Have you ever perused the offerings on an Italian restaurant’s menu, puzzled as to how gnocchi came to be?
How do they turn regular dense potatoes into pillowy little dumplings?
If you’ve ever been mystified by the tenderness of a gnocchi, you might be interested in learning that it was made with the help of a potato ricer.
Potato ricers help crush potatoes into a superfine potato mash that’s perfect for using as the main ingredient to make gnocchi.
What does a potato ricer do?
If you have any intentions of making your own gnocchi at home, having a potato ricer is absolutely crucial. Processing potatoes with a hand masher or even an electric mixer will not get the potatoes mashed enough to make a proper gnocchi.
Using a ricer on your cooked potatoes turns them into a usable ingredient to create gnocchi. A ricer doesn’t just mash the potatoes to the perfect texture, it also allows the potatoes to release steam after they’ve been cooked.
It is important that water, in the form of steam, escapes the potato. The less water there is in a potato, the less flour you will have to use to dry out the gnocchi mixture. Using less flour gives gnocchi a soft and tender texture.
Why do I need a potato ricer?
Although some may argue that you can do this job with a food mill, a potato ricer offers several benefits that just aren’t there when you choose to use a mill. Potato ricers are essential for the home cook that wants to dabble in gnocchi making.
Potato ricers are hand-held, portable, and easy to clean. They are also simple to use since the features are straightforward.
Most importantly, this appliance makes your life easier by cutting out the most troublesome part of dealing with potatoes—the peeling. By cooking your potatoes without peeling them, and then sending them through the potato ricer, you are able to retain the skin and harvest the potato flesh needed for making gnocchi.
What features should the best potato ricer have?
Potato ricers come in many different shapes and sizes. You will undoubtedly get more comprehensive features when you spring for a higher-priced model. However, any good potato ricer should be sturdy and capable of handling a fair amount of potatoes.
To get superbly soft and succulent gnocchi, you’re going to need an extremely fine potato mash to work into the dough. To achieve this consistency, your potato ricer should be equipped with a few essential features. At a minimum, you should consider the durability and the construction of the critical components, such as the size of the hopper.
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A good potato ricer should be of sturdy construction. Although a plastic model may seem cheaper at first, you’ll likely end up having to replace multiple inexpensive potato ricers over time. This is more expensive than investing in a high end model that won’t need to be replaced time and time again.
Many popular models are made of stainless steel, which is an excellent choice for a long-lasting kitchen tool. Stainless steel is less prone to rust than other types of metals, and it is known for being particularly durable when put through a lot of use.
One feature you should always consider before buying a potato ricer is the mill component, which is also known as the hopper. This is where the potato is placed before it is pressed through the grates that give you that light and airy potato mash. This part should be large enough to accommodate a potato, either whole or cut into smaller pieces.
The next feature under consideration should be the amount of holes that the potato ricer has. The size of the holes isn’t too important, but the number of holes correlates directly to how quickly you can have your potatoes riced. For a stress-free and efficient gnocchi making session, choosing a potato ricer that has more holes is bound to make your job much easier.
Ensuring the press apparatus is sturdy and functional should also be on the list of parts to inspect as you’re looking for the perfect potato ricer. You’ll be smashing a fair amount of potatoes, and this component needs to be in tiptop shape.
Last but not least, the handles should be easy to grip, and might even have a different rubberized coating on them for a non-slip surface. This comes in handy while you’re dealing with hot and steamy potatoes.
If your hands aren’t as strong as you’d like them to be, or if you have slightly arthritic hands, you shouldn’t have to give up your gnocchi making dreams. Choosing a model with ergonomic handles will make your potato ricing efforts a breeze.
Don’t just be a spec-TATER!
Making gnocchi should be a cinch once you have the proper tools to do the job. Start off your gnocchi right by investing in a reliable potato ricer, so you too can join the homemade gnocchi club!
Do you love Italian? See a great pesto recipe for your gnocchi here! Also, check out this post on the best rolling pin for pasta, the best pot for boiling pasta, and this article on how to cook calzones in a cast iron skillet!