Finding the right food processor can be difficult. There are a ton of different models, with all sorts of different features, and looking through a catalog of them, they slowly start to blur into one another. So how do you decide which one to buy? How do you determine which one is the best? Well, it comes down to what you need, what kind of kitchen you have, and what you want to do. Here are some important things to keep in mind when shopping for a new food processor.
What is a Food Processor?
Commonly mistaken for a blender, a food processor is a kitchen appliance used for preparing food. They use a combination of an electric motor and rotating blades and disks to prepare food. Typically, they have a base unit which houses the motor. Next to or on top of this is usually a clear plastic bowl or chamber for the food and the rotating blades on the bottom. The blades can sometimes be replaced with disks at the top of the chamber for some tasks.
What Can a Food Processor Do?
- Slice/Chop Vegetables
- Grind Items Like Nuts, Seeds, Meat, or Dried Fruit
- Shred or Grate Cheese or Vegetables
- Mix and Knead Dough
What Makes a Food Processor Different From a Blender?
Food processors are commonly mistaken for or confused with blenders. True, they both use blades to chop and grind food ingredients, however, there is one key difference and a couple small differences.
- Blenders Require Liquid
To operate a blender, you have to use both food ingredients and a liquid, typically water or milk products. If you try to use a blender without liquid, it will simply jam up, or fail to properly slice or mix the ingredients. A food processor, by contrast, requires no liquid to function. You can still use liquid to make drinks or mixes, but you can also process dry products like nuts and meats.
- Food Processors Have Interchangeable Blades and Disks
While both of these products use bottom mounted blades to chop and grind food, blenders only have fixed blades. A food processor can use different blades, or even switch to top-mounted disks for different foods.
- Different Containers
Blender containers are only really suited for liquids like smoothies, milkshakes, and purees. A food processor, while able to make these as well, is also suited for dry foods. That’s why a food processor container is wider and shorter, as compared to the tall narrow containers of a blender.
How to Decide Which Food Processor to Buy
There are a couple different factors to consider before purchasing a food processor. First of all, it’s important to determine why you want or need a food processor. Someone buying a food processor for their home kitchen is going to have very different concerns than someone purchasing one for their restaurant.
For those at home, you’ll probably want to stick to a tighter budget and will want to leave off some of the more heavy-duty features. For businesses, you’ll want to make sure you get a model that is durable enough to withstand frequent and regular use, and one which comes with attachments included so it can handle all the different tasks you need it for. Before you buy, read some reviews and guides from a trusted source to make sure you buy a food processor that has all the features reported.
Here are the features to keep in mind when browsing food processors.
- Basic Features
There are some features which are standard across most food processors. Most food processors only have one motor speed (though the set speed can vary between brands and models), a feed tube for easily adding ingredients, and a large bowl or container. Regardless of why you need a food processor, there are some basic things you’ll want to look for.
- Large Capacity
Try to find a processor with a capacity of at least 9 cups. For a business, you might even want the 20-cup capacity. Anything less is inefficient.
- Wide Feed Tube
Small tubes can often jam up with larger or sticky ingredients. Your processor should come with a ‘pusher’, which you use to safely push through any ingredients that get stuck, but a larger tube can prevent a lot of these issues.
- Safety Features
Make sure that your container can lock onto the base of the unit, make sure it comes with a pusher for the feed tube, and make sure the blades are secure.
- Simple Controls
Some units come with complex and varied speeds. This can be confusing and is not necessarily important. All you need is a switch for on/off, and a pulse function for tougher ingredients.
Most processors only have one set speed and a pulse function. However, the set speed can vary from unit to unit. Make sure that the model you buy has enough power to cut through thicker and tougher ingredients like meat and stringy vegetables like carrots. 600 watts is a good minimum power level, and anything stronger just makes it easier.
You’ll want to make sure your processor comes with all the attachments you need for what you want to do. If you’re just going to be chopping nuts, you probably won’t need anything extra. But if you are planning on using your food processor for many different things, you’ll want a model that comes equipped and ready for every situation.
To keep the price down, try to find a product that only has features you plan on using. The cheapest option isn’t always the best though. To get the most bang for your buck, find a reasonably priced reliable model within your price range.