A food mill is a classic piece of kitchen equipment that works well for tomato sauce, mashed potatoes and other purées. Whatever you process through it has a smooth, even consistency, without skins or large seeds. Food mills can be bulky and you may not have room for one, and the good ones tend to be expensive. Luckily, there are other types of equipment you can use to strain and purée foods.
Food Processor and Sieve
The food mill is sometimes touted as an alternative to using the combination of a food processor and a sieve. If you don't have a food mill, use those fundamental kitchen tools instead. Process the soft foods until mostly smooth, and then strain the food through a fine-mesh strainer or sieve. The result will be the same as what you'd get with food mill.
For smaller jobs, a potato ricer can do the job of a food mill. Ricers work by the principle of extrusion: food is pressed through one end and forced through small holes the size of a grain of rice. The process removes any skin and seeds from fruits or vegetables and makes a smooth purée. As its name suggests, it works particularly well for making mashed potatoes.
Cheese Grater and Hand Mixer
A cheese grater can sometimes take the place of a ricer or food mill, particularly for preparing potatoes. To make perfect mashed potatoes without a ricer or food mill, grate cooked potatoes with a box grater, and purée them using an electric hand mixer or a hand whisk. This method can also be used to easily remove the skins from cooked tomatoes.
Daisy Buchanan has worked as a staff writer for "The Umbrella," an arts newspaper in Portland, Ore., and as editor-in-chief for "Living Mosaic," an academic journal. Buchanan holds a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies from Lewis and Clark College.