A Potato Ricer is reminiscent of a giant garlic crusher. It has a basket on it, in which you put your cooked potato. Then, you close the other part of the ricer, which is like a plunger, down on it and squeeze the two handles together. The potato gets pressed, causing it to be extruded through the holes at the bottom in strands. The strands break into rice-like pieces.
The baskets are generally round, about 3 to 4 inches (7 1/2 to 10 cm) wide, or rectangular with a V-shaped bottom, with the pressed item coming out through both sides of the V. Standard models will do one potato at a time, though you can get ones with larger baskets.
Some models come with multiple disks that have different hole sizes, that you can swap in as needed. For instance, large-holed plates can be used to make spaetzle. Some of those models, though, have the problem that the disk becomes dislodged after each press, and it can be very fiddly and time-consuming having to reset the disk in place each time.
Potato Ricers also come as solid, one-piece models -- they look the kind of potato masher that has holes in it, except with a bent handle.
When purchasing one, choose a hefty, sturdy model that can stand up to brute force, Some less-expensive metal ones, such as those made out of aluminum, tend to bend; and plastic ones can be just not sturdy enough in general.
Some have comfortable rubberized handles for you to hold them with; some are designed to straddle and rest across a bowl or pot, making it easier to press down.
Some Potato Ricers are not dishwasher safe, particularly models that are coated in tin. Dishwasher safe ones will usually be made out of stainless steel. It is best to soak Potato Ricers right away after use, because few things dry as hard as potato starch.
Make sure the tinned ones are completely dried before putting them away so that they don't rust.
Other Uses for Potato Ricers
- Press water out of cooked greens such as spinach before using them as a filling in quiche, stuffed pasta, lasagne, enchiladas, crepes;
- Press hard-boiled eggs for egg salad sandwiches;
- Press liver through to make chopped liver;
- A press for roasted garlic heads;
- A press to make baby food;
- Put items such as carrots, parsnip, sweet potatoes, turnips, yams, etc through to mash them.
Many people swear by making mashed potato by pressing the potatoes through a Potato Ricer. You can boil potatoes unpeeled, and then press them through. The peel will get caught in the ricer and the potato will come through. After about three potatoes, though, you'll need to open it and scrape away the trapped potato peel, and then continue. Some models will not work with unpeeled potatoes.
Fans say this makes very light, fully mashed potatoes because not as much of their starch gets released. It is certainly not as fast, though, for making a large quantity of mashed potato as a plain old potato masher would be -- you can pretty much just about only do 1 potato at a time. And if you start off with the right potatoes for making mashed from, they should turn out light and fluffy anyway with a masher. Other people say that they don't like the texture of mashed potato made with a ricer.
Instead of a ricer, you can put the food through a food mill.