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No kitchen complete without food processor

Whether whipping up hummus for a lavish dinner party or shredding cabbage for a Southern-style cookout, food processors ease the tedious task of slicing and dicing.

On the market for more than 30 years, this convenient appliance has been revamped time and again to make it faster, sleeker, bigger, smaller or more durable. No matter what changes are made, though, one thing remains constant: These handy gadgets are an essential piece of a functional kitchen.

When food processors first hit stores in 1973, it was under the Cuisinart brand. Now offering everything from a mini processor to a limited-edition metal model, the company is still a mainstay in kitchen accessories.

One of the best-selling Cuisinart models is the user-friendly but basic Pro Classic. Holding up to seven cups of food, the processor includes a steel blade, dough blade, slicing disc and shredding disc for various types of cutting. The Pro Classic features one speed plus a pulse option and an extra large tube for bigger pieces of food. Made of plastic and dishwasher safe, the model retails for $99.95.

Going beyond the basic, Cuisinart offers the ultra-powerful metal food processor. Designed more for heavy-duty meals and hard-core chefs, the limited-edition model holds 14 cups of food and a 3/4-horsepower power motor. The metal processor features stainless steel slicing, shredding and mixing/chopping blades, as well as a metal dough blade, beaters and detachable disc stem. Retailing for $349, the metal processor comes with a how-to book and DVD, and a recipe booklet. Both Cuisinart models are available at retail stores.

Dressed in a pretty pink, the KitchenAid Chef's Chopper Series three-cup food processor does more than dice food. It is aiming to help cure breast cancer, too, as $7 from every sale goes directly to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation for cancer research.

The colorful, lightweight chopper features a reversible spin, stainless steel blade and pulse function to make for precise cutting, plus a domed lid that can handle both solids and liquids. All bowls, blades, discs and accessories are dishwasher safe. Sold at retail stores, the food processor retails for $39.99.

The point of a food processor is to eliminate pre-slicing. Some models require larger items to be cut up before they can be processed, but not Hamilton Beach's Big Mouth food processor. Its wide mouth with a self-adjustable chute opening allows for larger foods, such as potatoes, tomatoes and cheese chunks, to be shredded with ease.

The Big Mouth features four speeds, a locking bowl and a ready-glow light to ensure safety. The 14-cup bowl is made to handle the demands of ambitious chefs, while the dishwasher-safe blades and bowl make cleanup simple for everyday use. The Big Mouth food processor retails for $69.99 and $79.99, depending on specific model type, and is available at retail stores.

Staff writer Anna Ferguson is trying to outfit her new but bare kitchen. She can be reached at 770-963-9205,

ext. 1308, or at anna.ferguson@gwinnettdailypost.com.