Food pro­ces­sors, chop­pers can be kitchen ma­gi­cians

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS -

Food pro­ces­sors are jacks-of-all-trades that can chop, slice, shred and puree many dif­fer­ent in­gre­di­ents -- some­times in great quan­ti­ties -- plus tackle heav­ier jobs like knead­ing dough. Mini-chop­pers are good for lighter work and smaller jobs -- es­pe­cially use­ful when you need to prep only a hand­ful of basil or chop some nuts.

Con­sumer Re­ports of­fers this over­view.

Thought process

If you reg­u­larly cook for a crowd or like to pre­pare mul­ti­ple batches of a recipe, you might ap­pre­ci­ate a big­ger, 11-to16-cup pro­ces­sor. But they tend to cost more, some­times weigh more and hog counter space. A ca­pac­ity of 7 cups or so is fine for most tasks.

Chop­pers make more sense for small jobs, such as dic­ing half an onion or minc­ing a hand­ful of pars­ley -- plus they’re eas­ier to clean.

Lower-priced mod­els Con­sumer Re­ports tested tended to de­liver sub­par per­for­mance in at least one pro­cess­ing task.

Chop shop: the ma­jor types

Full-sized pro­ces­sors are usu­ally more ver­sa­tile – able to chop

and slice foods and knead dough. Mini-chop­pers look like lit­tle food pro­ces­sors, but they’re for small jobs like chop­ping half a cup of nuts or a cou­ple of shal­lots. Here are the types of food pro­ces­sors to con­sider.

• Food Pro­ces­sors. Most eas­ily chop veg­eta­bles for soups or stews, slice salad fix­ings and shred cheese for tacos. Some mod­els can knead bread dough; just know that th­ese mod­els are gen­er­ally the more ex­pen­sive ones.

• Food Chop­pers. The dif­fer­ence be­tween food pro­ces­sors and chop­pers: power, ca­pac­ity and func­tion. Smaller, lighter and less ex­pen­sive chop­pers make quick work of cut­ting up small batches of nuts and herbs that would get lost in a food pro­ces­sor’s large bowl. Chop­pers typ­i­cally don’t have shred­ding and slic­ing blades.

Slice of life: Fea­tures to con­sider

Stan­dard equip­ment in­cludes a clear plas­tic mix­ing bowl and lid, an S-shaped metal chop­ping blade (and some­times a blunt blade for knead­ing dough), a plas­tic food pusher to safely prod food through the feed tube and a safety lock.

Con­sumer Re­ports sug­gests con­sid­er­ing th­ese ad­di­tional fea­tures:

• Speeds. Food pro­ces­sors typ­i­cally have two set­tings: on/off and pulse. The lat­ter set­ting runs the ma­chine in brief bursts for more pre­cise con­trol. Chop­pers typ­i­cally have one or two pulse set­tings, high and low. Those are all the speeds you re­ally need.

• Touch­pad con­trols. Now a com­mon fea­ture, touch­pads are easy to wipe clean.

• Mul­ti­func­tion ac­ces­sories. A shred­ding and slic­ing disk is stan­dard on full-sized pro­ces­sors. Some mod­els come with a juicer at­tach­ment or in­ter­change­able blades to han­dle a va­ri­ety of jobs.

• Dough blade. A blunt blade that im­proves per­for­mance in knead­ing dough.

• Liq­uid “max” line. A line or mark­ing on the mix­ing bowl that shows how much liq­uid the pro­ces­sor can hold. This helps pre­vent over­fill­ing, which can cause leaks.

• Stor­age case. Some food pro­ces­sors in­clude a stor­age case, though many do not, even at $200 or more.

• Feed tube. A wide feed tube saves you the trou­ble of cut­ting up pota­toes, cu­cum­bers and other large items.

To learn more, visit Con­sumerRe­ports.org.

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