A food processor and juicer may appear to perform the same tasks—transforming solid foods into a semi-solid state, somewhere between spreadable and sippable. These kitchen gadgets aim toward making meal prep easier. So which one should you go for?
A food processor is a kitchen appliance used to knead, grate, slice, mince, chop, blend, and puree different foods. On the other hand, a juicer is used to extract nutritious juices from fruits and vegetables using pressure and multiple blades to cut, crush and squeeze ingredients.
In this article, we’ll help you understand the differences and similarities between these two kitchen gadgets. We’ll explain how each of them works, their advantages and disadvantages, and eventually, help you to make an informed decision as to which one to go for. Let’s begin!
Food Processor: A Basic Overview
Generally, a food processor comes with a wide shallow bowl, a sharp blade positioned low in the bowl, and a moderately strong and effective motor. The sharp blades and motor combination allow for a motion similar to that of a kitchen knife cutting through food substances.
These kitchen tools come bundled with a series of interchangeable blades to improve their efficiency and allow for effective grating, slicing, mincing, chopping, and even kneading dough.
This indispensable kitchen appliance comes in various bowl sizes depending on the average cup capacity it can accommodate. The basic sizes available are:
- Mini-size: Fits between 2 to 5 cups (473.18 to 1,182.94 ml)
- Compact size: Accommodates 5 to 7 cups (1,182.94 to 1,656.12 ml)
- Full size: Has a capacity of 9 to 13 cups (2,129.29 to 3,075.65 ml)
The mini-size food processors are limited in functionalities but are still efficient at performing smaller tasks. Therefore, if you have a smaller family, you can get a mini or compact size medium-sized processor. The full-size processors are ideal for people handling large meal preps or for commercial purposes.
Today, some models come with large and small bowls that you can use on the same base.
How Does a Food Processor Work?
Anytime you think of getting a kitchen appliance, one of the things that come to your mind is its ease of use. How technical is the equipment? Will it be too complicated for you or any member of your household to use?
We all wish to buy handy equipment that doesn’t require special skills to operate. Luckily, a food processor is an easy-to-use versatile kitchen device that saves on time and energy.
So, how does a food processor work?
Part of understanding how a food processor works include understanding the basic components that aid in its functionality.
Regardless of the model or size of a food processor, there are three basic components:
- A motor
- A clear bowl with a feed tube and lid
- A set of blades/ attachments
The motor is the heart of the processor and is housed in the base of this device. It’s this component that makes the base the heaviest part of the appliance.
The weighty base has a practical value in that it increases the stability of the device to ensure it doesn’t move when the motor is running.
There’s a shaft that extends upwards from the motor to help power the attachments and connect the bowl to the base. The bowl, often made of durable, clear/ transparent plastic material, is designed to fit into the shaft and securely lock into position.
The bowl comes with a lid made of a similar material designed to lock into it perfectly. For some models, the locking mechanism between the bowl, the lid, and the bowl and the shaft turns the motor on.
However, newer models come with a power switch or button containing the on, off, and pulse instructions.
The lid has a feeding tube that comes with a plunger. The feeding tube allows you to insert food into the bowl while pushing it down using the plunger. Depending on the model you get, it may come with wider and narrower feeding tubes allowing you to insert larger and smaller food items with ease.
Last but not least, the other basic component is a set of attachments. Generally, the attachments fit over the shaft in the bowl. The standard attachments are an S-shaped blade (Sabatier blade) and slicing or shredding discs.
The S-shaped blade sits at the bottom of the bow. While the slicing and shredding discs at the top of the bowl (over the shaft).
Other additional blades or attachments include:
- Knife blade: Also known as the main or multi-purpose blade; it’s used to puree, chop, mash, mix or mince ingredients
- Dough blade: Used to make bread or pizza dough
- Egg whip: Used for beating eggs and whipping creams by incorporating air to give a fluffy end product
- Citrus juicer: Squeezes juice from grapes, oranges, limes, and lemons
- Non-citrus juicer: Purees other fruits and vegetables
- Julienne disc: Cuts ingredients into long thin pieces
- French fry disc: Yields larger, fatter pieces than the julienne disc
Step by Step Guide
A food processor is one of the best kitchen appliances for all your chopping needs. It allows for high-end precision, and the result is evenly chopped food substances. Additionally, it’s effective in blending/ mixing ingredients together.
Now that you have an idea of the various interrelated components of a food processor, let’s look at a step by step guide on how to use this versatile kitchen appliance:
- Plug it in. The first most obvious step is to plug your processor into a power source.
- Attach the bowl. In most models, the bowl is attached over the base and locks into the shaft.
- Choose your attachment or blade. The attachment or blade you choose depends on the end product you want to achieve. The most commonly used blade is the main blade, also known as the knife or multi-purpose blade. It’s efficient in chopping, mincing, mashing, mixing, and pureeing different ingredients.
- Toss your ingredients. Once you have assembled your processor and attached the right blade, the next step is to toss in your ingredients. Depending on your recipe, you may be required to add everything at once or do it in intervals. Once you’ve added the ingredients, ensure you securely close the lid.
- Chop large ingredients. Some larger ingredients may require chopping before tossing them in. Additionally, if you’re using liquids, be careful not to exceed the contents beyond the fill line.
- Switch it on. With your ingredients resting in the processor and the lid closed, you can now turn on your device. If it doesn’t run, check to ensure the lid is securely closed. When turning on your processor, you can decide to have the motor running continuously or use the pulse function depending on the end texture you want to get.
- Watch the magic happen. Now, watch through the transparent bowl as your ingredients transform. If need be, you may add more ingredients depending on your recipe. Before adding any extra ingredient, you should first turn off your device and turn it back on after you’ve securely closed the lid.
- Switch it off. Once you’re satisfied with the results, turn off the device and empty your content. If needed, you may use a spatula that often comes with the processor to pour out the contents.
- Clean the processor. After emptying the bowl, clean all the parts and allow them to dry before reassembling them for storage. When washing your device, don’t immerse the motor base in water. Just use a paper cloth or a damp towel to wipe it clean.
Pros of a Food Processor
Here are some of the advantages you get from using this wonder appliance:
- Versatile. It can perform numerous tasks efficiently. Talk of grating, chopping, mincing, mixing, kneading, among other meal preparation tasks you may think of.
- Cuts down on the otherwise lengthy meal preparation time
- A great way to make healthy savory meals
- Best at chopping ingredients evenly
- Great for amateurs. It’s easy to use even for individuals without prior culinary experience.
Cons of a Food Processor
Here are the drawbacks of a food processor:
- You can’t use it for large volumes of liquid as they can easily splash out.
- Combines liquids and solids in a thicker consistency; hence not ideal if you want a watery soup.
Juicer: A Basic Overview
Having a glass of fresh juice is considered a healthy and luxurious treat by many. Therefore, if you cherish fresh juices, cleansers, and other healthy drinks, then having a juicer will be an ideal addition to your wide range of kitchen appliances.
As the name suggests, a juicer is an indispensable kitchen appliance that comes in handy when extracting fresh and healthy juice from fruits and vegetables. It works by squeezing or pressing fruits and vegetables to extract healthy drinks.
Generally, juicers come in different models, powers, and sizes. The more powerful the model, the higher the efficiency in turning even the toughest vegetables and fruits into a nutritious liquid.
Basic Components of a Juicer
And while juicers differ in models and efficiency of use, some basic components are found in most standard juicers. They include:
- Motor: It’s the part of the juicer that initiates the movement of other essential parts. It’s powered by electrical power to create mechanical movements.
- Housing or base: It’s the base of this countertop appliance that houses the motor.
- Receptacle/hopper/feeding chute: The part where you drop your fruits, grasses, or vegetables for juicing. The larger it is, the larger the ingredients you can pour in.
- Plunge/pusher: A plastic or wooden accessory that pushes ingredients down the hopper into the bowl.
- Auger: The rotating screw blade effective in crushing or grinding ingredients to produce juice.
- Bowl/basket: The part of the juicer where the food substances are crushed, squeezed, and juiced.
- Strainer/ sieve: A fine mesh comes in different hole sizes to separate the pulp or fruit and vegetable peels from the juice.
- Juice container: The part where the fresh, healthy juice empties into ready for drinking or storage. It’s mainly made of glass or clear plastic.
- Pulp container: This Is where the pulp from the ingredients goes. It can be made of stainless steel or plastic.
How Does a Juicer Work?
Generally, the way a juicer extracts juice from fresh ingredients varies from one model to another. Some use fast-moving blades to cut and chop your ingredients, while others use a slow-paced cold pressing mechanism.
Therefore, to understand how different juicers work, we’ll have to discuss the various types available. And they include:
- Citrus juicers
- Centrifugal juicers
- Cold press/ masticating juicers
- Twin gear juicers
Types of Juicers
Any juicer available in the market is capable of extracting juice from citrus fruits. However, if all your juicing needs revolve around citrus fruits such as oranges, lime, and lemons, it’s not worth investing in the pricey models.
Citrus juicers are a more economical model that works well with citrus fruits. You’ll find this type of juicer listed as a citrus press or an OJ juicer in most cases.
Citrus press juicers are ideal if you aren’t looking into branching into using grasses, other fruits, and veggies to make your juices. Additionally, they’re a good option if you don’t intend to make large quantities of juice in one go.
They work by crushing and pressing your citrus fruits to produce citrus juices.
Centrifugal juicers are also called juice extractors, and they’re among the most popular juicers on the market. They come bundled with sharp fast-moving blades for chopping your ingredients and mesh-like filters or strainers to separate the pulp from the freshly extracted juice.
If you’re looking to juice a wide range of fruits and vegetables, this model will be ideal for you. However, they’re not so good with wheatgrass, herbs, and some leafy vegetables.
And as much as this juicer accommodates a wide range of food substances, most of the parent ingredients’ nutrients end up being separated as a part of the pulp. Hence the end product (juice) will be less nutritious than if prepared using other models such as the cold press juicers.
Some centrifugal models produce some noise and often require much time and effort to clean.
Cold Press Juicers
Cold press juicers are also known as single-gear, masticating, or slow juicers. They’re often pricier than other models but are also more efficient in producing large amounts of nutritious juices.
Just as their name suggests, they use a slow cold press mechanism that works in the same way as the chewing movement in your mouth. Meaning this juicer presses every last drop out of your ingredients. As a result, they may take longer to extract juice compared to other models in the market.
It works well, even for wheatgrass and herbs, which produce very little juice with centrifugal juicers. Generally, cold press juicers are a good option for any ingredient you want to use. And beyond the basic fruits and veggies, you can also use them in making baby food or turning nuts into nut butter.
On the downside, these juicers are expensive, take longer to extract the juice, and are hard to clean. However, on the positive side, they accommodate a wide range of ingredients, retain more nutrients in the end product, have a higher juice yield, and are much quieter than other models.
If you’re a dedicated juicer concerned about the level of nutrients in your juice, this is the right juicer for you.
Twin Gear Juicers
This model of juicers is also referred to as dual-gear juicers or triturating juicers. Twin gear juicers are more expensive than cold press juicers and often produce a higher amount of juice with high nutrient content. They’re designed to answer the question of quantity and nutrient content.
Generally, they work by pressing ingredients between two highly effective interlocking gears at a slower pace than the masticating juicers. As a result, they ensure ingredients are pressed to the last bit, producing a high quantity of nutrient-rich juice.
Triturating juicers can be difficult to clean, pricey, and aren’t good for citrus fruits and other soft ingredients; they’re too powerful. However, on the positive side, these juicers are quiet, produce a high quantity of nutrient-rich juice, and their juice stays fresh longer.
Their slow extraction process reduces oxidation meaning the juice produced can stay fresh a little longer than if made using other models.
Therefore, if you’re serious about health and nutrition matters, this is the perfect juicer for you. Let’s just say it’s ideal for juicing enthusiasts!
Step by Step Guide
A juicer is best for extracting healthy juices from fruits, vegetables, herbs, and wheatgrass. If you’re a fan of healthy juices, this is an ideal kitchen appliance for you.
Here is a simple step by step guide on how to use a juicer:
- Assemble your juicer. Ensure all the essential parts of your device are assembled. If you aren’t sure how to go about it, you may refer to your device’s user manual. The vital components include the collection bowl, pulp collector, juice collector, auger, lid, and feeding chute.
- Prepare your ingredients. Now, wash all the ingredients you need to use. If they require peeling, do it. However, it isn’t really necessary to peel your fruits, as most nutrients are found in the skin.
- Toss the ingredients into the juicer. Add your ingredients into the juicer. Some larger fruits and vegetables may need chopping or slicing for them to fit in the juicer perfectly.
- Switch on the juicer. Once everything is ready, connect your juicer to a power source and turn it on. You may need to adjust your speed depending on the ingredients you’re using.
- Juicing operation. Allow the juicer to do what it does best (extracting juice). Once it’s done, you can check the pulp, and if there’s still more juice in it, you can reuse it. However, some models, such as the cold press or triturating juicers, are thorough in juicing.
- Switch off the juicer. Once you’re content with the result, turn off the juicer and remove your juice and the pulp. Enjoy the juice and use the pulp, maybe for other meal preps, or throw it away.
- Clean the juicer. Upon emptying all the content, disable your juicer and clean all the components. Allow them to air dry before reassembling them back or storing them away.
Pros of Juicers
Here are the pros of this countertop kitchen gadget:
- Efficient at giving juices with a smooth consistency.
- A juicer makes it affordable and easy to consume healthy juices.
- Perfectly juiced pure fresh juices contain many nutrients vital for children, adults, and seniors.
- Adds variety to your fruits and veggies options: Through juicing, you get to consume fruits, veggies, and herbs that aren’t always on the list of your favorite foods.
- Reduces waste: Juicing allows you to use overly ripe fruits which would otherwise be difficult to consume in their natural state. As a result, you can reduce wastage.
Cons of Juicers
Here are some downsides of using a juicer:
- A lot of waste: From the non-juice content (pulp) that remains once the juice is extracted.
- Some juicers are noisy.
- Not all juicers are easy to carry around and wash; they’re bulky.
Food Processor vs. Juicer
Generally, the main difference between these two countertop kitchen appliances is the end product extracted from each of them.
While they both follow the same mechanism of transforming solid food ingredients into a semi-solid or liquid state, food processors yield evenly chopped ingredients as per your standards. Additionally, if you’re looking to blend or mix ingredients, the processor will do it perfectly.
On the other hand, a juicer only produces consistent thickness juices, depending on how you want them.
Additionally, a food processor performs a wide range of kitchen tasks such as grating, chopping, mincing, slicing, and kneading. On the other hand, a juicer is only restricted to juicing.
Therefore, it’s clear that you can’t use these two indispensable devices interchangeably. For efficiency, it’s a good idea to have both of these countertop tools in your kitchen.