Mini Food Processors
Full-size food processors are not suited for chopping small amounts of food. Everyone has tried to mince two or three cloves of garlic or a handful of nuts in a full-size food processor (usually in recipes where the processor is used for other tasks as well) only to see the nuts get chipped and dented as they fly around the huge bowl or the garlic get squished, bruised, and stuck under the blade.
Perhaps a mini food processor (aka food chopper or minichopper) is the answer for those mid-sized jobs— amounts too small to be chopped efficiently in a full-size unit, but bigger than you care to do by hand. To find out, we tested eight food choppers, each with a 3-cup capacity (or as close to that as we could get, depending on the manufacturer). Tests included chopping dry ingredients (1 cup of almonds, 1 1/2 ounces of Parmesan cheese, and fresh garlic cloves, two at a time and six at a time), mincing herbs (1 cup parsley), and processing a mixture of dry and wet ingredients (a single recipe of green curry paste with 10 cloves garlic, 15 green Thai chiles, 2 large jalapenos, 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, 2 stalks lemon grass, 1 small shallot, oil, and numerous herbs and spices).
Two models managed to do a decent job with the almonds, producing mostly 1/4-inch pieces, but each left behind 2 to 3 tablespoons of unusable powder. Lower-rated models either left large chunks of almonds or proved difficult to adjust before breaking the nuts down into powder.
All of the models handled the Parmesan fairly well, although the cheese grated in three of them was too coarse. The lowest rated model grated the cheese very unevenly, with some powder so fine that it was gummy and some powder that was very coarse. Four models did a good job, breaking down the cheese quickly into an even grind. All of the models except for one did a good job mincing both two and six cloves of garlic.
Every single one of the choppers failed to produce acceptable minced parsley. The best of the bunch (managed only a fair rating (bruised, unevenly cut leaves with a fair number of whole, intact leaves left). You’re better off mincing parsley by hand.
Green Curry Paste was our final test. We started with all of the ingredients chopped into 1/2-inch pieces. One full recipe was too large a quantity for the minis to produce a suitably smooth paste; all of the pastes except for one were too rough and/or chunky for our tastes. We had more success with making a smaller batch of curry paste (a full-size food processor can handle the whole recipe).
There were some design factors to take into consideration as well. None of the models we tested had slicing or shredding attachments, or one-touch “on” buttons (we had to hold their buttons down for the motor to run). On one model we appreciated the sealed workbowl and sealed motor unit (which kept the motor itself from getting dirty). However, the top-mounted motor made it difficult to see what was going on in the workbowl, which was a major pain because you have to monitor the food in the bowl visually to see how broken down it is. All but three of the models included drip holes in their feed tubes, to ease the process of making mayo or other emulsified sauces.
So what should you buy? If you already own a full-size food processor with a mini-bowl attachment, the attachment will work just fine for smaller jobs. But if you have the counter space, a mini food processor can be a good addition to your kitchen. Our top choice performed most of the tasks with relative ease.
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasn’t sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|Recommended with Reservations|
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.
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