A potato masher isn’t necessary to achieve perfectly mashed potatoes; a plethora of utensils, ranging from a fork to a food mill to an electric mixer, can be used to get the results you crave. While a fork makes the same dense and creamy, although slightly lumpy, mashed potatoes as a potato masher, gadgets like a food mill or an electric mixer creates a smooth and fluffy mash. Just be careful not to over-process your potatoes, or you’ll end up with gluey, unappetizing results.
Handy Hand Tools
A fork makes a substitute for a potato masher, especially if your goal is mashed potatoes that are hearty, with a creamy, yet slightly lumpy, texture. With the fork, press down on the cooked potatoes so that they mash through the tines. While effective, using a fork to mash potatoes is labor-intensive and not an ideal method if you're feeding a crowd. You can also use a pastry cutter by rocking it back and forth across the cooked potatoes. If you don’t mind lumps, use the back of a spoon to smash the potatoes.
Rice, Rice Baby
For the lightest, fluffiest mashed potatoes, a potato ricer is the way to go. Potatoes go into the hopper of a ricer, and a plunger forces them through small holes as it is pressed, resulting in an irresistibly smooth, fluffy mash. A food mill produces similar results. Add cooked potatoes to the food mill and turn a crank that causes a bent metal blade to crush and force potatoes through small holes. However, using a ricer or food mill is time-consuming and is not ideal for larger servings, especially for skin-on potatoes. Skin should be removed before ricing or crushing in a food mill as it will clog the holes.
If you want light, fluffy mashed potatoes, use an electric gadget such as an electric mixer or immersion blender. Transfer cooked potatoes to a bowl and whip them until just whipped. When using these gadgets, you run the risk of over-processing your potatoes, which can result in a sticky, gluey mess. Mix conservatively, stopping frequently to check the consistency of the potatoes.
Potato Masher Substitute Don’ts
While you may be tempted to use it for speed and convenience, a food processor or countertop blender should not be used to mash potatoes. These kitchen appliances turn mashed potatoes into an unappetizing glue in seconds. Their powerful blades pulverize boiled potatoes' swollen starch cells, and too many ruptured starch cells equals gummy potatoes.
- Fine Cooking: Potato Ricer vs. Masher
- TheKitchn: Can I Make Mashed Potatoes With My Immersion Blender?
- Cooking Light: The Most Common Cooking Mistakes
- Seattle Times: Three Ways to Prepare Perfect Mashed Potatoes
- The Science of Good Cooking; America’s Test Kitchen
- Photo Credit Shane Cummins/Hemera/Getty Images
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