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Mashed potatoes: Nicer with a ricer!

The potato ricer: an uncommon, but incredibly useful, kitchen tool

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The potato ricer: an uncommon, but incredibly useful, kitchen tool
Copyright Megan Silea, 2010

Perhaps you've never heard of, or seen, a potato ricer, but chances are you've experienced what one can do and just never realized it. Ever been to a restaurant that served mashed potatoes so soft and velvety smooth that you just couldn't believe it? More than likely that chef used a potato ricer to get those results.

Through the process of extrusion, cooked potatoes (or other root vegetables) are pressed through small holes. The result is  light, fluffy potatoes that resemble grains of rice. These potato "grains" can then be very quickly and easily stirred into light, fluffy, smooth mashed potatoes. One bit of advice: when adding milk (or cream) and butter to the "riced" potatoes, be sure those ingredients have been warmed prior to stirring them into the potatoes. Cooked potatoes cool off very quickly when put through a ricer; adding cold milk and butter to them is a sure way to guarantee that the dish will be cold by the time it hits the table.

One other note: manufacturers like to say that potatoes can be put in the ricer with the peel still on. While this is technically true, both the preparation and clean-up process will be much more tolerable if the potatoes are peeled.

When considering which potato ricer to buy, take the following characteristics into consideration:

  • Capacity - you want the ricer to hold more than one or two potatoes at a time
  • Ease of cleaning - is it dishwasher safe? Does it come apart?
  • Durability - a good, sturdy model should be made of metal, not plastic
  • Comfort - make sure the handle isn't too big or too small for your hands, and that you are able to comfortably squeeze the ricer effectively
  • Price - while the most expensive product isn't always the best, the cheapest model usually won't last very long or perform very well. Any cost savings on the purchase price won't matter much if the product breaks the second time you use it and you have to buy another one.

Locally, potato ricers are available at Williams-Sonoma, 7615 W Farmington (in Saddle Creek), Germantown or at Bed Bath & Beyond (4 locations in the Memphis area, including Saddle Creek, Wolfchase, Collierville, and White Station).

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