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Food Mill vs. Food Strainer: A Comprehensive Guide

October 17, 2023 4 min read

Food Mill vs. Food Strainer: A Comprehensive Guide - Maria's Condo

  1. Are you in need of a versatile kitchen tool that can help you achieve smooth and pureed foods without the hassle of seeds, skins, or stems? Look no further than the food mill and the food strainer. These culinary devices have been used for decades to create delicious sauces, soups, and purees. While they serve a similar purpose, there are distinct differences between the two. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the features, uses, and benefits of both the food mill and the food strainer. By the end, you'll have a clear understanding of which tool is best suited for your culinary needs.

    Understanding the Food Mill

    A food mill, also known as a passatutto, purée sieve, moulinette, mouli légumes, or passe-vite, is a kitchen utensil specifically designed for mashing and sieving soft foods. It was first invented in Brussels in 1928 by Victor Simon, and since then, it has become a staple in many kitchens worldwide. The food mill consists of three main parts: a bowl, a bottom plate with perforated holes, and a crank fitted with a bent metal blade. The bowl is used to hold the food, while the bottom plate and crank work together to crush the food and force it through the holes, creating a smooth puree.

    Key Features of a Food Mill

    • Versatile: The food mill can handle a wide range of foods, including cooked tomatoes, apples, potatoes, and more.
    • Interchangeable Plates: Some food mills come with interchangeable plates that allow you to achieve different textures and consistencies in your purees.
    • Sturdy Construction: Food mills are typically made of stainless steel or aluminum, ensuring durability and longevity.
    • Easy Assembly and Cleaning: Most food mills are designed for easy assembly and disassembly, making them a breeze to clean after use.

    Benefits of Using a Food Mill

    Using a food mill offers several advantages when it comes to creating smooth and seed-free purees. Here are some key benefits:

    1. Efficient Straining: The food mill effectively separates the seeds, skins, and stems from your puree, ensuring a smooth and velvety texture.
    2. Waste Reduction: With a food mill, you can process fruits and vegetables with their skins and seeds intact, minimizing food waste.
    3. Easy Operation: The crank handle of a food mill offers a manual yet straightforward way to process your food, allowing for control over the speed and consistency of the puree.
    4. Versatility: Whether you're making tomato sauce, applesauce, or mashed potatoes, a food mill can handle it all, making it a versatile tool in the kitchen.

    Exploring the Food Strainer

    While a food mill is ideal for achieving smooth purees, a food strainer serves a different purpose in the kitchen. A food strainer, also known as a sieve, tamis, china cap, or chinoise, is primarily used for separating solids from liquids. It consists of a mesh screen attached to a frame, allowing liquid to pass through while capturing larger particles.

    Key Features of a Food Strainer

    • Fine Mesh Screen: The food strainer features a fine mesh screen that effectively strains out solids while allowing liquids to flow through.
    • Different Sizes: Food strainers come in various sizes, allowing you to choose the one that best suits your needs.
    • Lightweight and Portable: Food strainers are typically lightweight and easy to handle, making them convenient to use in any kitchen setting.

    Benefits of Using a Food Strainer

    While the food strainer may not provide the same level of versatility as a food mill, it offers its own set of benefits. Here are some advantages of using a food strainer:

    1. Efficient Separation: The fine mesh screen of a food strainer effectively separates solids from liquids, ensuring a smooth and consistent texture in your sauces and soups.
    2. Quick and Easy: Using a food strainer is a fast and efficient way to strain out unwanted particles from your liquids.
    3. Versatile Uses: Food strainers are not limited to straining liquids. They can also be used for sifting dry ingredients or dusting powdered sugar onto desserts.
    4. Easy Cleanup: Food strainers are typically easy to clean and can be conveniently stored due to their compact size.

    Food Mill vs. Food Strainer: Choosing the Right Tool

    Now that we've explored the features and benefits of both the food mill and the food strainer, it's time to determine which tool is best suited for your needs. Consider the following factors when making your decision:

    1. Purpose: If you primarily need a tool for creating smooth and seed-free purees, a food mill is the way to go. However, if you require a tool for separating solids from liquids or sifting dry ingredients, a food strainer is more suitable.
    2. Versatility: If you want a kitchen tool that can handle a wide range of foods and provide different textures, a food mill is the more versatile option.
    3. Convenience: Food mills often require manual operation, while food strainers are quicker and easier to use. Consider your preference for the level of effort required in the food preparation process.

    Ultimately, the choice between a food mill and a food strainer depends on your specific culinary needs and preferences. Both tools can be valuable additions to your kitchen arsenal, so consider investing in both if you frequently work with a variety of ingredients.


    In summary, the food mill and the food strainer are essential tools for achieving smooth and pureed foods in the kitchen. While the food mill excels at creating seed-free purees with different textures, the food strainer shines in separating solids from liquids. Consider your specific needs and preferences to determine which tool is the best fit for your culinary adventures. Whether you choose the food mill, the food strainer, or both, these versatile kitchen gadgets will undoubtedly elevate your cooking and baking endeavors.

    Remember, the key to successful cooking lies in having the right tools at your disposal, so equip yourself with a food mill or a food strainer and unlock a world of culinary possibilities.


    For more information on food mills and food strainers, check out the following resources:

    1. Webstaurant Store - Food Mills Buying Guide
    2. The Spruce Eats - A Guide to Understanding and Using a Food Mill
    3. Homesteading Today - Food Mill or Food Strainer?

Marias Condo
Marias Condo

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