GADGETS & GIZMOS: Food Mill
Food mills are like a combination of a sieve (or chinoise) and an electric blender or food processor. They remove seeds, peel, and pulp from fruits and vegetables. I primarily use food mills for making tomato sauce, soup and juice, but they're also great for applesauce, berry purees, baby food and creamy mashed potatoes.
The Spremy Electric Tomato Strainer (pictured above, $239 on Amazon.com) is my mill of choice. It separates seeds and skin and will produce a perfectly smooth tomato puree. It is made in Italy and can handle very large quantities in one session. The most I have done in a single session is about 300 pounds (as described in my post, Premium Hollister Red) but it could probably handle a lot more. With the Spremy, all you have to do is core the raw tomatoes and cut into pieces small enough to fit through the neck. You can do the same with apples—no stove-top preparation necessary.
If you don't want to spend the money on an expensive electric tomato mill, you can get similar results (much more elbow grease required, of course) with the hand-cranked Oxo Good Grips Food Mill (pictured below, $49 on Amazon.com).
When I've used the hand-cranked versions in the past to make a tomato puree, I've had to parboil the tomato in advance to make it easier to crank. The Oxo includes 3 stainless steel grinding discs for fine, medium and coarse textures. It has a release button that makes it easy to exchange discs and disassemble for storage. Three non-slip legs hold the Oxo securely over bowls and pots up to 11 inches in diameter. The legs also fold for easy storage.
While not a vitally necessary kitchen tool, a food mill can make the difference between a good dish and a great dish.