What is a Food Mill?

What is a Food Mill
Image credit: The Spruce Eats

At first glance, a food mill may seem like a complex and unfathomable tool, the only “for professional chefs” kind of tool, and that’s if you know “what is a food mill” why you are here anyway.

However, it is one of the most versatile and practical tools for chefs and home cooks. This low-tech, high-efficiency appliance is your key to that easy applesauce, smooth mashed potatoes, and more.

Below you will find out what is a food mill, its different parts, and what it can be used for.

What is a Food Mill?

Whether it’s turning boiled apples into awesome applesauce, freshly cooked tomatoes into a classic marinara, or steamed potatoes into a delicious mash, the Food Mill makes its standing by being skilled with notoriously difficult-to-prep ingredients.

Think of a food mill as a low-tech version of a food processor, where there are no plugs or motors, just a handle-crank that spins with a bit of help from you and your biceps.

A simple term to describe what is a food mill. A food mill is a kitchen appliance used to grind or puree foods, and it can be used when making preserves or canning to produce a smooth mash without seeds, skins, or stems. It may also be called a rotary mill, passatutto, purée sieve, passe vitte, or moulinette.

What is it that a food mill can do that a processor can’t? For beginners, the sharp blade of a food processor will turn your chewy mashed potato dream into a gooey nightmare faster than you can say “buttermilk.”

And ask any canning enthusiast or homesteader what their favorite time-saving tools are, and you can bet a food mill tops the list.

In fact, a food mill can simultaneously puree and strain food so efficiently that it makes the tedious task of peeling fruits and vegetables obsolete.

Parts of a Food Mill

A standard food mill is usually a manual device consisting of three parts: the bowl, a perforated disk that sits at the bottom, and the hand crank at the top that is in charge of moving the metal blade that pushes food through the plate.

It is shaped like an inverted cone that has a wide mouth with legs or projections to sit on top of the bowl and hold steady while the food to be sauced is poured and the crank is turned. On the bottom, perforated, strain the crushed food into the receiving bowl.

A grinding blade is attached to the crank. And as you turn the crank, the food is mashed into the perforated plate at the bottom of the food mill, in which it is being forced through the holes in the sieve into the bowl you place below.

The outcome of this old-timey churning is a smooth purée with no seeds, pits, skins, or stems in presence! Food mills are often equipped with interchangeable perforated sieve plates for finer or coarser purées.

If you reverse the direction of the hand crank after extracting as much as possible, the seeds, skins, and other debris will go to the top of the grinding plate. You can then simply invert the food mill to your trash can or compost bin and dispose of the debris.

What Do You Use a Food Mill for?

You can use a food mill to mash and strain food to the desired consistency, like tomato sauce or applesauce, with the advantage of adding hot or cold foods, soft or semi-solid foods, unpeeled or unskinned fruits, and vegetables to the mill and producing a puree without skins or seeds.

This leads to less food waste than peeling or removing the seeds. Often only a small amount of residue and seeds remain after grinding, and it can be composted or thrown away.

Some other common uses of a food mill are helpful in making jams, jellies, preserves, etc., and uses more of the fruits or foods compared to using a sieve for straining.


However, you might want to ask yourself, why choose a food mill over a potato masher, food processor, strainer, or blender?

Here’s a simple answer: no other tool can crush and filter food so cleanly and consistently, all at the same time.

Some food mills also come with 3 disks in order to choose between a fine, medium, or coarse texture.

Owning a food mill means there’s no longer any need to transfer hot food from the blender, push tomatoes through a sieve, or work tirelessly to extract every morsel of mashed potato before it turns into a gummy mess.

Are you afraid of cleaning and washing stress? In addition to being able to disassemble the food mill for cleaning and washing, the food mill can also be easily washed in the dishwasher.

Here is a sign to get a food mill today.

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