Buying guide: FOOD PROCESSOR
The ultimate in kitchen efficiency - the food processor, takes over many of the most labor-intensive cooking tasks; from cutting vegetables to mincing meat and everything in-between, food processors are timesavers. They’re more accurate and quicker than even the most experienced chefs.
In addition to saving time and effort, the food processor also makes your kitchen less cluttered. The various available attachments, blades, and discs can be switched around giving food processors even more versatile. Juicers, whisks, mini-choppers, or blender carafe attachments can expand the main functions of food processors to replace many common kitchen appliances. Most food processors will perform grating, shredding, slicing, chopping, using the standard attachments that are included with the machine. These are the S-shaped blade -- also known as a sabatier blade -- and shredding and slicing discs.
How it Works
All food processors are made up of three parts - a motor, a work bowl with a lid, and a feed tube. The motor, being the heaviest part, is located towards the base. Besides being unavoidable, this weight also has the positive effect of making the devices more stable. The work bowl is fitted onto the motor driven shaft and secured in place usually with a rotating lock. Once the appropriated blade has been fitted onto the motor shaft. (The sabatier blade is situated near the base of the work bowl, while discs are attached at the top of the bowl, near the feed tube). A lid, that includes the feed tube, is then twist-locked into place covering the work bowl. Food to be processed is placed into a feed tube with a plunger, to avoid damage to the ol’ digits.
What to look for in a food processor
Taking note of the number of food processors in the market, it is necessary to be aware of the various features offered by the food processor before deciding on the one that suits your needs. We have listed below the main features you need to consider when buying a food processor:
- Size: Food processors come in three main sizes – mini, compact, and full. Mini size food processors have a capacity of 2 to 5 cups, compact size bowls, 5 to 7 cups, and full size bowls, 9 to 14 cups. For a normal family, a compact food processor is sufficient. For commercial uses, food processors are available that have a 20-cup capacity, or accept a food chute that can feed a into a bowl size of your choosing.
- Material of the blades: There are certain food processors that have hardened plastic blades. These blades are, of course, not as sharp as metal blades, and also do not have the durability that metal offers. Ceramic blades are the sharpest by far, but are the most susceptible to damage and the most expensive. Therefore, it is better to buy a food processor that includes metal blades.
- Available blades and attachments:
- A dough blade - This blade is made of plastic or metal and has straighter (less curved) paddles than the sabatier blade. You use this to make dough for bread and pizza.
- An egg whip - This attachment has two straight arms with large open paddles at the ends. You use this to beat egg whites and whipping cream, incorporating sufficient air to ensure a fluffy end product.
- A julienne disc - This piece has a row of protruding, short, sharp teeth. You use this to cut food into long, thin matchsticks.
- A French fry disc - This is similar to the julienne disc but yields larger, fatter pieces.
- A citrus juicer - This is a dome-shaped attachment that fits on top of the shaft and turns to squeeze the juice from oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, etc.
- A non-citrus juicer - This purees fruits and vegetables introduced into the feed tube, collecting the pulp in the middle and straining the juice into the bottom of the bowl.
- Controls: Food processors all share a similar set of controls, these most often consist of on, off and pulse controls, in either push-button, switch, or electronics touchpad panel. Some machines are fitted with a variable speed control dial, giving cooks very precise control over prep work.
Making the right decision
Check out various food processors available on www.etronics.com. Look for food processors and related accessories in different price ranges: $50 - $100, $100 - $200, $200 - $300. Kitchenaid has a great selection of machines and is one of the key brands in the industy.