Food Processor Buying Guide

Does paying more get you a better food processor?
 
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  • Updated:2 Jul 2010
 

01.Types of processors

Food processor

 

 

A food processor can slice, dice, chop, shred, grate, zest, mash, puree, mix, knead, grind and emulsify. Add a blender and you can chop nuts and spices, and crush ice. You can make soup with either of them. Is it worth combining the two products in one?

For comparative test results see the latest CHOICE Food Processor Reviews.

A standalone food processor comes with plenty of accessories, but with a combo product you get even more. Storage space alone might put you off if you have a small kitchen.

As well as having lots of accessories the combination processors/blenders tend to be bulky and awkward to fit in a cupboard. They’re also quite tall when both appliances are in place. On the other hand, some food processors are heavy and would also be easier to use if you can leave them out on the kitchen bench.

You’ll probably know when you go shopping which kind you want: if you already have a handheld or benchtop blender, for example, there’s nothing to be gained by buying a combination appliance — they don’t give any better results and simply take up more space.

Findings:

  • Combination processors/blenders have a lot of accessories and tend to be bulky and awkward to fit in a cupboard.
  • Some standalone models can also perform blending functions, such as making mayonnaise and grinding nuts.
  • Whether you choose a standalone processor or combination processor/blender will depend on how much storage space you have and what you want to use it for.

What to look for

  • An internal storage drawer or separate storage box keeps all the attachments and blades together — a good way to protect the blades and your safety. But we found it strange that some storage devices aren’t big enough to store all the blades and/or attachments included with the appliance.
  • The size of the blender jug and food processor bowl varies from model to model, so think about what you’ll be using it for and the amount you need to process/blend. 
  •  A mini-processor bowl that sits inside the main food processor bowl is great for processing small quantities, making pesto and mayonnaise and grinding nuts. 
  •  Rubber feet on the motor unit can help keep it stable.
  • A double feed chute is a standard chute with a smaller chute insert that allows for smaller or thinner foods to be guided into the food processor to give better control when slicing or shredding.
  • A pulse function gives short bursts of power, which helps to distribute the load more evenly and improve uniformity, especially when blending smaller amounts.
  • Many have multiple speeds, but our home economist didn’t find multiple speeds a particularly useful feature.
  • If you want to make chips or vegetable strips, look for a model with a chipping blade. 
  •  A reversible blade has a grating blade on one side and a slicing blade on the other — it’s useful as it cuts down the number of separate blades you need to store.
  • A separate grinder unit can be good for grinding small loads, such as nuts, coffee, herbs and spices. A mini-processor bowl can do the same thing.
  • A beater or whisk disc attachment is specifically for whipping cream and beating egg whites.
  • A number of models come with a citrus juicer. Some come with a press juice extractor for juicing other types of fruit and vegetables.

For people with a disability

  • Look for a model with large controls and easy to assemble blades for people with pain or weakness in their hands.
  • Models with simple controls and fewer accessories are recommended for people with a cognitive impairment.
  • Food processors with disc-shaped grating/slicing blades are easier to handle without touching the blade itself, so are suitable for people with a visual impairment.

Hi-tech assistance

Some models come with an LCD screen.

  • They can display recipes, complete with ingredients list, method, and which accessory and speed to use.
  • Some models have an automatic function that allows you to nominate the attachment you’re using and it works out which speed to use itself.
  • An LCD screen can display information in multiple languages.

These additions can make the model more expensive and we aren’t convinced it’s worth it.

Cleaning tips

  • To remove stains on the processor bowl left by vegetables like carrots, rub some oil onto the surface and then wash it as normal. If you have to shred cheese or some other high-fat food as well, do the carrot first, as we found the cheese removed the stains.
  • To remove the odour from strong-smelling foods such as onions, one manufacturer recommends soaking the bowl or jug in a small amount of bleach and water (two litres of water to 100 mL of bleach) for five minutes, and then washing as normal.

Tester's pick

Fiona, CHOICE’s home economist, favours having a separate food processor plus a handheld blender to deal with smaller quantities — it avoids the storage hassles you get with a combo model.

 
 

 

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