A ricer is a kitchen gadget that can be extraordinarily useful, since it's designed to break foods up into very small pieces. This can be especially handy for making mashed potatoes and other pureed foods. For young parents, it can make an excellent gift, since it is ideal for making baby food. Since these devices are somewhat obscure, someone giving one as a gift can also be assured that the parents are very unlikely to receive multiples. Many kitchen supply stores sell ricers with a variety of inserts, and they can also be found online.
The design of a ricer resembles an oversized garlic press. One side has an extrusion plate with a series of holes in it, while the other side is solid. Food is placed into the tool and the solid side is squeezed towards the extrusion plate, usually using the handles as leverage. The soft food compresses, and is ultimately forced out of the extrusion plate. The result looks like small grains of rice to some people, leading to the name for the device.
Using a ricer results in an even, creamy, fluffy puree. This device is idea for making mashed potatoes, producing a fluffy pile of potato mash that is creamy and soft even before dairy products have been added. Because it is commonly used for this purpose, some manufacturers call it a “potato ricer.” The tool can also be used to process cooked pumpkin for pies, or other vegetables for pureed dishes. Some manufacturers make ones with removable extrusion plates, allowing plates with holes of different diameters to be inserted for chefs who want to change the texture of the results.
The food mill is a related kitchen tool, and it operates on similar principles. It is designed to accommodate much more volume at once, however. Most food mills look like oversized sieves, with a large area to place food in and a hand crank to compress the food, forcing it out the bottom. For large meals, a food mill is more suitable than a ricer, and it can also be used for projects like deseeding tomatoes.
Aluminum is a common material used to make ricers, which are sometimes manufactured with plastic handles for easy gripping. When picking one out, shoppers should make sure that all of the parts, including the extrusion plate, will be easy to clean and avoid metals that may rust or discolor as a result of prolonged kitchen use. In most cases, the tool is dishwasher safe, but cooks with dishwashers may want to confirm that for their individual models.