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Mashed Potatoes: Food Mill vs. Ricer

Im looking to replicate Joel Robuchon's purée de pommes de terre which he is famous for. For mashed potatoes, one can use a regular masher, a ricer, or a food mill, though a masher would be for something more rustic and chunky. Robuchon uses a a food mill fitted with the finest discs (im thinking a ricer wouldn't be useful in a high output kitchen) before combining with the other ingredients and finally passes the whole mixture through a tamis so fine, the mesh cannot be seen.

I dont have a food mill nor do I have a ricer and would only like to buy one of them. I realize that a food mill would be more versatile and better for larger amounts, but which is superior at performing this task? I've heard some claim that the food mill may lead to gummier potatoes, others say that they result in equivalent texture. Im looking for responses from those who've tried both. I know that both work fine but if it will lead to a slightly superior product, I want that one. As I dont like applesauce and I use canned tomatoes for tomato sauce, the versatility of a food mill isn't really attractive to me. Does the product processed through a ricer or food mill really differ in texture?

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  1. A Ricer will give you the best texture with no chance of glueyness. That said there is little else a Ricer is good for in contrast to a Food Mill ,as you said.

    4 Replies
    1. re: chefj

      So you're saying the texture is pretty different? Is this from experience?

      1. re: HououinKyouma

        Yes, this is from experience how else would I know?
        No, you can get the same texture but you can also get glueyness with a Food Mill which can not happen with a Ricer.
        You can also press the Potatoes directly through a Mesh, which is how we did these potatoes at the Restaurant.
        Robuchon also used a very low Starch Potato for this preparation. Since Butter makes up a third of the weight it is important to have a Potato that has a lot of flavor and very high quality Butter.

        1. re: chefj

          Thanks. Im convinced now that a ricer would be much better. Looks like im saving a ton of space and money.

          I use Lescure/Cabot 83 usually so im fine with the butter.

      2. re: chefj

        I agree with this assessment entirely. I find a ricer superior for mashed potatoes and use a small food mill for all other applications that call for such a thing. I find the ricer superior enough to keep it around for the one purpose.

      3. Hi, HK:

        If you're going to push the spuds through a fine tamis anyway, I'm not sure it matters.

        That being said, when it comes to regular mashed potatoes, I prefer the ricer. The food mills I've used don't seem to push the potatoes through fast or firmly enough to keep the mash airy, and they seem to have a much greater "slop factor", not to mention being a PITA to clean. Just my experience.


        1 Reply
        1. re: kaleokahu

          I may not always push it through a tamis. Sometimes I might not have the patience as putting it through the the sieve takes a lot of effort. So its definitely important how the product compares after using these tools.

          In this video, the potatoes didn't have any "slop factor" and appear to be just as loose as those that come out of a ricer :
          Just curious. What food mills have you used so I know what to avoid? I would have liked to get the one in the video but have no idea what brand it is. Right now, im considering the Eurodib X3 food mill. I know Rosle and vintage Foley is popular here. Didn't want the Rosle as its made in China but would have jumped on it had I found a made in Germany one (did they even ever produce one in Germany???). And im a little hesitant when it comes to vintage tools with moving parts so Foley is out of the question.

        2. Hi HK -

          Having had both, I can add a little colour to the comparison.

          First, both items the food mill and ricer were manufactured by Rösle (no surprise there). Since the local diet here is all about potatoes, barley, and cheese, and has been for centuries, we thought it would be useful. We also bought multiple discs for the food mill which were not included, whilst the ricer purchase included two different inserts.

          The food mill was easy to operate, and delivered a uniform potato mass. Perhaps too uniform, as your description of "gummier" potatoes, sounds very accurate.
          At this point my wife decided that her hand effort would be better served by using her stainless steel potato masher. The food mill was then relegated to sauce, Coulis, and other purées.

          At some point one afternoon I suggested using our other tool, the Rösle Spätzlepresse, or ricer. This is the second one we have owned and compared to the ancient French model we had, and much easier on the hands to use. My wife took a dim view of this suggestion, but on I went to the task. After all, the tool makes great Spätzle, right ?. ( I should have listened to her ) Unfortunately, it again was too uniform, no lumps, but not " gummy. "

          So today if cooking our version of purée de pommes, the wife is in charge, and she uses what works best for her, which is the potato masher. I would add a caution not to try only one recipe for this dish, as there are a number of varietals out there, some quite different in consistency and taste. Hence the suggestion of the simple hand masher, at least to start with.

          Note that of the three, all can be hand or machine dish-washed, but the single masher is quick and easy to clean.

          Our food press went up with us to a rental property we have, and was "borrowed" later by a renter from Portugal, never to return. Not the right thing to do of course, but we don't miss it, and it was not replaced.

          I hope this is helpful

          2 Replies
          1. re: SWISSAIRE

            A masher is all I've known so I have my past experiences to compare it to. So looks like you're leaning towards the ricer, though you didn't like it that much either. And by too uniform im thinking you mean you want a bit of texture???

            And of course. Variety is the spice of life. It would get a little boring trying the same thing over and over. Just looked to Robuchon as his version is perhaps the most famous. Might even add a little twist to his recipe and add a little garlic confit. Plus, his recipe might be a little too rich to be a regular recipe. His puree is 50% butter though its rumored he may have used even more. I also value my life.

            Hopefully when I try this out, I may not discover what everyone means by gummy. Thanks for your insight.

            btw...is your Rosle food mill made In Germany or China??? Its been bugging me as to whether they were ever manufactured there. One store told me they were always manufactured in China but Sur La Table still has a page up showing the discs used to be made in Germany.

            1. re: HououinKyouma

              Hi HK -

              We purchased the mill + sieve discs in Germany.

              I'm not sure where it was manufactured originally, but I am quite sure it won't be replaced.

          2. For me it's a ricer. It's more affordable, compact, able to be used on more than potatoes and performs consistently without going back and forth to clean the blade.

            1. I have both a ricer and a food mill but I prefer to mash potatoes with a masher.

              I have done potatoes with both the mill and the ricer and I think the ricer is a lot easier but the mill gives more delicate results.

              1. I have all these devices. I use the ricer most often, as it's easier to clean. I mash if I want a rustic style. I might get the mill out when I need major quantities. (My mill is tinned aluminum, so it has to be hand-washed.)

                1. For potaotes I use a masher as well.
                  Ihave two different types.

                  Open weave give me rustic mash, while the UK made unit I have has a flat plate with openings that give a smooth and creamy finshed product.

                  I also have and on occasion do use a ricer. I like it for it's all around adapability.

                  I alos have a nice ricer I bought at Williams Sonoma a decade ago with sevral discs that I used once or twice and tossed it into a box in the basement where it sits now. Was not cheap.

                  Too fussy and messy for mashed potaotes for me. And slow.
                  For fresh spatzle I use a modded pancake flipper now and for gnocchi I use a graeter or the fine masher.

                  Some love ricers. I just find it too fussy. And I;m a tool guy.
                  Go figgure, LOLZ.

                  1. I've tried a hand masher and a ricer. The hand masher is okay. The ricer always seems to produce cold mashed potatoes. My preferred method is a Kitchen-aid mixer. Makes a giant bowl of hot mashed potatoes, perfectly whipped.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Antilope

                      Aren't whipped potatoes something else again? Not really the same as mashed, but delicious as well. I grew up on Kitchen Aid whipped potatoes. For mashed, I use a potato masher. I think Cooks Illustrated did an article on whipped potato recipes a few years ago.

                    2. I have the ricer and have used it. I find that peeling the potatoes then steaming is my preferred method. Add milk and butter to same pan after removing basket. Heat on low. Then just mashing with the old fashioned potato masher. I never noticed the difference from the ricer. It's all about the potato to liquid ratio. No glueyness.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: emglow101

                        Interesting how you brought up steaming. Robuchon instructs you to dry the potatoes because hot water dissolves the amylose molecules in the starch granules and causes the starch granules to swell and break. The amylose then leaks out and gets released into the water, then causing starch gelatinization aka gooeyness. I can definitely see steaming the potatoes minimizing this occurrence.

                      2. IME, the ricer leads to fluffier spuds than either the masher (chunky, as you noted) or the food mill, which can yield slightly gummy results. I read something several years ago that mentioned starch globules (or some such) that, when overly processed, can burst open and lead to a more starchy finished product. I may have mangled the info somewhat, but think I've got the point of it right. I think the mill, which smashes the potatoes more than the ricer does, may be subject to this.

                        FWIW, IME the spuds from the ricer are quite superior to those made in a KA mixer. I tend to use a masher for just me and the Dude, but like to take the time to get it right with the ricer when we've got guests.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: DuffyH

                          Yup...heard this as well. The gooeyness comes from the breaking of the starch granules and the release of amylose into the water. You want to limit the breaking of the potato cells, otherwise thats what you get. Though some will claim that the food mill also limits the amount of mechanical stress on the cells just as much as a ricer does. Thanks to everyone though, im saving my money and getting a ricer.

                        2. I like the ricer way better than the food mill.
                          I love Heston blumenthal and he has some great videos online. He has a video on perfect mashed potatoes using a stick blender by breville called sage, which has a special attachment that, apparently, makes mashed potatoes as silky as riced and tamis passed potatoes. He created the blender and really worth checking out. I couldn't add the attachment, sorry.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: DowntownJosie

                            Heston pretty much uses the same exact proportions as Robuchon. Actually...this seems to be the same exact recipe just with some minor differences. Robuchon keeps the peelings on the potatoes when he boils them to minimize absorption of water by the potato. Love how Heston infuses the milk with the peelings so I'll definitely do that. I'll also use his temperature suggestion as well. The lime jelly cubes are definitely a great idea too. I saw the Breville but I dont think I trust it to last for years.