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Made to slice, chop, grind, puree, and more, food processors are kitchen doers and the nearest thing so far to a sci-fi style food preparation robot. But until then, you can rely on a handy food processor.
But how can you find one?
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Buy a food processor with a size or capacity that fits your recipe requirements. But do remember that a manufacturer’s listed bowl size may not be the exact amount of ingredients you can add simultaneously. Processors generally hold a cup less or two, and even less for liquids.
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In any case, in the world of food processors, size does make a difference. If it’s too small, you’ll end up not using the machine; if it’s too big, you’ll have an appliance consuming more counter space than necessary. If you shop around, you will find three sets of processors based on capacity:
> Mini prep (3-4 cups) – good for tiny individual tasks, like chopping veggies or making sauces
> Mid-size (7-9 cups) – works like the mini-prep type but bigger
> Large (11-13 cups) – adequate for a whole family’s needs
> Extra large (14-20) – best for catering and other large scale food preparations
The second most crucial consideration when buying a food processor is its motor power. For an average size machine, look for 400 watts; for anything bigger, power should not be lower than 750 watts.
Bigger jobs naturally need more power. Additionally, a heavy base is a good design element as it means more stability while the machine is on the counter during operation.
Because food processors work very fast, you don’t really more controls than On/Off and Pulse. High-low speeds may be available with small choppers, and a “dough” setting with more expensive machines.
Other Important Elements
Two very helpful design features might want to have are a line on the mixing bowl to help with measurements, and covered touch pads that make for easier cleaning and wipe-down. Perhaps most importantly, you need to find something a wide feeder tube, or that chute where ingredients go down into the machine.
Bigger chutes means less pre-cutting of large vegetables like potatoes or squash. A plastic food pusher, also called a prod, is included as well. You surely don’t want to use your fingers instead!
Considering how dangerous sharp, buzzing knife blades can be, the best food processors will never start working if either the lid or base is not properly locked into position. In other words, look for locks!
Lastly, an S-shaped metal chopping blade is standard for most food processors, but more expensive models could also offer whisks, juicer attachments, a blunt blade for kneading dough and assorted cutting discs, including a slicing/shredding disc.