What should I expect it to be able to do (and not do?)


Many negative reviews can be easily explained by a lack understanding on the part of the reviewer. A food processor won't automatically make you a gourmet chef. It does require a certain level of skill and experience. Don't get frustrated or overwhelmed, this skill is easily attained. Most of it boils down to knowing what should and shouldn't be processed, and mastering the pulse button. A good manual such as The Food Processor Bible can help. It can be difficult to learn which kitchen tool is best suited to which task. There are conflicting views amongst cooks which only adds to the confusion. Here are some basic guidelines to help provide realistic expectations for your new food processor.

In capable hands you can expect a food processor to shred cheese or vegetables, emulsify dressings and mayo, slice most food items, and chop almost anything. A food processor can mix together ingredients for a bread dough and then knead it for you. It can expertly cut the fat into a pie crust or other pastry dough. You can purée most items. The free recipes provided on this site can give you a good idea of what tasks a food processor is best suited for.

There are a few tasks the food processor can perform, although not optimally. These include puréeing soup and grinding meats. A food processor will easily purée the soup, however it can't handle large amounts of liquids so it will have to be split into smaller batches. Most food processors can only be filled about halfway with liquids, so you will need a 12 cup machine to blend 6 cups of soup. In most cases a blender is the best tool for liquefying soups (an immersion blender can be used right in the pot you are cooking in.)

Meats can technically be processed, depending on the desired results although a meat grinder is usually the best tool for that task. A chicken liver pâté benefits from the smooth purée of a food processor. A hearty chili is enhanced by large chunks of almost ground beef. However, getting anything between those two consistencies is tricky at best. Meat ground by means of a food processor does tend to get mushy when brought past the chunky stage. A "mushy" texture is great for homemade gyros, some dumpling fillings or certain types of homemade sausages. It will likely not be appreciated in burgers, meatloaf or most typical ground meat applications. At the other end of the spectrum, while a chunkier texture can be great in stews and some soups, you can end up with some rough, chewy pieces in a recipe that doesn't involve a long, slow cooking process. So when deciding if the food processor is right for grinding meat, think about the texture you want to end up with.

There are some tasks that should NEVER be performed by your food processor. These include (but are not limited to) grinding spices and chopping ice. Either task is way too rough for the food processor blade. As a general rule,if you wouldn't use your chef's knife for an item because it's too hard, don't expect your food processor blade to fare any better. What to use? A mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder work well for the spices. A blender is the perfect tool for the ice.

It is important to remember even with tasks the food processor is designed for, performance will depend on the quality of the machine. A well powered motor will always provide more consistent and desirable results. For more information on how to find the best food processor for you, see our Food Processor Buying Guide and check out the consumer reviews.

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