Salad preparationI bought a food processor for one main reason - to help me chop up my salads.
Ideally I would like a machine which allows me to insert salad ingredients at one end, and extract a freshly-prepared salad from the other end.
Such a machine might wash, remove excess fibre and pests, slice and centrifuge the salad before ejecting it onto a plate.
However, in practice, most of this process needs to be performed by hand.
In the context of salad preparation, food processors represent an attempt to automate the chopping stage.
TimeThere are two possible advangages of automation - finer chopping - and the possibility of saving time.
The possibility of saving time was my main reason for considering automation.
Use of a machine typically results in a larger number of components that need cleaning - however, in principle it could save some time chopping - and by chopping food more finely, it could save time eating it as well.
Since the "expense" of cleaning the machine is a one-time cost, it might make the most sense to use a food processor when one is preparing large volumes of salad.
Different approachesThere seem to be several approaches to chopping salads. Blades can be attached to a rotating drum, the salad can be chopped using a device similar to a blender - or the salad can be forced down onto blades attached to a rotating disc.
My experiments using a drum-based salad chopper led me to suspect the approch was problematical.
The Magimix machine here uses either rotating discs or a blender-like attachment for chopping salads.
Magimix deviceThe Magimix machine seems to be basically a good one.
At 600W it is sufficiently well powered for the task at hand.
It uses solidly-constructed stainless steel discs - which seem to work effectively and be well engineered.
The bowl appears to be well made - from some suitably-space-age plastic material.
The device is pretty simple to use and fairly rapid to clean.
NigglesSpeed is not controllable. In practice this is probably not very important - and might help simplify operation while reducing costs. However I suspect that not everyone will like this feature.
Safety features prevent the lid from being off the machine while it is operating. Unfortunately, they also prevent the machine being attached to the base while the lid is on - and stop the machine from being removed from the base when the lid is on. This is something of an irritation - since these are potentially common and not significantly risky operations.
The lid of the bowl can sometimes get jammed on at a five degree angle. When this happens, considerable force can sometimes be needed to remove it again. The high forces required seem to present some risk to the bowl - which is not ideal, since the bowl and its lid are expensive components.
Tolerances on the machine could be improved. The distances between the bottom of the chute and the rotating blade seems unnecessarily large - and produce can often find its way through the gap - rather than being forced through the blade. Part of the problem is the design of the cutting discs. Only the blade it elevated. Elevating more of the disc might help prevent this problem.
The machine's feed chute is wide enough and short enough for me to insert my hand down it and cut off the tips of my fingers on the rotating blade.
That the possibility of doing this exists seems to me undesirable. I would have preferred a slightly taller and narrower feed chute - which would have been effective in eliminating this possibility in my case.
Note that the machine only comes with the 2mm cutting and grating disc. That probably keeps costs down (and so is good) - but it really needs supplementing to take proper advantage of the machine.
On my machine, the tower that supports the rotating discs has no protective "skirt" - so material can escape down the drive shaft making cleaning that necessary. Magimix appears to have fixed this issue in recent models.
AssessmentDid the machine actually save any time?
While I have not yet attemped accurate timings, my assessment is that any time saved on typical tasks is pretty minimal.
I find that when I'm in a hurry, my tendency is to use fewer ingredients - and to skip over the use of the food processor.
Perhaps in the future I'll succeed in finding ways to make salads in greater bulk - in which case having an automatic chopping machine might well pay off.
Though perhaps not a very effective as labour saving device in my case, eating thoroughly chopped salads is a different and interesting experience - and a well-chopped salad seems to have some advantages in terms of palatability.
GalleryI photographed the Magimix machine - and some salads before and after processing with the device. Photos of these can be found in the Magimix gallery.