Some of the earliest TV infomercials featured Ron Popeil hawking his famous Veg-o-Matic food chopper with the memorable catchphrase, “It slices! It dices!” Certainly, today’s heavy-duty, high-performance commercial food processors bear little resemblance to that prehistoric appliance—they can do so much more than just slicing and dicing.
The nuts and bolts
When shopping for a processor, start by looking at the motor specs and determining the kinds of foods you’ll be processing. Most countertop models range between 1 and 3 horsepower. For soups, sauces and other light usages, a lower-horsepower model may suffice, while higher horsepower will better handle heavy or continuous vegetable chopping. Since the motor is so essential to the machine, check the warranty. Most manufacturers offer at least a limited two-to-three year warranty on the motor, with some offering as much as five years.
While the motor may be the heart of a food processor, the blades and discs really do the hard work. Virtually every processor comes with a steel blade and a slicing disc as standard. How frequently you’ll need to replace those depends on your usage. If the blades—which cost anywhere from $150 to $350 each—are requiring frequent replacement, you might consider replacing the entire unit.
Shredding and grating discs make quantity prep of coleslaw or shredded cheese a cinch. There is also a wide variety of other discs available that can dice, julienne, pulp, cut french fries or even produce “rippled” edges on vegetables.
If shredding or slicing is going to be a major part of your processor’s work, consider a continuous feed model or attachment. Here, the sliced food exits a chute at the side or front of the machine and drops directly into a mixing bowl. These units are slightly larger, so they may not be a good choice if counter space is tight.
Check the fit of the processor lid. Besides keeping the ingredients inside the work bowl, it functions as a lock to prevent operation when foreign objects are in the mix. Considering the number of times the lid is put on and removed, it’s one of the first parts to break.
The bells and whistles
Manufacturers have loaded their food processors with accessories or special features. Here are just a few to consider:
- Waring Commercial’s line of processors features a blade-locking system; you can pour liquids directly out of the bowl without having to remove the blade.
- Transparent lids, such as the one on Electrolux Professional’s K70 model, help prevent the overprocessing of food.
- Certain models, like the Robot Coupe R602, offer two processing speeds. A slower speed prevents over-aerating sauces or batters.
- Disc racks keep discs organized and close by.
SELECTED 3-TO-4 QUART FOOD PROCESSORS AT A GLANCE
Dimensions (H x W x D)
17 x 11 x 13 in.
Continuous feed model available; 2 speeds
171/4 x 101/4 x 131/2 in.
Wide blades; built-in scraper; polycarbonate cover
Robot Coupe R402
173/16 x 811/16
Continuous feed vegetable prep attachment available; 2 speeds
Waring Commercial WFP145
16 x 71/4 x 111/2 in.
Continuous feed model available; blade-locking system; optional whipping disc