Electric Food Mill
© Denzil Green
Food Mill is tool that you use to both purée and strain soft or already-cooked foods.
They come with interchangeable milling disks, sometimes referred to as “screens”, with each having different kinds and sizes of holes in them. Some come with special disks for berries. Some models let you purchase additional, speciality disks.
A Food Mill is meant to rest over a bowl. It has a crank handle on it. You put the food in it. The food gets turned around on the disk while being pushed down through the holes in it.
How good a quality of Food Mill you should pay for depends on how often you think you’ll use it. The price varies based on:
- material they are made out of – stainless steel or plastic, aluminum covered with chrome;
- if they come with interchangeable disks and if so, how many;
- some have a “wire bar” that brushes across the bottom to clear away stuff;
- tension adjustment screw or knob on the bottom adjusts the tension so that the paddle is close to the disk;
- can be like a bowl with a screen at the bottom: a handle turns a paddle inside the bowl, pressing it through;
- can be like a meat grinder, food goes in the top, a screw pulls it down and pushes it through the screen;
- some clamp to a counter.
You can get very small ones designed for making portions of baby food; they’re even called “Baby Food Food Mills.”
You can buy food mill attachments for some food processors.
Many think a Food Mill will do everything a Ricer will do, and more, making it a more versatile tool that is likely to be used more often. Still, many Food Mills languish in the back of cupboards.
A chinoise will purée more finely.
What you are putting through needs to be relatively soft;
Pieces of food need to be small enough so that they can get caught by the turning disk;
Peel will get trapped in and clog up the disk;
Food can just get pushed around inside the mill instead of passing through it (some mills have a fixed blade in them that prevents food from simply spinning around inside);
The holes easily plug up, meaning you are constantly stopping and scraping them clean. With higher capacity ones, you don’t have to do this as often;
Anything put through a food mill comes out pretty much uniformly smooth. Don’t expect to be able to have any kind of coarse or uneven texture, even where desirable;
Raw tomatoes are hard to push through;
Can strain out seeds and skin from items such as tomatoes and puréed chiles, out of berries for seedless jams;
Can be used for making fruit butters;
Puréeing vegetables for soup, gazpacho;
Many people like the quality of mashed potatoes made by being pressed through a food mill. A few turns should get 1 potato through.
Some think a Food Mill is easier to clean than a food processor. You just run water through it, and maybe use a dish-washing brush if you have one.
Ones that are aluminum covered with chrome can’t go through a dishwasher; plastic and stainless ones can.
If food gets stuck or just spins, try reversing direction, or if that fails, use a rubber spatula to clean it out. You can put the waste through a second time to try to get more out of it.