Although we tend to think of food processors as one particular kind of appliance, there are actually several types of food processors. They all do the same basic task, which is to chop and mix the ingredients together. Knowing what’s available can help you make the right decision when choosing food processors. Much will be dependent on the size of your family. You’ll need something far more heavy duty when preparing food for four people than for one.
A blender is usually used for liquids or soft foods, but it’s a type of food processor. Some do come with attachments for chopping, although you’ll need to pay more for these models. With most models, you’ll have blades that are capable of crushing ice, which is useful for some cold drinks. As food processors,they're really only good for soft foods, such as berries and other fruits, so their usefulness is very limited.
A hand-operated chopper will work well for basic food processing, such as chopping onions and other vegetables. There will either be a bowl with the unit, or the vegetables will go on the chopping board. You have to press down on the top for the blades to cut. The great advantage to these is that they’re small and quick to clean and store, much more so than the full sized food processors. If you’re only cutting or dicing small amounts, these are perfect. Again, these have limited use, and can only chop, not mix the way motorized food processors can.
Mini Food Processors
In many ways, mini food processors are just more compact versions of the real things. They can do fewer tasks, and the bowl is smaller, so you can only work on less of any item at a time. For single people or those with small families, mini food processors can be perfect, however, and can perform many chopping and mixing activities. As long as you're happy with units that are essentially basic and can only process food in small quantities, a mini food processor can be ideal.
Full Sized Food Processors
These are what most people imagine when they think of food processors. The bowl will have a capacity of up to 12 cups and come with several different discs, each with a different function. The biggest and most expensive will even have a dough hook to enable you to mix bread. These tend to be very expensive.
Most full sized food processors have a feeding tube. This allows the cook to add ingredients gradually, while a lid with blades allows for the slicing of vegetables into the mix. A good food processor will have different speeds and also allow you to “pulse” the blades for a few seconds, which might be all you need. This offers you greater control over the unit. Prices will vary according to the accessories included with the unit. For the top brands with all the accessories, you should expect to pay a few hundred dollars. These will have powerful motors able to handle all types of jobs, however, and will last for many years.