We North Americans have developed an outrageously unhealthy habit. We stroll down the frozen food aisles of gargantuan supermarkets looking for food that has been prepared for us in a factory, not a kitchen – food that has lists of ingredients that include words we cannot pronounce (well, unless chemistry was your thing in high school).
Fortunately, many of us are waking up to the fact that preparing our own meals from fresh, natural ingredients will make us healthier and happier.
We are looking for kitchen tools to help us in this healthful quest, tools like the food processor and the blender.
A blender processes and changes liquids and soft foods easily. A food processor can process liquids and soft foods too – and it is undaunted by the hardest piece of turnip or the toughest beet. Let’s take a look at each of these kitchen appliances that can be useful to us as we make more of our own food in our own kitchens.
A practiced at-home cook uses a blender to expertly create smoothly blended soups, such as cream of carrot or winter squash with coconut milk. She also used a blender to process small amounts of breadcrumbs or nuts. Why? A blender is better at pulverizing small amounts of things that is its larger cousin, the food processor.
A blender is the kitchen tool of choice for making the healthy – and delicious – smoothies we all read about online and in our cookbooks. Smoothies are usually a combination of soft fruits and vegetables and juices or milks – the blender excels at combining these types of foods.
A blender does not chop up foods well. For example, if you want to chop a bunch of mint to add to a quinoa salad, a blender will turn your lovely mint into a soggy mess that looks utterly unappetizing.
The Food Processor
As the old saying goes, you can’t make bread in a blender. Well, maybe this is not actually an old saying but it is true, nonetheless. A food processor can do some things that a blender cannot, or that a blender cannot do well.
A food processor can slice or grate vegetables – if you want thinly sliced potatoes for your to-die-for scalloped potatoes, for example, a food processor will do a splendid job for you. Though it is not only its slicing and grating abilities that have made the food processor a must-have item in many of our kitchens.
A food processor can chop herbs – basil, mint and coriander – without turning them into an unusable mush. If your go-to stew recipe called for roughly chopped onions, a food processor delivers.
Importantly for bakers, there are food processors that knead dough – be it for cookies, bread or biscuits. If you love to bake, a food processor could very well become your best friend (well, in your kitchen, at least).
Which is a better value for your money, the food processor or the blender?
Food processors and blenders can both cost lots of money – or not. The key is to choose the machine that will do what you need it to and then decide on a model that offers considerable value for its price.
Beware: it is easy to be seduced by a low price. Worthy blenders and food processors are expensive to manufacture. If you see a blender on sale for 20 dollars, for example, it is really not worth considering – or a food processor at 39 dollars. You will probably have to pay at least 60 dollars for a blender and at least 100 dollars for a food processor – and you may want to pay more. These are kitchen appliances that you will have for a long time.
Both a food processor and a blender bring exceptional value for the money that you will spend on them. If you are committed to cooking and baking your own food in your own kitchen, you will use these machines on a daily basis.
So, should you buy a blender? Or a food processor?
Let’s assume that you have to choose between a blender and a food processor – that you cannot, at the current time, buy both. (There is a case for buying both machines, as they do different things well.)
If you make lots of soups and smoothies and enjoy wielding a sharp knife, you should definitely start off by buying a blender. If you continue to expand your culinary horizons, you may want to add a food processor to your arsenal in the future.
If you like to bake, if you cook regularly for more than 4 people at a time – if you consider yourself a culinary adventurer – you simply must invest in a sturdy food processor. It will take you where you want to go.