A food mill is a kitchen tool which is designed to grind, mash, or puree foods. The device is extremely useful for making a wide range of things, from baby food to mashed potatoes. While not a vitally necessary kitchen tool, a food mill can certainly come in handy around the kitchen, so acquiring one is a good idea. Many kitchen supply stores sell food mills along with accessories, and they can also be ordered directly through suppliers.
There are several parts to a food mill. The first is a large bowl propped up on sturdy feet. A perforated disc is designed to fit into the bottom of the bowl, and a large flat blade attached to a crank handle clips in on top of the disc. To use the good mill, the chef pours in the food and then cranks the handle, forcing the food through the disc into a waiting container below.
Typically, a food mill comes with a selection of discs in an assortment of sizes. This allows chefs to create foods of varying consistencies, or to make several passes with a particularly stubborn food. Replacement discs are also usually readily available, in case a disc becomes damaged or warped. The food mill may also come with an attaching bowl to catch the food as it is ground out.
When a recipe calls for pureeing or mashing, a food mill can be the perfect tool. It is especially valuable when a food needs to be pureed and sieved, as might be the case with something like stewed tomatoes. A finely perforated disc can be used so that only the tomato flesh comes through, but not the seeds or the skin. The device can also be used as a grinder, though not on truly hard foods like coffee beans or resilient foods such as meat.
Since a good mill can see hard use, it pays to pick out a sturdy specimen when purchasing one. Look for a food mill which can be easily disassembled and cleaned, and try to find one which is capable of standing up to hard use. If the legs can be easily bent or twisted, the food mill will not hold up to extended projects. The disks and blade of a food mill should also be very strong, as they may undergo large amounts of pressure. Look for solid construction and strong materials, avoiding cheap alternatives as they will be ultimately frustrating.