Many times I’ve been asked by people what a food mill does when they have other grinders like the mortar and pestle and blender at home. I have always told them that the food mill also has its important uses, and this is usually based on recipes and what you intend to cook.
Let’s get into the question, what does a food mill do then? A food mill is simply a kitchen utensil used for mashing and sieving soft foods. A food mill can also be seen as a mash-up of an electric blender/food processor and a sieve as it bridges the gap between the two.
It is a part strainer, part masher equipment and can be used for both hot or cold food. The food mill grinds and purees foods like sauces, mashed potatoes, etc. to produce a smooth grind free from seed, skin, or stems. There are many varieties of the manual and the electric food mill.
How does a food mill work?
A typical food mill is first assembled by putting the chosen perforated disc in the bowl and securing the hand crank with the blade on the bowl. The mechanism that gives you that pureed food, sauce, or soup works as the food mill crushes or mashes the food by forcing the food through the perforated disc.
The perforated disc acts as the strainer which in turn separates any seed, skin, or core from the food that is being crushed. To crush or mash the food, for a manual food mill the hand crank should be rotated while for an electric food mill, the motor does the work.
Parts of a food mill
A typical food mill consists of three parts, the bowl, a crank with a metal blade, and a plate/disc with holes(this acts as the sieve too). Different varieties of food mills exist and the differences can also be seen in the parts.
Some food mill has a larger role capacity while others are medium or small. While most food mills are manually operated with the hand crank, an electric food mill exists but a motor is put instead of a crank.
Some food mills come with an interchangeable disc like the coarse, medium, or fine disc giving you the option of milling the desired texture and consistency you want.
A food mill does quite a lot of things. Some of the things a food mill can do are listed out below. Although most food mills come with three discs, keep in mind that depending on the type of food mill you purchase, you might need to buy an extra interchangeable disc to be able to mill different varieties of food as some food mills do not come with more than one.
- It can be used to remove the seeds and skin from fruits such as tomatoes, apples for applesauce. This is great when you have a lot of tomatoes to can and you do not have to worry about any after preservatives a store-bought one would have.
- It can be used to make jams or jellies from berries and other fruits. Fruit butter can also be made with the food mill.
- Making of soup is simplified as it can puree vegetables for soup and it even mills baby food.
- The texture you get while mashing potatoes with a food mill beats what a potato mashed would do.
Food mill substitutes
At this point we have ascertained that a food mill is a piece of vital kitchen equipment but what will you do when you do not have it when you need it. Although the food mill is important, it is not a hundred percent indispensable as there are a few alternatives tools to replace your food mills with, and at least one of these alternatives can be found in your kitchen.
There might be some additional steps like peeling, seeding, etc that should be done prior to milling but not to worry as these alternatives will give a similar result that a food mill would.
Food processor as an alternative to a food mill
The food processor is that equipment that can be found in the Most modern kitchens these days. The food processor easily and quickly chops, slices, shreds, grinds, and purees almost any food. The joint combo power of the food processor and the sieve can puree just about any food.
You can achieve a similar texture to the food mill would with the food processor by the fast pulsating mode and also the sharp blade. The food process combined with a sieve gives the desired texture. A puree with an even texture will be achieved with the sieve as it has a screening process from the food processor.
When you are using this substitute method, you have to keep in mind to make sure that you remove the seed and skin from vegetables and fruits. Before processing the food in the food processor you have to peel the skin and remove the seeds, this can be done using a fine-mesh strainer.
The food processor and strainer combo require electricity to work and this is awesome for people who do not want to use excess energy and time the manual food mill requires but the food processor can also be limiting.
To use the food processor, add in the fruit or vegetable to be milled and using the pulse button to mill the food.
In conclusion, a food processor can substitute a food mill if you do not own one.
- The food processor is not only can’t but it saves time too
- The food processor is a piece of easy equipment to handle
- It is flexible
- Electricity is required unlike the manual food mill
- The texture it gives is not as fine as that a food mill will produce
- The seeds and peels need to be removed manually
Blender as an alternative to a food mill
Like the food processor, the blender is another piece of equipment that is found in most modern kitchens. If you do not have a food processor around, you might have a blender and it is also a good alternative.
The blender like most people know is a kitchen appliance that is used to puree, emulsify or mix food and other stuff. The pulse option on the blender can be used to puree or mash your foods and vegetables.
A little something to note is that when using a blender to grind, it is actually faster than a regular food mill. A setback to this is that like the food processor and sieve combo, the seeds need to be removed and the skin peeked first before putting the food in the blender.
How to use the blender as a substitute
- Using a peeler, knife or fork, firstly peel the skin from the fruit or vegetable. remove the seeds too as this will let you achieve the desired texture you are looking for.
- Put the fruit or vegetable in the blender and using the high speed of the blender, pulse the food until it turns into a fine liquid.
- Pour it out of the blender and it is ready to use.
- The blender is way faster than the food mill and it also saves time too
- The puree the blender produces is very fine almost close to liquid form
- The blender line the food processor us easy to handle
- There is the minimal effort required when using the blender
- The blender is not mechanical and it requires electricity
- The skin of the fruit or vegetables needs to be peeled as well as the seeds are taken out manually.
The Hand mixer and cheese grater combination
This alternative to the food mill is a little bit more specific when it comes to the application. It also cannot be used to achieve different textures of processed food. Softer foods like potato, tomato can be processed with the cheese grater and hand mixer combo.
This works by scraping down your tomato, potatoes, or any other side food on the cheese grater. The hand mixer now does the work of whisking the already grated foods to achieve that smooth desired texture.
Commercial grade cheese heaters do not just so keep that in mind to purchase that type if you do not already own a cheese grater.
How to use the cheese grater and hand mixer combo as an alternative to a food mill
- Step one: before proceeding to grate, firstly boil down the ingredient so it becomes softer and in terms of consistency, cheese-like. This makes it work effectively
- Step two: After the fruit or vegetable is booked for a short time, take the cheese grater, and position it. Using the cheese grater, gently scrape down the tomatoes, potatoes, etc into a bowl.
- Step three: when you are done grating the ingredients, the hand mixer would be used next if you want to achieve a very fine texture. Using the hand mixer, whisk down the ingredients that you had grated until the desired texture is achieved.
- The operation is easy
- The texture you would get from the ingredient can be fine-tuned
- The hand mixer operation requires electricity so this combo is partly nit mechanical
- It also does require extra energy and time compared to the food mill
- It is limited when it comes to ingredients it can be used to mill
For potatoes, you need to be extra careful not to whisk or crush the potatoes too much so you would have a fluffier texture.
Potato ricer as an alternative to food mill
This is another good mill alternative that is ideal for when working with a small batch of potato. Most issues people have with a food mill is the countertop space it takes, the potato ricer is compact and it does not take up kitchen counter space making it ideal for people with limited space.
This potato ricer can be used on some vegetables to puree them as the mechanism of this alternative is relatively simple. A smoother puree can be created with the potato ricer when the potatoes or vegetable peeling are removed before processing.
As the name of the appliance implies, it mashes potatoes very well but it is not limited to only potatoes. The potato ricer works for squash, cooked tubers, other dense fruits line apples however juicer fruits like tomato and oranges do not work well with it.
Although the potato ricer is the best substitute for producing mashed potatoes, it can only process small amounts of potatoes at a time. A potato ricer is a perfect appliance for a beginner as it is easy to use and also compact.
How to use the potato ricer as a substitute for a food mill
- Step one: Cut the potato or vegetables into small batches making sure to peel and remove the seeds if any.
- Step two: load the potatoes or vegetable in small batches into the ricer hooper
- Step three: proceed to mash the food by pressing the handles.
- The potato ricer is also easy to handle
- It does not take up space as it is very compact
- Electricity is not required as the potatoes ricer is operated manually
- It is equally fast and time-saving
- You are still required to remove the peels and seed from the food.it needs to be done manually
- The application is quite limited
- The potato ricer cannot handle large volumes of potato or vegetable
A Strainer and wooden spoon
If by any chance you do not give any of the substitutes mentioned or you are just okay with the manual and prefer it over using electricity, this food mill alternative is what you need.
The food mill has a mechanical contraction that pushes the food to the milk for crushing and in the case of this substitute, the wooden spoon would be doing most of the work while the mesh strainer separates the pureed ones from the food giving you a uniform texture.
A little trick if you want to achieve a finer and creamier finish is choosing a finer mesh strainer. Also, note that this substitute will take much longer to finish as all the work is done without the use of any mechanical contraption but manually.
Like some of the substituted listed above, this one also required you to pre-process your fruits and vegetables by peeling and removal of seeds first. Getting consistent results can be a challenge as the results would depend heavily on the way you pressed down through the strainer.
The applicability of the strainer and wooden spoon is limited but it works best for tomato sauce recipes.
How to use the strainer and wooden spoon as a substitute for a food mill
- Step one: to get the best out of your puree, it is best to make sure that it is free from peels. start by peeling the fruits or vegetables and processing to remove seeds. Fresh Tomatoes can be blanched by putting them in boiling water for a minute and then transferring them immediately into cold water for another minute. thus names the peels come out easily.
- Step two: press down your ingredients through the fine mesh strainer using the wooden spoon. Continue doing this until you have reached the desired texture.
- This method is quite cheap
- Depending on the degree to how you press down, it can produce a fine puree
- You need to manually peel and remove the seeds first.
- It requires time and energy
- The application is limited
- The texture also cannot be fine-tuned.
If you are still looking to buy a food mill, here is a link to where you can purchase different arrays of the food mill. Click here