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How necessary is a food mill?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hello, I am new to this forum. I have a question about food mills. I do not own one and I am wondering if it is really necessary for me to buy one. It occurs to me that the same things could be accomplished with a food processor and by pushing the food through a metal or wire strainer with a spatula. I cook mostly Italian and French dishes, sometimes Greek. I would like to know everyone's thoughts on the matter before I acquire a new gadget that will cost money and take up room in my already somewhat-small kitchen.

Thank you.
post #2 of 22
You are correct.
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #3 of 22
I have an ancient mouli, bought when my family were babies and used to process their first solid foods. I also have a potato ricer (which I use for a number of things) - but often use a sieve or muslin to strain out solids from various processes.
post #4 of 22
Other than a sharp knife I can't think of any other particular tool that is absolutely necessary.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #5 of 22
Mills are nice to have, but not what you'd call indispensible. If speed isn't an issue, they do a gentler and more selective job than a food processor -- without adding heat or requiring as much attention.

Nice to have, but if you don't have the space for it don't sweat it for now. If, at some point, you really feel the want of one, you'll buy it then.

BDL
post #6 of 22
Sadly, few cooks, home or pro, ever experience a sharp knife.

BDL
post #7 of 22
I never cut myself on a sharp knife
post #8 of 22
Sounds like somebody's been watching too much Food Network, Les.

You've already suggested several alternatives yourself. And, probably, answered you own question. Food mills are nice, sometimes. But they are not the indespensible items many TV chefs make them out to be.

I own two of them. Frankly, almost the only times I use them are when putting foods by. They are great, for instance, when making quantities of apple sauce, etc. But I can't imagine going to the bother of digging them out, using them, and then cleaning up, just for part of a meal.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 

No, not watching any TV...

...just reading the works of Marcella Hazan, Julia Child and Lulu Peyraud who seem to recommend it. I have never used a food mill and you never know sometimes until you use something and think "wow, this is great! how did I ever get by without this"? After reading the replies here, though, I think I will wait and see how I do with my strainer when the recipe calls for the food mill. Thanks!
post #10 of 22
So true.

As for the mill, it's a convenience.
Dammi un coltello affilato e vi mostrerò l'arte più belle del mondo.
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Dammi un coltello affilato e vi mostrerò l'arte più belle del mondo.
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post #11 of 22
I have a mill, use it once in a while. It's a pain to store, a pain to take out of the closet that's in the laundry room where we stuff all the tools that we only use twice a year, it's a pain to use and a pain to clean.

Yet for some reason, twice a year, I still take it out of the closet and use it.

Go figure.
post #12 of 22
I've related this story before, but that won't stop me from doing so again.

A number of years ago my wife was going to one of her folkdance parties, and was going to take a pineapple. She planned to halve it, core it and cut into chunks, served in one of the hollowed out halfs. She was running late, and I asked her if she wanted me to assist with the pineapple. She said no, she'd do it there.

Later that night she comes home, unloads her instruments and such, at some point she says to me "Thank you so much for keeping our knives sharp." Apparently at the host's home the sharpest knife she could find to work on the pineapple would have trouble making its way through warm butter. I wish everyone would realize dull knives are dangerous and difficult to work with. Sigh.

As for food mills, in the nearly four decades I've been cooking, mostly at home, professionally many years back, I've never been stopped by not having a food mill. Wasn't there a somewhat recent discusion about what tools one should have as a minimum in the kitchen?


mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #13 of 22
Yep. Not exactly. It was a thread about creating a "minimalist kitchen," which was an idea that ran in the NY Times (although it didn't start there) and provoked a lot of discussion -- even reaching as far as CT. The idea was a kitchen with the bare minimum number of tools necessary to do a (not-quite adequate) job of cooking (a limited repertoire). While small apartments were discussed, the underlying premise seemed to equate denial with virtue.

James Beard told a story about arriving in a small town to do a demonstration, but it turned out the hosts, who had rented the stage at a small theater, hadn't realized he didn't bring his kitchen with him. Even the hardware store was out of hot plates. What to do? He had the hardware store deliver a cheap frying pan an iron and a long extension cord; turned the iron upside down; and was on his merry, James Beard way.

A thread on what's required for a functional and versatile kitchen would be far more interesting. No doubt parts of the answers would be very circumstance dependent and individualized, but there would be a lot of overlap too. Learning which was which might be surprising and fun.

Inquring minds...
BDL
post #14 of 22
I wonder how many of us here have a larding needle close to hand? I don't.


mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #15 of 22
I do!
But then, I have always been a sucker for kitchen gadgets/equipment. I have a very deep drawer... filled to the gunnels with things I didn't know I needed until I saw the item in a department store's kitchen section!
post #16 of 22
I like mine though I only use it a few times a year. And it's dishwasher safe and easy to clean even by hand.

I admit I've used it more camping the last few years.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #17 of 22
I'm with you KYH, and many others. If I have a large lot of dried bread to crumb, or a stack of onions to slice for fundraising bbqs we do - then I get it out. Same for big lots of coleslaw, grated cheese etc.

Otherwise it hides in the pantry. Knife, box grater, sieve pretty much take care of the day to day. And definitely a sharp knife at that.

But I do like the smaller electrical blenders for smoothies and such. Easy to clean, saves a lot of work.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well, this is interesting, and this is why I posted the question, even though as someone else pointed out I seemed to answer it myself. I wasn't aware that food mills could slice; I am starting to suspect that they may be more useful than I had imagined.
post #19 of 22
I'm not aware of any food mills that can slice---or do anything else except strain. They're basically sieves with a leveraged assist.

I think DC is confusing them with food processors.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #20 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for clarifying! (no pun intended)
post #21 of 22
What schools today show the students what a larding needle is or what its for, or for that matter use lard or suet or fat? I'll bet not many. Or what is poiling or what are shirred eggs, or what is barding. Or how to break down a forequarter or hindquarter? Or where do sweetbreads come from.? Old school days are gone it's a shame.
When everything was done from scratch, no two places were the same, today they are cookie cutter. When I was young the biggest inovation I saw was prebreaded or peeled shrimp andthe invention of soup bases. The bases eliminated the downstairs steamkettle stock 'potage' room that was also a shame. Oh well for the good old days when cooking was an art not a speed contest.
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #22 of 22
I am....my bad. Just Googled them - food mills are different. Some look like what we'd call blenders, others look like moulis...confusing, that.
Oops :rolleyes:
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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