longer than other materials, and don't need to be replaced as often. Below are some food processor blade designs and their uses. The S-shaped blade, also known as a Sabatier blade, is a standard attachment for chopping and mincing food. It consists of two small, curved blades, which are arranged on opposite sides of the central pillar. Shredding discs include specialized features that let you shred an array of vegetables. Slicing discs are specialized blades that allow foods like carrots or cucumbers to pass through while slicing them into consistent sizes. The dough blade is made of plastic or metal and has straighter paddles to make dough for bread and pizza. The egg whip features long, straight paddles that are used to beat items like eggs and cream until fluffy. Julienne and French fry discs are used to cut food into matchstick or French fry sized portions. A citrus juicer attachment is used to squeeze juice from oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit.