Food processors and mixers versatile and powerful, meaning they can take on a number of food preparation tasks and handle product in greater capacities than manual preparation techniques.
A food processor has a central motor that drives a shaft to which a blade or other cutting implement is affixed. Food is either processed in a bowl for sauces, soups, or finely diced vegetables, or through a continuous feed chute that allows sliced or shredded vegetables to be ejected quickly into bins.
What to Look For When Purchasing a Commercial Food Processor:
Be sure to size your new food processor to jobs you think you will need it to do. If you overwork a processor by constantly exceeding its capacity, you will shorten its lifespan and effectiveness. Manufacturers list this information for each model. Some units have more than one bowl size, allowing you to change the capacity according to what you are processing. This is especially useful if you have medium and small size processing tasks. Variable speed units are more versatile and can handle foods of different densities.
Look for units that come with multiple attachments. The more attachments a unit has, the more food preparation tasks it can perform in your pub kitchen and the less ancillary kit you will have to buy.
Health and Safety features that prevent kitchen staff injury, especially with new staff or those unfamiliar with a particular piece of equipment are a must; with the most common feature being an automatic shut-off or “non-operation if open” feature.
Types of Food Processors
The most important factor in choosing the correct food processor is to select a machine that is right for the type and quantity of food you want to process. For maximum versatility a combination mixer and blender, is ideal, with emulsifying and liquefying options that can blend sauces and soups without too much aeration plus the normal chopping and grinding features of a food processor. Typically these are the Kenwood type of machines with the blender sitting atop the main bowl mixer.
Spiral or Planetary or Bowl mixers chop or grind relatively small amounts of core ingredients like garlic, shallots, or herbs. Combination models feature a variety of cutting blades and can perform multiple tasks, such as slicing, shredding, kneading dough, lemon juicing and julienne, plus normal chopping and grinding functions.
Vegetable preparation models have a continuous feed chute that allows you to chop, dice, shred, grate, or julienne large amounts of vegetables at a time, but unless you are a very high volume food outlet you will not ordinarily require one of these. One such machine you might consider is a potato rumbler if you have a great need for peeled potatoes every week.
There are plenty of hand driven mechanical devices still on the market for these tasks in smaller kitchens – for instance bean slicers and meat mincers – the ones your mum or granny used to use are still effective and labour saving devices albeit low tech.
Juicers are another invaluable food processor and are designed to specifically extract the juice from a variety of raw vegetables and fruit. They work by forcing the fruit over a spinning grating plate where the liquid juice is sent in one direction and the pulp or dry flesh is sent to another. Ideal for smoothies, fresh juice and cocktails alike the heavier duty the machine the more stubborn the type of food they will juice.
Heavy duty floor mixers and food processors are designed for large operations and can mix, blend, or process up to 1,200 lbs. per hour – the sort of machine that is used in a bakery for instance.
Combination Machines are beginning to appear in the market place, not only do they carry out traditional functions such as slicing and dicing or kneading and mixing, some now feature features such as cooking, weighing and self-cleaning allowing virtually one-stop solutions for the busy caterer. Once again, the trade-off for all this efficiency and time-saving is their increased costs over more traditional machines. One would have to weigh up savings such as staff costs carefully before committing to this level of purchase and whilst some view these technological wonders as over-priced culinary gadgets there are some serious chefs out there who swear by them.
Caring For Your Food Processor
Food processors should last seven to ten years if used and maintained properly. Typically, a food processor does not require much maintenance, since the motor is usually a sealed unit.
However, a few basic steps can be taken to maximize your food processor’s life:
- Wash food processor bowls, attachments, blades, covers, and pushers regularly. Most are of these are dishwasher safe.
- Always use the food pusher that comes with your unit to guide food into the processor. Not only is it unsafe to use other objects or hands, but damage to the unit could also result.
- It’s important to size the processor according to the types and quantities of foods you wish to process to avoid overloading. If the machine is too small or one without sufficient power and you are processing dense foods it will not last as long or work as efficiently as a larger one.
- Blades and attachments become dull over time and should be replaced. Purchasing replacement food processor parts, including blades and attachments, bowls, and discharge plates is easy and fast over the internet.