What Can You Make With A Food Processor? What Are Its Novel Uses?
A food processor is one of the most important tools in a commercial kitchen, but also one of the most misunderstood. Being able to unlock its full potential can do wonders for your business, so today, we’re going to go on a deep dive on the mighty food processor.
In foodservice, speed and consistency are vital. With the large number of people you have to feed, slicing, dicing, or shredding by hand just isn’t ideal. Having a powerful food processor just makes sense on all counts--speed, space, labor, and productivity.
Food Processor vs. Blender
But let’s get this out of the way first. What is the difference between a commercial food processor and a blender? Well, there are quite a few. Sure, food processors and blenders have their similarities, such as the presence of a blade that tears through ingredients at incredible power and speed, but they operate very differently.
Simply put, blenders are optimized for liquids like smoothies and purees. Blenders are characterized by the faster rotation of the blades, which tend to be much smaller compared to that of the food processors. It can pulverize solids, but it needs a liquid base.
Food processors are perfect for more labor-intensive tasks like mixing dough or butter, chopping vegetables, and crushing dry foods like nuts or meats. This is because of the slower spin rate and broader blades. Anything chunky or textured, a food processor can handle, and efficiently too.
There are some things that only a food processor can do and vice versa. For one, a blender will not do well in shredding cheese while a food processor should by no means be used for making cocktails. You don’t have to choose one over the other. There’s a place for both in the commercial kitchen.
How strong is a food processor supposed to be?
Not all food processors are the same. Different factors are considered when evaluating their capabilities, but a lot of it will have to do with the motor horsepower. Many of what you will find while you shop are categorized by how much work they can handle and the types of ingredients it can process. Heavy-duty operations will require more juice.
Typically, food processors with 3/4 and 1 HP motors should do well for light-duty use while medium and heavy-duty units range between 1 and 2 HP, and sometimes 4 HP. This is not always the case though, so make sure to read the information from the manufacturer or consult your supplier in order to determine if the food processor is strong enough.
So what can you do with a food processor?
To understand how a food processor works, let’s disassemble it a little bit. Inside, you will find blades or slicing discs depending on the unit. An S-shaped blade, which consists of two to four curved blades, is placed at the bottom of the bowl.
Food processors may also use disc blades, which are typically located at the top of the bowl from which users can put food through. This positioning contributes to slower rpms, which is what you’ll need when slicing, cubing, and dicing fruits and vegetables. Rpms at 300 to 800 should do well in these tasks. Keep in mind that the slower the speed, the cleaner and more precise the cut will be.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the food processor to see what it can do.
We know a food processor is capable of slicing and dicing. Just how good is it?
Spoiler alert: It’s really good! Food processors provide you lots of ways to cut fruits, vegetables, and many other ingredients by offering excellent customization. Most food processors come with a set of slicing discs with different styles and thicknesses to fit your needs. The most common are: julienne, shred, grate, whip, brunoise, french fry cut, and crinkle-cut.
Why is a slow rpm required for cutting and slicing? Because if the blades rotate too fast, it can crush the ingredients and the nutrients along with it. The slow speed helps prevent oxidation so that the fruits, vegetables, and whatever food items you are working with retain their original quality as much as possible.
Hummus, butter, or pesto? A food processor can handle that.
One thing a food processor does well is emulsification. A batch bowl food processor is equipped with an integrated bowl and two to four S-blades. A food processor has different speeds rated as RPMs or revolutions per minute. For emulsifying, the blades are usually located at the bottom of the bowl and spins at high speeds to reach higher RPMs of up to 3,000 to eliminate the graininess of ingredients, which is common in products you’d like to emulsify such as chickpeas.
How about good old fashioned mincing and mixing?
You can’t get better results than a food processor. The S-blades on a batch bowl food processor is great if you don’t mind the limited capacity (1 to 6 quarts). Otherwise, you will have to go with a continuous food processor, which doesn’t have a built-in bowl. Instead, you can place a separate container next to it that the processed ingredients can exit to. Depending on the food processor, you can produce up to thousands of pounds of product per hour. If you want an integrated bowl but also the benefit of a continuous feed design, there are actually food processors that offer that level of productivity.
How about soups?
As we mentioned above, you have to turn to blenders when it comes to liquids. While you can try to work soups in a food processor, it won’t be pretty. If you anticipate a lot of liquid food processing in your commercial kitchen, however, choose a food processor that comes with a removable bowl gasket to avoid any spills.
How can you get the perfect speed?
The perfect speed will depend upon the results you’re after. Entry-level food processors only have a single speed. There are single-speed food processors as well. This type is suited for operations that work with the same ingredients daily.
Many of the commercial food processors available today, however, come with variable speed settings, making them very versatile. These machines allow you to speed up or slow down the processing as needed at the push of a button. Typically, manufacturers will add up to 10 speed settings that range from as slow as 300 all the way to 3,000 RPMs. You can get a lot of use in these food processors with these features because they already have the speeds you will need in processing most ingredients.
Making the right pick
So how do you find the best food processor for your specific needs? Make sure that the food processor has a hopper that’s large enough to fit the sizes of ingredients that you will be using it for. At the same time, if you will be working on large volumes of ingredients, a continuous-feed food processor is a better choice for quicker, streamlined operation.
Food processors should also be easy to clean. Those with aluminum and stainless steel parts should require low maintenance. You will also benefit from being able to remove the parts without tools needed. You should also choose a manufacturer and a supplier with excellent after-sale support. Replacement parts should be easy to find. You should not have to go to the ends of the earth to be able to buy Hamilton Beach blender parts, because they are easily available. Distributors like CKitchen typically have replacement parts for the brands of food processors they carry.
A Hobart HCM61-1 Food Processor, for example, has great features such as a double or triple interlock switch that adds an increased level of safety by only operating when all components are set perfectly in place. The brand also uses a decoring screw in its continuous-feed food processors that keeps the ingredients in the middle of the hopper in order to achieve improved consistency and in turn better-quality results. provide greater quality and consistency in food preparation.
Best practices for best results
With an exceptional food processor on your side, you should also do your part in making sure this important investment stays durable and useful. Some of the things you can do to improve your food processing tasks include cleaning ingredients and food processor parts thoroughly and loading the right amount of produce.
In the event that the food processor breaks down or needs new parts, you are making things easy for you by choosing a brand that allows wide availability of their accessories and product components.