To work or strain foods until they are
completely smooth. Purees may be served on their own like mashed potatoes
and applesauce which are probably the most familiar purees in the American
kitchen. It can also be used as the base for more elaborate dishes such as
mousses, quenelles and mousseline mixtures, flans, soups and pasta
stuffing. There are a variety of techniques and gadgets available for
pureeing. Choose the one best suited to the food you are pureeing.
Blender : Blenders are best for pureeing
thin mixtures and liquids such as soups. Don't try to puree stiff mixtures
in a blender as they won't move around the blade.
Drum sieve : A drum sieve, which does look
in fact a little like a drum, consists of a screen held in place by a
sturdy outer ring, usually wood or metal. Drum sieves, which are available
with both coarse and fine mesh screens, make the absolutely finest purees.
For some difficult to puree mixtures such as raw seafood, it is best to
puree the mixture in a food processor before working it through the drum
sieve. Work mixtures through a drum sieve with the back of a spoon, a
plastic pastry scraper, or the bottom of a small metal bowl. Scrape off
any mixture clinging to the underside of the sieve. Wooden drum sieves do
not usually have interchangeable screens. When the screen wears out, you
will have to buy a new sieve. Metal drum sieves, while more expensive,
allow you to use different screens and to replace the screens when they
Food mill : A food mill is a strainer with a
hand crank and a series of propeller-like blades that work mixtures
through a perforated metal plate. Some food mills have several
interchangeable plates so they can puree mixtures to different degrees of
fineness. Food mills are wonderful for semi-liquid mixtures with peel,
seeds or fibers because they strain at the same time they puree. A food
mill is the best possible gadget for straining cooked tomatoes.