We’d probably all be hobby chefs if it weren’t for all these incredibly enticing recipes that look easy but end up requiring all types of strange kitchen gear we’ve never heard of before. Who knew cooking comes with so many accessories?
Take hash browns for example – a true breakfast staple that goes by different names and is served with different sides depending on where in the world you’re eating it. In the UK and the US, they’re served with all things savory: bacon, sausages, eggs and baked beans.
In Germany or Switzerland, on the other hand, these delightful potato treats are served with sweet apple sauce – delicious! The sides may vary but the process of preparation always stays the same.
And still, hash browns are notoriously easy and yet oh-so difficult to master. The simple reason being: it’s all about using the right tools.
Turn your potatoes into a pulp using a mixer and there will be no texture left for baking them into hash browns; leave them too coarse by chopping them, and they’ll be overly starchy. So, what tool is best to opt for when trying to perfect hash browns – a food mill or a ricer?
Know Your Tools: What is a Ricer?
Based on the term alone, a “ricer” is not exactly what comes to mind when we’re thinking of preparing potato recipes. A masher? Sure. A ricer? Sounds more like a mill one might use to sort rice kernels.
As it turns out, the ricer is not actually named after the food it is used for, but the size of the holes in the perforated hopper of what looks like an oversized garlic press. It essentially serves the same purpose as well, only instead of garlic, the ricer is used for potatoes.
This is why it is also commonly known as a “potato ricer”. While you could, potentially grate other cooked vegetables through a ricer, they typically need a stronger tool to break up their fibres properly.
A ricer will break your potatoes down into grated cheese sized strips, making them ideal for hash browns, oven gratins and other mashed potato recipes. It is easy to clean and does its jobs perfectly – you’ll never have to worry about braving hash browns again.
It is also an ideal gadget for hobby chefs who want all the best tools but lack the kitchen space. A ricer is small and compact and can be stored away easily.
While a ricer is definitely worth having, it does only serve the one purpose and can only work one potato at a time. If you’re looking for one tool with multiple functions, a ricer isn’t it.
What is the Best Use for Food Mills?
Now that you’ve finally discovered the secret tool for perfect hash browns, you might as well start working on your signature tomato sauce for pasta, lasagnas or chilli con carne. This is where a food mill will come in particularly handy.
A food mill looks the way it sounds – imagine an old school coffee grinder, only with a much larger capacity and two big blades that break down and squeeze cooked vegetables through its perforated base.
Discarding skin and seeds from your cooked fruits and vegetables, a food mill is the ideal tool for creamy purees, compote or a variety of salsas. There is also something extremely satisfying about the manual action of hand-cranking your food into its desired texture.
Unfortunately, a food mill isn’t the most convenient tool to have for tiny house dwellers – it’s quite chunky and takes up a lot of space. It is also on the pricier side and trickier to clean than a ricer.
To sum it all up – if you’re looking for a more versatile tool for your mash, sauces and other kitchen experiments, and have the space to store it, go with the food mill. If you’re merely looking to ensure a future of savoury or sweet hash brown breakfasts, opt for the ricer instead.