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A manual food processor is a kitchen tool that allows a chef to perform culinary functions such as slicing and chopping without the aid of electricity. The chef uses physical strength to move blades through selected foods, or to move the foods over stationary blades. People sometimes consider these tools to be the simpler or more environmentally-friendly version of electric food processors.
The exact design of a manual food processor varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but all manual food processors have a primary container or holding cup, which sometimes comes with a main lid so chefs can store foods in the cup. The primary container holds the food that the chef has just processed or intends to process. Other basic components include a lid, blade and pump or crank. Additional features include graters, whisks, egg separators, and juicing tops. Many models are dishwasher safe.
In regard to the blades, a manual food processor may have either a stationary, pump or rotating blade. A stationary blade usually sits within a lid for the processor, and the chef moves the food over the blades to make smaller pieces. The disadvantage here is that, eventually, the chef is left with a small part of food he cannot cut any smaller because of the danger of putting his fingers closer to the blades. A pump blade fits vertically into the manual food processor lid, moving up and down for chopping as the chef lifts and lowers the blade via an upper handle. Rotating blades fit onto a crank mechanism and provide the safest cutting and mixing.
Manual food processor sizes also vary. The smallest ones hold only about a cup and are good for making small dishes such as salsa. Large models may hold up to 20 cups.
One of the disadvantages of a manual food processor is that, due to the need for physical power, they can be tiring to use. This is particularly true if the food is very firm, such as potatoes or carrots. Of course, this depends somewhat on the quality of the blade and the leverage available from the mechanisms.
The major advantage of a manual food processor is that a chef may use the processor anywhere because he is not dependent on an electrical source. He can use the processor in situations such as camping or power outages, for example. With no electric motor, a manual food processor also is much quieter than an electric model and costs less. This can be important for people with noise-sensitive neighbors or infants, or who are on a tight budget.