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Must-Have Kitchen Tools Recommended by Ina Garten

Ina Garten encourages home cooks to have several kitchen gadgets stocked at home to help put together meals with ease and efficiency. One of her recommended devices may require a visit to the local antiques or thrift store to track down — a food mill. 

Food mills first entered the culinary world in the 1920s, long before electric blenders and food processors found their way onto kitchen countertops. The invention was made with steel and coated in tin to protect against rust. Chefs often prefer using food mills because purees made with the handheld device are thicker than foods blended in food processors. Since air isn’t whipped into the ingredients during the blending process, the resulting mash of foods is denser. Garten is one such chef.

To NYT Cooking, Garten explains food mills are ideal for creating texturally rich foods. “So it’s not just like baby food,” she explains. That said, food mills can also be used to make baby food, soups, preserves, or applesauce from scratch. The gadget can handle hot and cold foods and both peeled and unpeeled produce. Additionally, should a power outage strike, you won’t need to worry about not being able to use your trusty food processor since food mills can be handled without the need for electricity. 

Old can be gold

food mill grinding tomatoes

Leesa Rittelmann/Instagram

The hand-powered device is cranked to rotate discs that can puree and smooth foods. Seeds and skins are captured in the base of the mill, resulting in a smooth paste. Since these mills are powered by hand, you can cook ingredients to make work a bit easier if you have your heart set on making creamy garlic mashed potatoes or a pumpkin pie from scratch. Grinding up roasted tomatoes to make Garten’s tomato soup can help you create texture in your dish and surprise diners with a thick, smooth dish to spoon into. 

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Consider using the food mill to make creamy baby food and foods friendly to those with health issues. You can use a mixture of blended bananas to incorporate in banana bread recipes. Since little has changed about this decades-old device, if you come across one at a garage sale or receive one at a friend’s moving party, you can save yourself a bit of money instead of splurging on buying a brand new one.

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