Food Processor Buying Guide
The food processor has been a household staple for decades, but it is a relatively new appliance in comparison with other kitchen appliances that have been used in one form or another for hundreds or even thousands of years. The very first food processor was introduced in 1946. It was created by a German company called ElectroStar and it featured multiple accessories and could do everything from slice bread to chewing up food like carrots and celery, as well as spin milk in a centrifuge and dish up ice cream. The United States didn’t see the food processor until the early 70’s with well-known appliance company Cuisinart introducing the first model called the Magimix 1800. Now, food processors are used in catering, in commercial kitchens and in households all across the United States.
What is a Food Processor?
What exactly is a food processor anyway? A more apt name for this appliance, which has made it much easier to prepare meals that require cutting, grating or dicing, is a “food chopper” because that’s pretty much what a food processor does. Of course, there are different kinds of chopping that need done for various types of food or certain kinds of meals, but many food processors allow for this with different speeds, blades or accessories.
A food processor is basically a container equipped with spinning blades or discs that work thanks to an electric motor. Food processors are kissing cousins to blenders, but the main difference is that food processors are intended to be a much more precise and versatile tool than a blender, so the blades and discs that are used to cut food can be changed out depending upon what you are cutting and how you want to cut it.
Types of Food Processors on the Market
There are a few different types of food processors on the market today. Of course, many appliances that go by other names actually are food processors themselves with a more singular purpose and while food processors exist that pretty much do everything, many of the appliances that you are more familiar with by another name are considered food processors as well.
Blenders: Blenders are appliances that are intended to take the ingredients fed to them and turn them into a liquid. Blenders basically break everything down into the smallest parts possibly and combine them in a liquid form.
Juicers: This type of food processor has the sole purpose of separating fruit pulp from the juice. Juicers have become more popular in the last decade or so thanks to the trend of juicing for weight loss.
Mandolines: Mandolines are tools that use an automatic or manual blade to slice and dice, with the food item usually being passed over the blade multiple times. A good example is the meat slicer that the deli of your local grocery store uses to slice your meat and cheese, although the process is not limited to just those two items.
Hand-Operated Choppers & Graters: Before there was electricity, people used knives, choppers and graters. Most people are familiar with hand graters for cheese, carrots and other foods, as many kitchens have one even today. There are also chopping and dicing tools that operate with a spring blade to cut food faster.
Grinders: Grinders are kind of in a class by themselves because there are several different types of grinder that depend upon what type of food you are grinding. There are coffee grinders, meat grinders and vegetable grinders just to name a few.
True Food Processors: True food processors are those that have changeable blades, discs and other accessories that allow you to chop, grind, cut or dice many different types of foods. Although there are some models that are relatively inexpensive, most good food processors are more expensive, particularly if they come with a lot of accessories and are high quality.
Best Brands of Food Processors to Buy
So, what are the best brands of food processors to buy? This is a difficult question to answer because every brand has some models that are very well-made and some that aren’t quite so popular. But there are a few brands that are better than others and have many different models that are highly regarded by those that have used them. Here are a few brands that you should be considering if you are thinking about buying a food processor.
The original brand that introduced the food processor to the United States is still one of the best. The Cuisinart Elite is one of the top-rated food processor models on the market today. It excels at chopping and dicing and it kneads dough like a pro.
Vitamix doesn’t have very many models on the market but the blenders and food processors that they do have are some of the best-loved appliances available today. Vitamix food processors can do no less than fifty different food-related tasks and they aren’t priced that high for as good as they are.
The KitchenAid brand is one of the oldest and most popular brands, not just in food processors but for all sorts of kitchen products, from appliances large and small to bakeware, cookware and utensils. They have been in business since 1919.
Kenwood Limited also makes some pretty highly rated food processors as well as many other household products. Not to be confused with the Kenwood home electronics brand.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Food Processor
When you are trying to decide what food processor to buy there are a few things that you should keep in mind so that you have a basis for comparison. First, you need to know what you are going to use it for before you even start looking because some of these factors will determine what you can use your processor for. Here are some things that you need to look at when weighing your purchase options.
Blades: You want to make sure that you have all of the blades and discs that you need for whatever foods you are planning to use with the processor. You should be able to see on the box or with a quick online search what sort of foods the processor can handle.
Wattage: Food processing doesn’t require a lot of power, but if you are planning to do other things with your processor like mix dough you are going to want enough power to do so.
Capacity: The capacity of the bowl is something that will depend on how many people you are planning to feed. A good rule of thumb is to measure 2-3 cups for each member of the family. You can get away with two cups for children but estimate three for adults. So, for a family of four, you want a capacity of about ten cups.
Functions & Controls: You’ll want to decide beforehand what you plan to do with your food processor so you can decide what kind of functionality it needs. Some only have a few functions and some models can do dozens of different things. As for the controls, just make sure that it isn’t too difficult to make work.
Cleaning: Finally, you’ll want to make sure that it can be cleaned easily, and that most of the parts are dishwasher safe. You’ll also want to be able to take it apart and put it back together easily or else it will be a huge pain whenever you need to clean it.