Tips on food processors

Food processors are a boon for avid cooks and bakers, as they significantly cut down preparation...

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Tips on food processors

Food processors are a boon for avid cooks and bakers, as they significantly cut down preparation time in many recipes. The appliances have containers ranging from 2- to 14-cup capacities and, depending on size and model, a range of blades for slicing, shredding, chopping and mixing. Some styles have several sizes of feeder tubes to control and direct food insertion, as well as lids to protect foods stored in the containers. There are various tips that will help you use a food processor to your best advantage.

Food temperature

All the metal blades and discs of food processors are razor-sharp and work best on firm or hard food. To avoid pulverizing soft foods and gumming up the cutting attachments, partially freeze foods before processing. Use the fine or medium shredding or slicing discs on semi-frozen soft cheese. To uniformly chop dried fruits, meat, poultry or chocolate, partially freeze them, attach the flat metal S-shaped blade in the bottom of the work bowl and process the food with on-and-off pulses until you attain the desired consistency.

Power considerations

Never underestimate the force of a food processor. It is much more powerful than a blender or stand mixer. If you simply turn on the processor with the metal blade attachment installed, chances are the food in the container will over-process and form an unusable gummy ball, so always start processing with on-and-off pulses. While a food processor is a helpful tool to mix yeast doughs and pie crusts, do not use it to make quick breads or pancakes, as they will over-mix and produce tough, leathery results.

Insertion hints

When using the upright slicing and shredding blades, stack the food firmly in the food chute, and place the food pushing tool on top of the ingredients before you engage the processor motor. Use a firm, steady pushing motion to create slices and shreds, which take a matter of seconds to produce. Regularly empty the food bowl to avoid compacting processed ingredients. When mincing small items such as garlic cloves or grinding hard cheeses such as Parmesan, attach the metal cutting blade to the machine bottom, place the lid on the work bowl, turn the machine on and drop the items into the bowl through the feed chute as the blade turns. This ensures even cutting and prevents the food from becoming stuck between the blade and the bottom of the container.

Wet and dry ingredients

When mixing doughs, batters or other recipes that contain wet and dry ingredients, combine the dry ingredients first with a few pulses, using the metal bottom blade. Slowly add the wet ingredients through the feed tube and pulse intermittently until they are fully incorporated into the dry ones. Frequently scrape the sides of the container to ensure thorough mixing.