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Food mill rookie in need of help

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So I finally got around to using the food mill we received as a wedding present last night...looking to puree some pasta sauce. I am pretty sure I totally screwed it up, since what came out was only the thinnest of liquid, leaving most everything in the basket. Using the largest disc, I locked the blade in place and did the requisite turning, but I don't think there was enough downward pressure to push the rest through. After three tries, I gave in and used a food processor.

I want to start using the food mill for sauces, soups, spaetzle and baby food, but after last night it seems I don't know how to properly use it. Is there a special (or basic) technique that I'm missing?

Thanks for any help.

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  1. This may be stating the obvious, but are your sure you turned it in the right direction? Also, there is a fairly heavy spring near where the handle fits onto the rest of the mill, right? (There should be.) Otherwise, I really can't imagine what's going on - you shouldn't need to apply much downward pressure.

    4 Replies
    1. re: MikeG

      I turned it clockwise. And yes, I locked the handle into the disc with the spring - I couldn't figure it out, either. Downward pressure was an outright guess. I'd love to find a diagram for use, or some such - to find out what I'm doing wrong if nothing else!

      1. re: King B

        Clockwise sounds right - the high end of the paddle should be moving against the food, shoving it down under the "wedge" as it turns. If you turn it without any food in there, do you hear a fairly strong scraping sound? If not, you could try pulling the coils of the spring apart a little to increase the tension.

        The only other thing I can possibly think of is that the disc was facing the wrong way, but on the mills I've seen, you can't even put it together "wrong" - the pieces just won't fit.

        1. re: MikeG

          Every now and then you have to turn the blade counter clockwise to get the larger ingredients in the food mill under the blade; then you go back to turning clockwise. You shouldn't have to exert any, or very little, pressure to get food through the mill.

          1. re: micki

            That's what I was going to say. Once in awhile, give it a turn the other way to get more stuff underneath. I have both the old Foley and a new All-Clad (from ebay) and they both work fine for tomatoes and grapes and sandplums.

    2. I have a very good metal food mill made in France and it is nothing but a pain in the ass to use. I've got to exert a lot pressure to mill canned plum tomatoes and it does a poor job of crushing the larger pieces.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Scagnetti

        Yeah those imports are a waste. The good old Foley food mill is the way to go.

      2. In addition to checking that the disc is facing the right way, another common rookie mistake--or at least one that I made, also in a tomato sauce attempt--is using the wrong disc. If you're not sure which one, go for the larger holes. If the result is too thick you can always run it through a finer one.

        Don't give up on the food mill though--once you get used to it you will love it!

        1. I just got back from Greece and Italy. The cookbook that I bought refers to using a food mill in almost every recipe. So I bought one. There were no instructions. I wrote the supplier. He said, "Sorry, they don't come with instructions." Well, darn.

          So here I am on the Internet trying to figure out the same thing KingB's up against. Do I cook the tomatoes first? Do they need to be peeled? Does the food mill peel the tomatoes? What about seeds? Will the larger of the three discs I got keep the seeds out?

          Help if you can. The food I had in Greece was some of the best food I have ever put in my mouth. I'm desperate to recreate it if possible.

          Thanks!!
          TereL