What Is A Food Mill? Uses & How To Use Them

There are many tools on the market that make it easier to blend, grind or whip food.

A food mill offers more steps than many other options, as it both grinds the food you want to keep and rejects the bits you want to avoid eating, such as tomato seeds or fruit skins.

Food Mill Uses

You can use your food mill for meal preparation, making homemade baby food, or preparing food for long-term storage.

One of the best benefits of working with a food mill is that the manual grinding process doesn’t introduce a great deal of air, so if you plan to store food long term, you can freeze it immediately after milling instead of waiting for it to settle.

Food mills also reduce your prep time.

For example, a simple crock pot apple butter can be prepared by simply washing your best apples, cutting them into evenly sized chunks and placing them in the crock pot. Once the apples have cooked and are cool enough to handle, you can run them through your food mill to remove the skin, stems and seeds.

Be prepared for a lot of separate parts and a bit of assembly. Your food mill will probably include:

  • a hand crank
  • a mesh screen for fine straining
  • a stand, so you can mill directly into a bowl
  • several grinding screens, so you can achieve the best consistency

There are many food mill manufacturers, and your search will likely turn up options made of a variety of different materials. Whenever possible, try to buy stainless steel pieces.

A plastic grinding bowl is fine and may be able to go in the dishwasher, but low quality steel or mesh screens may rust.

Additionally, if you love old-fashioned kitchen equipment and find a great mill with a wooden handle, study your instructions with care. The wooden handle may not survive the dishwasher and you may need to find a food-safe polish to keep it moisturized so it doesn’t crack over time.

Food Mill Vs Food Processor

Anyone who likes quick food prep probably loves their food processor, but be careful when using this wonderful tool on produce.

First of all, it’s almost impossible to remove all the skins and seeds before you fire up the food processor; once they’re processed, they’re a permanent part of the mix.

Additionally, you can introduce a lot of air by blending food in a food processor, even if you only use the pulse setting. Once food – particularly produce – is aerated, it oxidizes.

Also, if you freeze your chopped tomatoes or apples while aerated, freezer burn is a serious risk.

How To Use A Food Mill

How To Use A Food Mill For Tomatoes

Start with the right tomatoes. There is very little cooking involved in making fresh tomato sauce, so you want to begin this delectable journey with the best produce. Fresh juicy tomatoes are great in a salad, but you’ll want to start with a paste tomato to make the best sauce.

Be ready to work slowly and be prepared for several steps.

  1. First you need to do a quick boil of the tomatoes to break down the flesh and make it easy to remove the skins.
  2. Once they’re cool, you can mill them.
  3. To remove extra water while maintaining fabulous flavor, try a slow baking method that allows the paste to cook down and caramelize.

Making Applesauce With A Food Mill

Applesauce can be made quickly and in large batches with quartered apples, a bit of seasoning and some elbow grease. Because you’re working from your stovetop to your food mill, a cook can easily process plenty of apples for a delicious harvest treat.

Depending on the volume you’re milling, you may wind up clogging your food mill pretty quickly. This material includes plenty of skin and fibrous material from the core and seeds. You can easily compost this material. Your autumn applesauce can be used to feed your fresh summer tomatoes.

Be prepared for plenty of liquid. Rather than draining off the extra apple juice that may collect in the bowl, be ready to go back to the stovetop and reduce your applesauce. This reduction intensifies the flavor and will caramelize the juice, resulting in a naturally sweet applesauce.

Food Mill Mashed Potatoes

As a dedicated mashed potato fan, I’ve been using my stand mixer to make mashed potatoes for years. However, this food mill recipe has changed my perspective. It should be noted that this recipe recommends Yukon Gold, a fairly waxy potato in comparison to other white or sweet potatoes.

  1. Once you cook your potatoes, remove from the heat and drain into a colander.
  2. Place heavy cream, butter, salt and pepper into the cooking pot.
  3. Set the heat on low and stir gently until the butter melts.
  4. Place your food mill over the pot. Grind the potatoes, one cup at a time, into the warm mixture of butter and cream. Stir to combine potatoes and cream.
  5. Serve immediately.

This recipe is most effective when the potatoes are cut very small. You can also prepare this recipe with skin-on, but keep clearing your food mill to make sure the potatoes are milling effectively.

If you like skin-on mashed potatoes, you may need to use a larger mill mesh, but be prepared for potatoes that are a bit more al dente, or at least less creamy.

SEE ALSO: Can You Freeze Potatoes?

Final Thoughts

In a world of “hurry-quick-go-go-go,” working with a food mill is a chance to step back and really handle your food. If you like to roll out pie dough or love to knead bread, a food mill will delight you.

Additionally, if you’re lucky enough to have access to fresh produce from any source, a food mill is a gentle way to prepare food for long-term storage.

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