How to Buy a Potato Masher: Two Types Explained


Photo by 2102033 from Pixabay

Potato is a staple food in many countries in the world that is prepared, cooked and enjoyed in many different ways.  Mashed potato is the most popular potato dish not only because it is easily prepared and cooked, but also because it is filling, satisfying and nutritious. With a potato masher, it can be made more palatable and can be garnished with a multitude of ingredients to enhance the taste.

How to buy a potato masher: two types explained. Before buying a potato masher, you need to know that there are two types: the waved type and the perforated type. Using one or the other may depend on the kind of outcome you want for your mashed potato.  Although the potato masher is so named because it is mostly used for mashing potatoes, it is also used in mashing other food or vegetables like avocado for guacamole, apple for your applesauce, or meatloaf for a recipe.

1.    Ergonomic Design

2.    Types of Masher

3.    Material

4.    Durability

5.    Versatility

6.    Ease of cleaning

Potatoes are perceived as comfort food, and rightly so.  Just imagine the different varieties of cooking and food preparation they are suitable for.  To top it all, they are nutritious and surprisingly not fattening at all. Like most vegetables, potatoes contain a considerable number of phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals, which is not surprising being a plant-based food.

Before we make any purchase, we need to know what we should look for in the product we buy. That also goes for buying a potato masher. The one we finally decide to buy should match our needs and expectation from that product. We also need to compare not only the brand but the features, durability, price and how it stacks up with your list of criteria.

The tools and gadgets that we buy for the home should make life a little easier and comfortable for us.  And that is especially true when choosing tools, devices, and appliances for your kitchen.  That is where we prepare, clean, and cook our food, which sustains us daily.

So, when choosing the ideal potato masher for you, the following criteria will help you make the right choice:

Ergonomic Design

The ergonomic design ensures that it is easy to use and the design is well thought out.  Check that criterion by handling the gadget in your hands and try to go through the motions of using it, short of actually mashing potatoes.

A rubber padded handle will provide grip and comfort, and won’t hurt or tire your hands while using it. Some texture on it, like ridges, would offer more grip, comfort, maneuverability, and safety. It should not accidentally slip off your fingers or break.

Types of Masher:

How you like your mashed potatoes to look like, specifically the texture, whether you want them smooth or grainy, will depend on the kind of potato masher that’s used. Here is a brief description of the two types:

 

  1. Perforated Potato Masher

It has small holes or perforations that can be round or circular or elongated rectangular slots. The handle can either be perpendicular, which is the typical handle orientation, or parallel to the mashing blade, which provides the ability to press much harder on the potatoes. Using this kind of potato masher results in a more delicate and finer textured mashed potato. 

 

  1. Waved Potato Masher

The waved potato masher is configured like a series of connected curlicues or compressed waveforms that run the width of the blade. Compared with the perforated type, the waved potato masher may take more time to do its job. The texture of the resulting mash potato is grainier, which is the preferred texture by some, as different people have different tastes.

 

Material

Although you might prefer a plastic and an aluminum potato masher for some reasons, make that set complete by adding a stainless steel potato masher. It will definitely outlast the two. It is sturdy and does not break like plastic. It does not get deformed like aluminum and does not rust. It is dishwasher safe, so it is easy to clean and maintain.

 

Durability

Durability is essential, especially for kitchen gadgets, as frequent and rough usage is normal and to be expected. Remember that the gadget will undergo a lot of pressing and pounding movements. It’s never pleasant to have your potato masher break down on you while using it. Not only does it speak of the low quality of the gadget, but it could also potentially hurt you or someone else in the kitchen.

Check out the handle and settle for an ergonomically designed one with non-slip material covering or properties, such as silicone or rubber. The handle length should be about four inches or longer.

 

Multi-Function or Versatility

Like most other kitchen and cooking gadgets, they are not limited exclusively to one specific use.  Most devices are named after its most popular use, and the same goes for the potato masher.  It is also designed to be used to mash other food items such as softer fruits and veggies, or cooked grains and beans. On top of that, have the ability to imagine creatively and think of other, unconventional ways a gadget can be more useful, something other than its widespread use.

 

Worry-Free Maintenance

Cleaning up and washing all the kitchen gadgets used after your cooking will sometimes make you wish you could put it off for a while. That’s an area where potato mashers will be at the top of the list of easier to clean kitchen gadgets. It has a simple and straightforward construction that cleaning and maintaining it should not be difficult to do. Pieces of potatoes that get stuck in the corners and crevices of the gadget can easily be removed under running water and some gentle rubbing with the fingers. Check that hard to reach crevices are free of leftover food and cleaned to prevent breeding places for bacteria.

 

The Handle Orientation Can Make a Difference

Hand Potato Masher with Horizontal Handle

One advantage of having a hand potato masher with a horizontal handle is that it provides a better grip and allows pressing it down much more comfortable. With even a single hand holding it down and pressing it on the potato, you can apply more pressure to it by using your body weight. And the horizontal configuration makes it more comfortable and easier because the handle is oriented horizontally. In essence, it provides you with more leverage.

With a vertical handle, your hand grip and your forearm are at an angle which restricts the pounding movement and force.

 The bottom line is that it is ideal to have one masher with a horizontal handle and another with a vertical handle. There will be more occasions when not much force is needed, and times when the horizontal handled masher would do a much better and quicker job.

Which One to Use, Potato Masher or Potato Ricer

These are two kitchen gadgets to process not only potatoes but other vegetables and fruits as well. It is time to see what the difference between the two are, and which one would deliver better mashed potatoes.

  • Potato Ricer

Potato Ricer Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The potato ricer is composed of two main parts: a round container with perforations on its base or underside, and a round flat cover that fits into the container and also serve as the plunger. Both the container and flat cover have long handles. The cover is hinged to the container opposite its handle.

The food or cooked potatoes are placed in the container, and then the plunger is pressed down into the container by bringing the cover handle down to the container handle. This action adds air into the mixture and forces the potatoes through the holes and into a separate container. The processed potatoes using the ricer are smoother and with no lumps.

However, this process can take a longer time, especially with unpeeled potatoes. When the potatoes are unpeeled, the pieces of potato skin usually get stuck on the container and the perforations.

  • Potato Masher

Photo by Robert-Owen-Wahl from Pixabay

Using a potato hand masher to process potatoes can sometimes yield lumpy consistency.  To avoid that, your mashing technique should just be fine-tuned or be more methodical. Be sure that you don’t miss any spot or corner of the container and to employ a press and twist maneuver with the masher. Adding a little liquid or water every now and then as you see fit will be helpful.

If you want your mashed potato smooth and fluffy, use a potato ricer. If your preference borders on a more textured one, use a potato masher.

As an afterthought, it all depends on our individual tastes as some like their mashed potatoes more textured while others like it fluffy and smooth, or of a finer consistency. And that means our idea of the best or better kind of mashed potatoes is a very personal and subjective one. Other people may hold different opinions and preferences.

Other Ways to Make Mashed Potatoes

Sometimes our ability to think out of the box is overtaken by the label we put on the things around us. It is even harder to break through that barrier because of the power of product advertising and promotion, especially of products that have a significant impact on the way we live. That’s not a bad thing, really.  We won’t be aware of those things unless we have advertising and other means of letting us know about these helpful products and what they can do for us.

In other words, some labels and descriptions become so stuck in our minds that we no longer recognize or dare to imagine the other potential uses of something like a product.  So, here are other items available in our kitchen that may be alternative gadgets to use to mash potatoes.  They may not come at par with your favorite gadgets as regards the desired result.  But then things need not always be perfect to be enjoyed.

 

Using an Electric Mixer

Most households have at least one handheld electric mixer in the kitchen.  It may not be the right kitchen appliance to process unpeeled potatoes, but it can do an excellent job at mashing peeled ones. It works well with mashed potato recipes that require a generous amount of liquid or fat. The mashed potatoes are much less lumpy when processed with an electric mixer and is unquestionably not as strenuous to use as with a potato masher. Make sure to choose the ‘low’ setting on the electric mixer and to avoid overbeating to make the mashed potatoes light and fluffy.

The Immersion Blender can also be used to conveniently and quickly mash potatoes as the mixer does. An immersion blender is the hand-held version of the countertop blender.

Using a Food Mill

A food mill is a kitchen utensil to make food through mashing and sieving.  It has three parts: a bowl, a bottom plate with perforations that is placed in the bowl, and a bent curvilinear paddle-shaped metal blade attached to a hand crank.  Usually, the food mill comes with interchangeable strainer plates with smaller and larger perforations or cutting holes. They are either made of stainless steel or aluminum material.

The cooked potatoes are placed in the bowl, and as the crank is turned, it crushes the potatoes and pushes them out through the holes, peeling off the skin and cutting uniformly-size potato pieces.

Aside from processing cooked potatoes, the food mill is also used for removing the seeds from cooked tomatoes, removing the larger pieces and pulps from apple and other fruits for purees. For a do-it-yourself ingredients business or passion, having a food mill will expedite the process of separating the seeds and pulps.

 

Using Just a Fork

If all you crave for at the moment is a bowl of mashed potatoes for yourself that can be done quickly, a fork can be a convenient, easy to find substitute for a potato masher.  Your mashed potatoes will turn out creamy, dense, and a bit lumpy in a positively delicious way.

With the fork in your right hand, mash the cooked potatoes through the fork’s tines, and continue doing it until the texture and consistency are just what you want. Then just add in condiments and garnish to make it extra yummy.

Some Advice

Well, there is a chance you might think that using a food processor or a countertop blender may just be fine to mash potatoes. It is not advisable to do so if you don’t want your mashed potatoes to unexpectedly turn into something unappetizing and gluey in consistency.  The reason that happens is that the warm, newly cooked potatoes’ starch cells become swollen and soft. And when they undergo processing by the processor’s or blender’s powerful blades, they turn sticky and gluey.

Lastly, you would want your mashed potatoes to turn out right, like fluffy and dry. They should be cooked until tender. If they get overcooked, they tend to retain too much water. So, make sure to steam the drained potatoes for a few minutes, allowing the water content to evaporate.  After this, you can mash them.

Persuasive Reasons to Get a Potato Masher If You Still Don’t Have One

Preparing Potatoes Doesn’t Take Much Time

Yes, potatoes need to be boiled, but it doesn’t take much time for it.  You can choose to microwave them if you want and still achieve that desired fluffy texture using a potato masher.   

It’s the Key to Think Up Other Sumptuous Recipes

Well, a potato masher is called a potato masher not because it should only be used for potatoes.  The word potato stays because the gadget has been mostly used to process potatoes. Although when it was invented, it was meant not only for potatoes, but for other fruits and vegetables, too. In fact, it is a versatile piece of kitchen gadget that is so useful, and it could get you started on experimenting with other favorite fruits and vegetables, and preparing or cooking up your own delicious recipe creations. The other two things you need perhaps are the imagination and the creativity to put it further to good use.

The Health Benefits of Potatoes in Our Diet

Potatoes are available not only worldwide but also all year long.  They are tubers that are edible for human consumption and, in fact, loaded with lots of nutrients.  Its popularity is its versatility as food.  It can be like rice and grains as a staple food or an essential ingredient in recipes. It can be enjoyed with beef, chicken, fish, and many kinds of seafood, salads, soups, fruits, nuts, and vegetables, making it such an all-around food item.

It can also be filling with just a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper, and some mayonnaise, and it can instantly satisfy you. On top of that, potatoes are a good source of not only fiber but vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that will help our body fight off diseases. In essence, it has got a lot of healthful benefits to us human beings.

Now let us shift gears and talk about the many ways that including potatoes in our diet can contribute significantly to a healthier mind and body, and to living a healthful lifestyle.

01 Healthy Bones:  Potatoes contain iron, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and zinc which help our body in building and maintaining bone strength and structure. Iron and Zinc promote the production and maturation of collagen in the body. Phosphorus and calcium are both essential to the bone structure, but have to be balanced for optimum bone mineralization. An imbalance between the two can result in bone loss, which could lead to osteoporosis.

02 Blood Pressure: Decreasing the amount of sodium or salt in our diet contributes significantly to controlling blood pressure. Getting more potassium from our food is just as important since potassium promotes the widening of the blood vessels called vasodilation. The daily requirement of our body for potassium is around 4,700 milligrams, which only a small percentage of people are able to meet.

Potatoes are a good source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which are all found to help decrease or stabilize blood pressure naturally.

03 Heart Health:  Potato contains potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6, which are good for the heart. It is a good source of fiber which aids in  lowering cholesterol in the blood, which results in a lower risk of getting heart disease. Additionally, research shows that a higher consumption of potassium-rich food combined with a lower ntake of food with high sodium content will bring down the risk of heart disease and the mortality rate.

04 Inflammation:  Potatoes contain choline which promotes learning, memory, mood, and muscle movement. Choline is also needed by the body to support the structure of the cellular membranes, to transmit nerve impulses, to absorb fat, and to the development of the brain. Adult males require a daily source of 550 mg of choline, and females 425 mg.  About 57 mg of choline can be sourced from a large potato.

05 Cancer: Consumption of foods rich in fiber brings down the risk of colorectal cancer. Antioxidants protect the cells from damage brought about by free radicals, and vitamin C and quercetin are sources of antioxidants. The potato is a good source of vitamin C, quercetin, and folate. Folate aids in the synthesis and repair of DNA, preventing several types of cancer cells from appearing brought about by the DNA’s mutation.

06 Digestion and Regularity Consumption of potatoes provides the body with enough fiber content that can help prevent constipation and aids in regularity. Plant-based diets will promote the beneficial microbiome environment in the gut that has an overall positive impact on the brain and all other systems in the human body.

07 Weight Management and Satiety:  Essential factors in effective weight management and weight loss are the inclusion of dietary fibers in the diet. They not only provide bulk in the digestive system but also increases satiety and reduces appetite. That results in the feeling of being full or satisfied, and much less likelihood to eat more and consume more calories.

 08 Metabolism:  Potatoes contain vitamin B6, which is vital for the body’s metabolism.  It breaks down carbohydrates and proteins into glucose and amino acids which are smaller compounds efficiently utilized within the body for energy.

09 Skin:  Collagen is the protein structure in the skin and other connective tissues that collectively support the skin.  Vitamin C is an antioxidant that provides protection against the damaging effects of the sun, pollution, and smoke.  It works with collagen to smooth out wrinkles and maintain overall skin texture.

10 Immunity:  Potatoes are loaded with vitamin C. And vitamin C alleviates the severity and uncomfortable symptoms of colds as well as lowering the incubation period.  Patients with colds who take an extra dosage of vitamin C recover much faster.

Here is the nutritional profile of the potato:

With roughly half of a medium-sized potato that is equivalent to about 100-gram/3.5-ounce serving, a baked potato with its skin contains the following:

94         calories

0.15      grams of fat

0           grams of cholesterol

21.08    grams of carbohydrate

2.1        grams of dietary fiber

2.10      grams of protein

10         milligrams (mg) of calcium

0.64      mg of iron

27         mg of magnesium

75         mg of phosphorus

544       mg of potassium

12.6      mg of vitamin C

0.211    mg of vitamin B6

38         micrograms (mcg) of folate

Whipped Potatoes? Smashed Potatoes?

Potatoes are rightly thought of like one of those comfort foods we just can’t do without. Why? Because it can be cooked and enjoyed in so many different ways.  They can be fried, baked, mashed, smashed, whipped, and go well with a lot of recipes. 

Smashed potatoes may look like a misspelled mashed potato, don’t you think so? But it is not. What about whipped? Here’s something to illuminate us.

  • Mashed potatoes are prepared using either a hand masher, a ricer, a food mill, or even with a fork. That depends on your preference as to the consistency, whether you prefer a bit lumpy or smooth texture.  With the fork, you need extra time and extra effort to come up with a smoother outcome. The taste still won’t be that much different.
  • Smashed potatoes are less fine in texture, and can be lumpy. Some people occasionally would like their potato done that way for variety. It can also be the right texture and consistency when combined with certain viands or garnish. Using a fork will do the job.
  • For whipped potatoes, a mixer is required to carry out the mashing process if a smoother, creamier potato dish is what you want.

 

Tips for Potato Storage

Like any food, fruits, and vegetables, potatoes also have a shelf life or a point where they can no longer be used as food. In storing them, there are a few things to do to delay the onset of deterioration.

  • The right storage temperature for potatoes is between 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit or between 7 to 10 degrees Celsius. Preferably, the storage environment should be dry and dark.  Possible storage in a typical house is the pantry room and cellar.
  • The shelf life of full-grown potatoes is about two months. There may be a few rotten ones in the batch that should be thrown away to prevent the rest from rotting.
  • You may sometimes see potatoes that turn green. That is an indication that the potatoes have been exposed to sunlight that brings about the formation of solanine. It is responsible for potatoes to turn green.
  • When potatoes are stored in the refrigerator, its starch content is converted to sugar which can result in a flavor that is not pleasant.
  • Potatoes should not be placed in a storage where there are onions.  Potatoes and onions both give off gases that may cause the decay of the other. But make sure to remove the rotten ones because they can affect the good ones around or near them. 

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