Food mills – yes or no?

From G.K., 4 May 2010, food mills – are they worthwhile?

Q: Do you recommend a Miu Food Mill to make mashed potatoes, or tomato sauce? I don’t have one, but am thinking of getting one. Thanks!

A: Hi, and thanks for your question. I haven’t used that particular food mill, but I inherited an old food mill years ago. I don’t use it for much besides puréeing tomatoes or root vegetables, as a matter of fact, but I use them extensively for puréeing tomatoes so your proposed uses are right on as far as I’m concerned. I don’t actually use it all that often – I usually don’t prepare such large quantities of vegetable purées and usually pass those through a blender or ricer and then a tamis (a very fine flat sieve) – but if you are growing your own tomatoes and intend to put them up for sauce, this is a great way to process them. Also, with rare exceptions, potatoes should not be processed in blenders or mixers – such processing tends to make potato starch gluey – so the food mill or potato ricer is the only appropriate way to make fluffy, perfectly smooth, potato purée.

Food mills and ricers work by pressing the food with a flat blade through small holes – large enough for pulp and juice, but too small for seeds, skin, and longer fibers. That’s why many food mills come with different-sized disks. You can achieve a more or less smooth result depending on the size of the holes in the disk.

One issue I’ve encountered with food mills is an uneven motion, usually due to an ill-fitting disk. In those cases, the disk is not exactly the same shape as the body of the food mill. You should try the assembled mill without any contents – preferably in the store – to make sure you can turn the mill continuously without catching. If it catches or sticks when you’re not using it to process food, it surely will stick when you do use it, and will be useless to you. As I said, I haven’t tried the Miu food mill. The people at Cook’s Illustrated tested a number of food mills some time ago, though, and based on ease of use and efficiency, they recommended the Cusipro food mill. Mine is an ancient Moulinex and probably has worked perfectly for forty years. My mother in law bought me a new mill for the holidays a couple of years ago, and I never used it – the mechanism didn’t turn easily and the disks never really seemed to fit – and I wound up recycling it. So be sure to give your chosen mill a few turns before buying. The last thing you need is a piece of useless kitchen clutter.

Good luck and write back to share your experiences with the food mill!

2 thoughts on “Food mills – yes or no?

  1. Pingback: Down by the old mill. « The Upstart Kitchen

  2. Gerri Karonis says:

    Ordered the Cuisipro food mill and just used it for the first time. Project: tomato sauce. The gadget removed all the tomato seeds, peel, and woody pulp that can sometimes be found in tomatoes. Fresh tomato sauce with basil over angel hair – is there anything better? I can see myself using this for all kinds of things. Thanks for the tip!

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