This low-tech, high-efficiency gadget is key for smooth mashed potatoes, easy applesauce, and more.

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food mill being used to make mashed potatoes
Credit: Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

From turning cooked apples into wholesome applesauce, freshly stewed tomatoes into a classic marinara, or steamed potatoes into comforting mash, the food mill proves its standing by being masterful with ingredients that are notoriously fussy to prep. Think of a food mill as being the low-tech version of a food processor—there's no plug or motor, just a hand-crank that moves with a little help from you and your biceps. What can a food mill do that a processor can't? For starters, the sharp blade of a food processor will turn your dream of fluffy mashed potatoes into a gluey nightmare faster than you can say buttermilk. And just ask any homesteader or canning enthusiast what their favorite time-saving tools are, and you can bet the food mill is right up there at the top of the list. This is because a food mill can simultaneously purée and strain foods so efficiently that it renders the once tedious task of peeling fruit and vegetables obsolete.

A standard food mill consists of three parts: a bowl, a perforated plate that sits at the bottom, and the aforementioned hand-crank that is responsible for moving the metal blade that pushes the food through the plate. The result of this old-timey churning is a smooth purée without a seed, peel, pit, or stem in sight! Here are a few of our favorite food mills; pick your fighter, then roll up your sleeves (or better yet, put your kids to work!) and get cranking.

All-Clad Food Mill

Built to last, All-Clad's food m ill, pictured above, will make quick work of a bushel of apples. It's worth the investment if you're an avid canner or jammer; it's a game-changer for making a vat of seedless raspberry preserves.

Shop Now: All-Clad Food Mill, $129.95, williams-sonoma.com.

food mill with tomatoes
Credit: Courtesy of Oxo

OXO Food Mill

This food mill from OXO is a more affordable option that will still bring a satisfying efficiency to making sauce come tomato season. Notable for being easy and comfortable to use, it includes a quick-release button for the three interchangeable discs (for fine, medium, and coarse textures), so you can spend less time with assembly and more time making sauce.

Shop Now: OXO Good Grips® Food Mill, $49.99, oxo.com.

food mill shown with fresh fruit
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Küchenprofi Professional Stainless Steel Vegetable Mill

This sturdy food mill of German construction will last a lifetime and comes with four different disks—the extra-fine perforation is particularly useful when straining the extra-small seeds from raspberries and tomatoes.

Shop Now: Küchenprofi Professional Stainless Steel Vegetable Mill, $69.74, amazon.com.

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