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A Guide to Food Mills

Foodservice operators have access to all types of countertop equipment like food processors and blenders, so why invest in a food mill for prepping ingredients? These humble hand-cranked mills may look old-fashioned, but they are extremely useful for creating many types of pasta sauces or seedless berry purees. We'll explain why food mills can be a game-changer for your kitchen and what types of features to look for when you purchase one.

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What Is a Food Mill?

A food mill is a kitchen gadget designed to puree, mash, and strain ingredients with ease. It typically consists of a bowl, a crank, and a perforated disc that fits inside the bowl. As you turn the crank, the food is forced through the disc, resulting in a smooth and uniform texture. From making silky smooth sauces and soups to creating perfectly mashed potatoes and purees, this handy tool can handle a wide range of tasks in the kitchen.

What sets a food mill apart from other food prep equipment is that it removes pulp, skin, and seeds while smoothly pureeing your ingredients. If you use a food processor to puree tomatoes, you'll still need to remove the solids using a sieve to achieve a perfectly smooth consistency. A food mill performs two functions at once: pureeing and straining. Whether you’re looking to remove seeds from berries or skins from tomatoes, a food mill can help you achieve the desired consistency with minimal effort.

What Is a Food Mill Used For?

Reach for a food mill anytime you need to process fruits and veggies into a silky smooth puree while also filtering out solids like seeds and skin. These are some of our favorite ways to incorporate food mills into everyday kitchen prep work:

  • Sauces and Purees: One of the primary uses of a food mill is to create smooth sauces and purees. Whether you're making tomato sauce, applesauce, or a creamy vegetable puree, a food mill can help you achieve the perfect consistency without any unwanted seeds or skins.
  • Soups: You can easily filter out the solids and aromatics from your soups to achieve a velvety texture with a food mill.
  • Mashed Potatoes: Say goodbye to lumps in your mashed potatoes by using a food mill to achieve a silky smooth texture. Unlike traditional potato mashers, a food mill ensures consistent results every time, making it a favorite tool among chefs who take pride in their creamy mashed potatoes.
  • Fruit Jams and Jellies: Whether you're making strawberry jam or raspberry jelly, a food mill can help you easily remove seeds and skins while extracting the pure fruit pulp. This results in a smooth and delicious spread that will impress even the most discerning customers.

Types of Food Mills

When it comes to preparing fresh, homemade ingredients for your commercial kitchen, a food mill is a versatile tool that can help streamline your food preparation process. Before you invest in a food mill for your establishment, consider some of the key features below.

Restaurant Equipment
  • Capacity: Food mills come in a variety of sizes, so it's important to consider the capacity you'll need based on the volume of ingredients you typically work with. Whether you're processing small batches or large quantities of food, selecting a food mill with an appropriate capacity will help you work efficiently.
  • Material: The material of the food mill can impact its durability and performance. Stainless steel food mills are a popular choice for commercial kitchens due to their strength and resistance to corrosion. Some models feature interchangeable discs made from different materials to accommodate various textures and consistencies. Stainless steel is also a practical choice for processing acidic ingredients like tomato sauces and fruit purees.
  • Power Type: Food mills are available in manual and electric models. Manual food mills are operated by hand, making them ideal for smaller batches and precise control over the texture of your ingredients. On the other hand, electric food mills offer increased speed and efficiency, perfect for high-volume food processing tasks.
  • Style: Food mills come in different styles, including standard models that are designed to sit over the top of a container and are limited by the size of the batch bowl. Continuous feed models work a little bit differently. These food mills feature a chute that can be fed a continuous amount of ingredients for extra large batches.

Types of Food Mill Sieves

A food mill sieve, also called a disc, is a perforated plate that fits inside the food mill and plays a crucial role in the milling process. These discs come in various sizes and shapes, each designed to produce different textures and consistencies in your food. When selecting a food mill disc, consider the type of food you will be processing and the desired outcome. For example, a disc with smaller perforations is ideal for creating silky smooth sauces or baby food, while a disc with larger perforations is perfect for mashing potatoes or making chunky tomato sauce.

We'll cover some of the most common disc sizes below:

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  • 5/32" disc (4 mm)
  • Best for stringy vegetables
  • Tomato seeds will pass through
Restaurant Equipment
  • 1/8" disc (3 mm)
  • General mashing
  • Tomato seeds may pass through
Restaurant Equipment
  • 5/64" disc (2 mm)
  • General mashing
  • Tomato seeds will not pass through
Restaurant Equipment
  • 3/32" disc (2.3 mm)
  • Mashed potatoes and other vegetables
  • Tomato seeds will not pass through
Restaurant Equipment
  • 1/16" disc (1.5 mm)
  • Fine purees, tomato sauce, and soups
  • Tomato seeds will not pass through
Restaurant Equipment
  • 1/32" disc (1 mm)
  • Berries, syrups, and juices
  • Tomato seeds will not pass through

Food Mill Parts Diagram

A classic kitchen component, manual food mills consist of three primary parts - a crank handle, a bottomless bowl, and an interchangeable bottom with holes (the disc).

 diagram of manual food mill with crank and interchangeable bottoms
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