Mashed potatoes are traditionally made with a masher or electric beater to create that light, whipped texture everyone at the dinner table loves. However, with these methods, it can be hard to create a perfectly even texture that many chefs desire. These tools often leave chunks of potato or traces of potato skin in the final mixture.
For that even, smooth, but still light and fluffy texture, that everyone craves out of their mashed potato batch, it’s worth it to try using a food mill instead. This unique tool has been used in professional kitchens and homes for years for all kinds of dishes, from tomato sauce to mashed potatoes!
What is a Food Mill?
A food mill is a kitchen tool that produces fine flakes of whatever food you put through it. It consists of 3 parts, including a crank with a bent metal blade, which does most of the work, various sized disks with holes, and a slanted bowl. The bowl also usually has a few non-slip feet as well.
The blades are usually made out of stainless steel, and since you mostly use it for soft vegetables or other soft foods, you can count on these blades to stay sharp for a long period of time. The bowl is also usually stainless steel, plastic, or aluminum. All are super easy to clean, and these different materials usually account for the potential difference in price. Food mills can range from about $20 to $100, so there’s one out there to fit any budget.
So, how does it work? By inserting the disk into the bottom of the bottomless bowl, and the blade with the crank on top, you create the perfect manual pureeing machine. Assemble the mill, place a bowl underneath, place your vegetables into the bowl, and use the crank to make the blade to simultaneously chop the vegetables and push them through the holes into the disk. This will create a perfectly even puree in the bowl below. If any food gets stuck or doesn’t go through the sieve, you can reverse the crank motion to get at it at a different angle.
Obviously, there are some great advantages to using this food mill method over others. It requires far less work than a manual masher, and creates a more even texture than a masher would as well. However, since it’s still a manual tool, you save on electricity too.
It also only takes a few minutes to make a batch. And since the discs come in many different sizes, you have a lot of control over how big of a batch you’d like to make, and whether you want the potatoes to come out heavier or lighter in texture (heavier would require larger holes in the discs, lighter would mean smaller holes).
Because the final product is free from lumps, this is a great way to make mashed potatoes for seniors with dementia or dysphagia.
Now, along with those advantages, there are some drawbacks to this method as well. It’s not quite as easy to use as an electric beater, since it does require some elbow grease to operate. It’s also not as fast of a method as an electric beater, even though it only takes a few minutes. If you’re in a hurry, or making a large batch, this may be an issue for you.
Here’s a simple, yet absolutely delicious, mashed potato recipe that you can use with your food mill. It was featured in the New York Times, and will only take about 40 minutes.
- 9 peeled cloves of garlic
- 6 large potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into quarters (preferably Russet or Yukon gold)
- 1 ½ teaspoons of salt
- 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1 cup of whole milk
- Freshly ground black pepper
- To add fluff and get rid of any moisture, place garlic and potatoes into a large saucepan and cover with water. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer the potatoes for about 15 minutes, or until they are tender in texture. Drain the potatoes and garlic, then put them back into the saucepan over low heat, shaking until all moisture is evaporated.
- Separately, in another saucepan, melt the butter and milk together.
- Use the food mill to push the potatoes and garlic through until you get a smooth puree. Add milk and butter mixture to the bowl and mix until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Simple enough, right? This simple recipe creates a delicious batch of mashed that is sure to please everyone at your table. The texture created here is light and fluffy, but the delicious, heavy ingredients make it substantial enough to satisfy everyone.
Summary and Sources
Food mills are great kitchen tools to have on hand because they’re affordable, easy to operate, and create perfect purees every time for a wide range of dishes – especially mashed potatoes!
Do you have any special uses you for your food mill you’d like to share? Comment below.
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