Most of us love our mashed potatoes but not many of us enjoy making them. This deceptively simple dish certainly involves a lot of labor. You have to cut the potatoes up, boil them, mash them, mix in butter and milk or cream. Seems like the kind of work involved in a chef-inspired gourmet dish, not rustic and homey comfort food. No wonder so many of us turn to ready-made mashed potatoes. But, what if you can make mashed potatoes easier but skipping the mashing part? Many people wonder, then, if they should use a potato ricer or a food processor.
What is a Potato Ricer?
If you are wondering about using a potato ricer to make mashed potatoes, you are on the right track since this is pretty much what a potato ricer is meant for. A potato ricer resemble a giant garlic press, It has a perforated cut and presser attached to a hinged handle. You put peeled cooked potatoes into the cup, apply the presser on the top and squeeze the handle. The potato is squeezed through the little holes and “rice” or, really, pulverized. If you rice all your cooked potato, you’ve already accomplished the mashing part. All you have to do is mix in butter, milk or cream and seasoning, gently, so as not to overwork the potatoes.
Recommended: OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Potato Ricer
While many claim that a potato ricer overworks potatoes, resulting in a pasty mash, I haven’t found this generally to be true. You just have to gently fold in your additional ingredients once you’re done mashing.
But, a potato ricer can still be a fair amount of work because it takes a lot of squeezing, usually with both hands to get the potato through the holes. If you have weak hands or arthritis, then it definitely will not seem like the best way to go for you. So, wouldn’t a food processor be even easier?
Food Processor for Mashed Potatoes
A food processor will definitely render cooked potatoes into a form suitable for mashed, or whipped, potatoes. You can even include the peel if you like. The problem is that the way a food processor works means that the potato will continue being worked by the whirring blades for quite a while before all the potato flesh is “mashed.” It’s just too powerful and energetic. So, a food processor will definitely overwork the potatoes, resulting in a pasty and gummy mashed potato.
And, once you consider the fact that you have to now wash the food processor parts, including the blade, it’s not really less work than a potato ricer.
So, for mashed potatoes, potato ricer in, food processor out.
Food Mill for Mashed Potatoes
There is one other option, the food mill. A food mill is a tool meant to strain and puree foods like cooked fruits and vegetables. A food mill consists of a perforated hopper fitted with a perforated disc and a handle-rotated propeller-like blade. You place food in the assembled unit and you turn the crank. The blades force the food against and through the holes in the dish, resulting in a puree, the texture of which depends on the size of the holes in the disc, usually fine, medium, or coarse.
Recommended: OXO Good Grips Food Mill
However, a food mill leaves behind things like peels and seeds. So, if you want to make a nice tomato puree, a food mill is the right tool. Or you can make a chunky tomato puree (or creamy tomato soup) but still without peels. The same is true of cooked fruits or veggies like carrots. For instance, a food mill will make a perfectly smooth apple sauce. If you are a home canner, you’ll probably want a food mill. Also, food mills are perfect for making homemade baby food purees. And, they can be used to make mashed potatoes. To do so, you’d use the coarse disc. These holes will be similar to the holes in a potato ricer and the results, as you can see in the picture above, are similar. One advantage over a potato ricer? You don’t have to peel the potatoes. They’ll be left behind in the hopper.
If you want to make lots of smooth sauces, purees, or baby food, then a food mill may be a valuable tool for you. But if you are just looking for an easier way to make mashed potatoes, its a bit much. A potato ricer is less expensive and will take up less room during storage.