Archive for the ‘Meat Grinders and Slicers’ category

Does a food chopper cut it?

September 17th, 2010

With our busy life styles we are always looking at ways to save time and effort in all parts of our life. We all know the benefits of freshly cooked food over processed ready meals. However cooking today can become a chore as preparing food can sometimes take as long to cook it than sometimes eat it. When you actually think about your every day life we are often cooking and tidying up longer than actually enjoying the food. Cooking doesn’t need to be a chore and with modern kitchen equipment what once took minutes can now take seconds. That’s why every kitchen should have a food chopper to give you the maximum amount of time to enjoy cooking and eating.

There are many food choppers on the market and some endorsed by celebrity tv chef ‘s like Delia Smith in her book “How to Cheat at Cooking”. They see the advantage such a gadget can make to our every day life and something that will help cooking be a pleasure. This will all help to ensure we cook with fresh ingredients more and therefore have a healthier life style.

Choosing A Food Chopper

You have a choice between two main types of food chopper. There is a manual food chopper(sometimes known as a vegetable slicer) or an electric powered food chopper. The most popular being the electric powered food chopper. The prices of these electric powered mini food choppers have reduced considerably making them within the budget of most people although if your budget can extend to a Magimix food processor you will get a more vesatile appliance that you can use for a lot more than just food chopping.  These normally consist of a base that holds the power unit and drive shaft. A plastic bowl fits over the drive shaft and the stainless steel blade fits onto the drive shaft. Finally a lid normally will clip on top of the bowl similar to most kitchen canisters. The chopper is normally operated by a push button that can give different speeds with some units having a pulse function. Popular makes for food choppers are Kenwood, Black & Decker, KitchenAid, Proctor Silex and the Pampered Chef Food Chopper.

It is quite common for new parents to buy a food chopper to help prepare food for there children as they starting weaning them on to solid foods. However most then see the benefits of such a device and end up using it for their every day cooking.

How To Look After Your Food Chopper

When selecting a food chopper ensure the device is easy to clean, some food choppers can be put in the dishwasher although you will probably protect it better if you wash it by hand. One tip to remember is never use spices like cloves, dill or cumin as these can damage the plastic. If the plastic ever gets discoloured by the food it is chopping then try wiping with a cloth dipped in vegetable oil.

You should always take care when disassembling your device as the blade is very sharp. Always ensure the machine is switched off and unplugged from the power and that the power cord is kept dry. Although most machines come with a one year warranty if you look after your machine correctly then you should get many years of happy food chopping.

Selecting A Vegetable Slicer

September 14th, 2010

With all of us trying to be more health conscious making sure you have five portions of fruit or vegetables is one target we should all try to achieve. But what’s the difference between a vegetable and a fruit and does it matter. There has been many an argument in a pub quiz to differentiate fruit from vegetables. In fact fruit can be scientifically defined as the ovary of a seed bearing plant.

Vegetable which’s name comes from the Latin vegetabilis (animated) and from vegetare (enliven), which is derived from vegetus (active), which refers to the process of a plant growing. A vegetable is loosely defined as edible part of a plant with a savoury flavour. One of the most common misconceptions is the humble tomato. Which is a fruit however in some countries was taxed as a vegetable.

Using a vegetable slicer is a great way to get more vegetables or even fruit into your diet. They come in many forms but the basic mechanics of a vegetable slicer are a blade mounted at angle and some form of moving the produce evenly onto the blade.

The vegetable slicer comes in three main forms

Mandolin Vegetable Slicer

This is probably the most traditional slicer and normally has a main plate at an angle which then leads onto a blade. The blade can be interchangeable to give different results and adjusted for different thicknesses. These have been developed more recently to include more safety devices to protect the chef’s fingers. Also some include a container to catch the sliced vegetables.

Spiral Vegetable Slicer

The less common spiral vegetable slice works by attaching the produce to a handle that then rotates on a screw mechanism which forces the fruit or vegetables onto a blade. The blades can be changed and angles to produce different thicknesses and results.

Electric food chopper

This works by having a rotating blade and manually pushing the produce into the machines. A great example of an electric food chopper is the Magimix food processor which cannot only just chop food but can also help to produce pastry.

Safety First

Which ever vegetable slicer you choose make sure you follow the manufactures instructions on how to clean and use your product. Many have an open blade and should be treated with the respect they deserve. Storing the alternative blades in secure kitchen canisters placed in a high cupboard away from the reaches of children is essential.

Meat Grinders An Essential Kitchen Accessory

September 7th, 2010

With the popularity of processed food or the convenience of buying pre-minced meat the use of meat grinders have become less common in the modern day kitchen. With the electric mixers with blades many people have ignored the meat grinder. However the use of a quality meat grinder will produce a better consistent minced meat which you can adjust easier with a meat grinder rather than electric mixer. There is also something traditional and satisfying about grinding your own meat. Be it a grinder for your home or small business a well-designed meat grinder should last many years and give you some quality ingredients to cook with.

Mechanics of a meat grinder

Invented by Karl Drais in the 19th century the meat grinder can either be manually powered or electric. One of my best memories from my child hood was helping my mother assemble the meat grinder attach it to the kitchen table top and grinding bread to create awesome bread crumbs. There is something very traditional about cranking a meat grinder and feeding the meat into the funnel. As the product describes meat grinders primarily grind cooked and raw meat such as beef, veal, chicken, turkey, duck, pork, venison and even vegetables (although a vegetable slicer is better at preserving the texture of your vegetables). It has become a more popular kitchen appliance as we are all becoming more health conscious and want to know exactly what goes into our beef burgers or sausages.

The meat grinder is normally made from metal with a cast base and consists of a screw conveyor to force the meat from a funnel or hopper onto a rotating knife and through a hole plate from which the ground meat exits. This hole plate can be adjusted for different results. The grinder can be disassembled for easy cleaning and maintenance. The driving force can either be  a handle you rotate or an electric motor in larger industrial models.

Other attachments can be added to the end of the meat grinder to aid producing sausages.

Selecting a meat grinder

When selecting a meat grinder for your requirement the budget will dictate the style of grinder. A good manual grinder will cost around $30 – $60 however an electric powered model can be from $90 upwards.

One tip when selecting a manual grinder is to ensure the method of securing the meat grinder to your table top is compatible with your kitchen and more important is a well design secure fixing. You don’t want to get you new hand cranked grinder home only to find it does fit your kitchen table top or even worst breaks free on the first turn of the handle.

Electric models are rated in watts however don’t be fooled by wattage alone as build quality and ease of disassembly for cleaning is essential.

Popular manufacturers for meat grinders are
Norpro, Waring, Deni, Panasonic and KitchenAid.