Food Processor

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brookline
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Food Processor

Post by brookline »

Hi,
I'm seeking a food processor or mixer that can handle tasks like mixing bread dough or making smoothies. I've been reading Amazon reviews of $300 and under models in both categories and see a lot of complaints about poor durability and warranty service. Can anyone recommend a new model that is reliable in that price range? Alternatively, is it worth splurging (investing?) in a Vitamix?

bostonimproper
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Re: Food Processor

Post by bostonimproper »

I love my Vitamix for making smoothies, flours, and nut butters, which I do multiple times a week, but I'd never use it for mixing bread dough. What tasks do you realistically see yourself doing and with what frequency? Blender to food processor to stand mixer is a pretty wide spectrum, so I'd focus your money on the areas of biggest impact for you.

horsewoman
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Re: Food Processor

Post by horsewoman »

No direct recommendation, but one thing to keep in mind is the size of the bowls/containers. You need a large, wide bowl for bread dough and a smaller, upright one for smoothies. I used to have a Kenwood food processor (which was not good BTW) that could theoretically do both. In reality the motor was not strong enough to knead bread dough and the smaller, upright container for smoothies ect. was too big for making smaller quantities of food.
So now I have two machines - a bread machine for dough and a small bullet size food processor for smoothies, oat milk and vegan patties ect.
I like this setup better. The many pieces of the Kenwood machine were bothersome to attach, clean and make head or tail of.

tonyedgecombe
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Re: Food Processor

Post by tonyedgecombe »

We use ours a lot less since we got a cheap stick blender, I would probably skip the original blender now. I never use it for bread dough as it's easy to do by hand and you don't have to deal with cleaning sticky dough from the bowl.

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Alphaville
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Re: Food Processor

Post by Alphaville »

I would not spend money on an apparatus for mixing dough. Get a plastic bucket and mix/fold a wet artisan type dough by hand.

E.g., Ken Forkish:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoY7CPw0E1s
He’s got multiple videos, all worth watching.

or even simpler:
https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes ... ead-recipe
etc

These are better doughs than you’d get with a food processor. Forkish invented his hand techniques to mimic the action of commercial dough mixers. I wouldn’t even bother with a $10 dough whisk at this point.

For other things, I do have a food processor but rarely use it. A box grater and a potato masher see a lot more action in my kitchen these days.

Some days I wish I had a blender, but then I forget about it for a month. I don’t see it as having a huge ROI for me.

ETA: If I had to do it all over again, I’d get a manual food mill and skip the processor: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_mill

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Seppia
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Re: Food Processor

Post by Seppia »

brookline wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 11:49 pm
Hi,
I'm seeking a food processor or mixer that can handle tasks like mixing bread dough or making smoothies.
These are radically different tasks.
If you need to make smoothies and blend stuff that is not too tough, a stick blender will do.
Buy one with a metal cylinder, plastic can break it immersed multiple times in extremely hot liquid (ie I use mine to blend soups).
Much cheaper than $300, even for a good brand.
Can find one used and these last years.

https://www.amazon.com/Braun-MQ725-Mult ... aps&sr=1-6

Cheepnis
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Re: Food Processor

Post by Cheepnis »

As Seppia just said it sounds like you're looking for multiple appliances. I think finding a good stand mixer, i.e. for bread dough, will be harder to find used than a decent blender and/or food processor. I know you asked for advice on new appliances, but I've got a 3$ POS thrift store food processor that's been working for 4 years with no signs of slowing down. There's decent blenders in thrift stores regularly as well.

George the original one
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Re: Food Processor

Post by George the original one »

Bread machine or stand mixer for dough kneading. Which you choose depends on how much you're planning to mix at once.

Stick blenders are definitely more versatile for mixing & mild chopping. Blender is required IMO for crushing ice to snow cone particles... seems to be about the only thing I use our blender for and we don't own a stick blender.

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Sclass
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Re: Food Processor

Post by Sclass »

George the original one wrote:
Sun Dec 29, 2019 9:13 pm
Bread machine or stand mixer for dough kneading. Which you choose depends on how much you're planning to mix at once.
Agreed. I didn’t want to spend the $ for a stand mixer so I got a bread machine for kneading dough. This is indeed limiting as @GTOO says. It only does a lb of flour at a time so I got a second one. One was free, the other was $10. They work well for kneading if I run two in parallel.

My cuisinart food processor is lousy for kneading. The same flour and water I use in the bread maker doesn’t mix as well in the cuisinart. The resulting bread, pasta and such isn’t as smooth. I think the mixture just isn’t turned over enough. I’ve seen stand mixers do a great job of turning and turning the dough. The bread machine is a cheap compromise.

Cuisinart is great for mincing up meat and veggies. Good for making a quick cheesecake. But lousy for kneading.

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Alphaville
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Re: Food Processor

Post by Alphaville »

A nice wet dough with 75-80% hydration doesn’t need heavy kneading. You’ll do better with gentle folding, which preserves the integrity of the gluten for a nice structure. Even more so if you use rye in your flour mix because rye gluten is extra-delicate.

I don’t know when we came up with the mania of having to beat the heck out of bread dough, maybe it was due to the desire to make bread quickly, but these days the best breads are made and shaped by hand, and a slow fermentation in the refrigerator is preferred to the fast rise of machines for better flavor, digestibility, and structure.

The same principles that apply to the rest of ERE also apply here... there really is no need to outsource a simple pleasant task to the clutter of appliances. A little learning and the acquisition of good technique go far.

I mentioned Ken Forkish in my post above, he’s got a great book called “Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast” that won a James Beard award, but before him Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe François wrote “Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day,” which really established the principles of making great bread at home with minimal labor. Please check them out at your local library and test out their methods before buying any machines. And of course their ideas have been echoed and reblogged all over the internet, so probably all you need is to do a search.

Lastly, these books recommend the use of dutch ovens or baking stones, which might induce one to make more purchases upfront, but I manage fine with a regular baking sheet, a baking mat, and a pan of water for nice crusty loaves, day in & day out. (These are tools I use for other purposes, like roasting things or making the weekly granola). Experiment with what you have before bringing more things into your home. You can always add tools later, as your skills grow, if you choose to, rather than buy upfront.

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Alphaville
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Re: Food Processor

Post by Alphaville »

@bigato

Yeah, wet slow doughs are where it’s at. I keep a bucket of dough in the fridge ready to go at all times. The longer I keep it the better it tastes (like a sourdough). I don’t currently make sourdoughs however.

That stovetop oven sounds interesting, I might try something similar in the summer when it’s too hot to bake indoors. Will research.

The Dutch oven is a type of cast iron pot. It’s used to cook the bread inside a regular oven, as it provides heat retention and moisture containment for optimal results, like those from professional ovens. I have a Dutch oven for stews, etc, but it’s too large for bread. An optimal size would be a 4L pot for a loaf made with 500g flour, but I don’t want to buy one just for this. The bigger pot works, but it gives you a flatter disc rather than a springy boule.

I prefer batard shapes to boules however, so I bake in a flat sheet and put a pot of water in the bottom rack. For cases like mine, a baking stone would be optimal, but I haven’t made the splurge yet. Maybe some day I’ll take one off the hands of someone who doesn’t use theirs and save them from clutter.

In the meantime, proofing the bread directly on the aluminum baking sheet (lined with a silicone mat) saves me the need for heavy stones and cast irons, proofing baskets, parchment paper, peels, cornmeal, and further paraphernalia.

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Alphaville
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Re: Food Processor

Post by Alphaville »

Wow, that blew my mind a little. I’m going to investigate more and try to make myself one.

Meanwhile, here is a link to a quick no-knead focaccia from the authors I mentioned above:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/vor ... ing-bread/

(Might be a paywall or you might be able to read for free after clearing cookies.)

All nice and good, but here is the key bit of theory embedded in the article:

The key is moisture. Hertzberg and François are the first to say they did not invent the concept of a wetter dough that does not require kneading [...]. When you knead, you are helping develop the gluten, which occurs when water interacts with the protein in the flour. Kneading helps align the gluten into a network that gives bread structure. But when the dough is wetter, Hertzberg says, the gluten strands are free to roam around and find each other to align themselves.

“If the dough is willing to do the work for you, then why not?” François says.
Alright! Enjoy some machineless bread. Happy 2020.

brookline
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Re: Food Processor

Post by brookline »

Hi folks,
Thanks for the replies. This has been educational. Please note that:
1. I have 2 large cast iron dutch ovens in which I bake bread.
2. I typically use sourdough not commercial yeast.
3. I *never* bake with wheat/gluten or grains. I use arrowroot flour, cassava flour, tapioca flour, or similar.
Does that change your answers about kneading by hand vs. machine?

enigmaT120
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Re: Food Processor

Post by enigmaT120 »

If there is no gluten, what is the point of kneading at all? Just mix it up?

brookline
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Re: Food Processor

Post by brookline »

I'd still be interested in hearing about mixers. Maybe there is a frugal way to mix dough quickly? (I work so speed matters).

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Alphaville
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Re: Food Processor

Post by Alphaville »

enigmaT120 wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 1:33 am
If there is no gluten, what is the point of kneading at all? Just mix it up?
if there’s no gluten (like a cornbread) kneading is indeed pointless

i’d just use a wooden spoon to stir. there’s nothing to “work”. this is more batter than dough.

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Alphaville
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Re: Food Processor

Post by Alphaville »

brookline wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 10:27 pm
Hi folks,
Thanks for the replies. This has been educational. Please note that:
1. I have 2 large cast iron dutch ovens in which I bake bread.
2. I typically use sourdough not commercial yeast.
3. I *never* bake with wheat/gluten or grains. I use arrowroot flour, cassava flour, tapioca flour, or similar.
Does that change your answers about kneading by hand vs. machine?
I did some searches for sourdough cassava bread, etc, and I noticed that these are technically batters, not doughs. Like a cake, you don’t have to knead them, as there is no gluten to work and structure. You just mix and blam you’re done. Wooden spoon in a bowl does it.

Mixers with dough hooks, food processors with dough blades, etc, are meant to replace the manual kneading process with powerful electric motors. Since you’re working gluten-free, these functions are pointless for you. (They’re also pointless with wet gluten doughs, as explained in previous posts).

As for just mixing ingredients: if your wooden spoon doesn’t quite cut it, search maybe for a Danish/Polish dough whisk, which is like $10 new, and supposedly is great for mixing flour with water. Personally I have never used one—I’ve only read online reviews, and users seem to like them a lot. So maybe start there?

ETA: behold the monk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtO0QPOeFlM

brookline
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Re: Food Processor

Post by brookline »

Alphaville wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 1:21 pm
I did some searches for sourdough cassava bread, etc, and I noticed that these are technically batters, not doughs. Like a cake, you don’t have to knead them, as there is no gluten to work and structure. You just mix and blam you’re done. Wooden spoon in a bowl does it.

Mixers with dough hooks, food processors with dough blades, etc, are meant to replace the manual kneading process with powerful electric motors. Since you’re working gluten-free, these functions are pointless for you. (They’re also pointless with wet gluten doughs, as explained in previous posts).

As for just mixing ingredients: if your wooden spoon doesn’t quite cut it, search maybe for a Danish/Polish dough whisk, which is like $10 new, and supposedly is great for mixing flour with water. Personally I have never used one—I’ve only read online reviews, and users seem to like them a lot. So maybe start there?

ETA: behold the monk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtO0QPOeFlM
Thanks Alphaville. I'll check into the Danish/Polish dough whisk. I prefer a $10 solution to a $300 solution.

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Alphaville
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Re: Food Processor

Post by Alphaville »

Sure thing.

Now let’s crack the blender question. What kind of smoothies are you planning to make?

I sometimes drink whey shakes made in a plastic thing with a coil inside. Those however are not smoothies.

When I used to drink smoothies (I might do it again, maybe in summer) I used a lot of frozen fruit so yeah, a blender is definitely a requirement. Not a stick blender, but a blender that can crush ice. The stick blender is ok to make mayo...

As for real blenders, I don’t think you’d need a Vitamix however. That would be overkill. In terms of good value, I think the Nutribullet and the Ninja might be around the sweet spot. That’s what I would buy. Since I keep going back and forth, I’ve been abstaining, hahaha. Good money saving strategy, I guess. Proof that I can live without.

Then again, certain blender brands are purportedly “for life”. Vitamix, Blendtec... I forget what else. And looking at cost per use, they would amortize themselves nicely. But for that scheme to work, you’d need to commit to a lifetime of frequent blender usage, which... might be hard to predict. Most people keep their expensive blenders stashed in the backs of cupboards. Don’t become one of them.

So, since you can’t predict what a blender might mean to you long term, maybe ooching would be a better strategy. Try something cheap/used/borrowed, see how you like it, then trade up or discard, as required.

For more on “ooching” see the book “Decisive” by the Heath brothers. Just means to engage something via a gradual approach, but they discuss the strategic value of this decision-making method in greater depth.

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Alphaville
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Re: Food Processor

Post by Alphaville »

secretgarden wrote:
Wed Apr 22, 2020 2:08 pm
I've been loving my Vitamix, it's the only mixer I've found that actually mixes VERY well.
fer sirius? vitamix doesn’t make mixers, in spite of the name... 🤔

eta: @secretgarden is a spammer who inserted spam into a quote of something i wrote.
Last edited by Alphaville on Sat Feb 20, 2021 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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