A food mill will serve you well through all of your holiday cooking and beyond.
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Raw turkey on platter

As the countdown to the holidays begins, it's time to take a look around your kitchen and make sure that you're prepared for the inevitable hurricane of cooking that you will be doing in the next couple of months. Do you have some backup kosher salt in the pantry? Is the oven clean and ready to go? Are you fully stocked with foil and parchment paper? Do you have a good selection of sheet pans and pots to get you through some long bouts of cooking?

Once you've gone through your checklist of basic pantry items and made sure that all of your appliances are working and ready to go, there's one tool that can often be overlooked or forgotten when it comes to making sure you have everything that you need. That tool, of course, is a food mill. It may not be the first kitchen toy that comes to mind when you're racking your brain for all of the necessary appliances and gadgets, but boy is it essential, especially come holiday time.

The last thing you want to happen is to be cooking on the big day and realize that your kitchen isn't equipped with a food mill. Whether it's Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Year's, there's a very good chance you'll need a food mill to help you whip up your holiday meal. The purpose of a food mill is to mash and sieve soft (usually cooked, but not always) foods. It works by using a hand crank to push foods (skin-on product is no problem) through a perforated plate, processing everything from apples to tomatoes to potatoes.

Credit: amazon.com

This tool is most notably important for the quintessential holiday side dish, mashed potatoes. While you *can* mash your potatoes with a masher or even a ricer, I am absolutely telling you right now that your best option is a food mill. Not only will it process the cooked potatoes into a silky smooth, creamy mash that's perfect for any holiday table, but it's way more versatile than a basic masher or ricer, so you'll get a ton more use out of it. Sure, it might take up a bit more space in your kitchen than a masher or ricer, but its wide range of uses and efficiency in milling foods make it a much better option.

Mashed potatoes aside, you might be wondering what else you can use this clunky kitchen tool for. Another classic use for a food mill is making the most divine homemade applesauce. Sending your cooked apples through this gadget will turn them super fine and luscious, making them the ideal texture for applesauce. Are your guests going to be impressed when they're dipping their latkes in homemade, smooth-as-ever applesauce? Why yes, yes they are.

If creamy mashed potatoes or homemade applesauce aren't enough of an incentive to take the leap of faith and buy a food mill, then homemade tomato sauce better do the trick. If you're planning to make some pasta sauces or marinara sauces for your holiday cooking needs, then your food mill is about to make your life way better. If you've never had a food mill before, start with this Oxo Good Grips Food Mill. It's budget friendly, easy to assemble and clean, processes foods quickly and easily, and super stable on your counter.

A food mill definitely shines during holiday cooking, but quite frankly, you'll find yourself reaching for this humble gadget year-round. If you're a person that finds themself with an overwhelming amount of produce, a food mill is a great way to process said produce into luscious sauces, soups, and mashes. If you're cooking for a newborn, this is another great tool to whip up baby-friendly dishes. So please, run down your holiday cooking checklist and make sure you have what you need, and if you don't have a food mill, there's no time like the present to invest. Your future holiday self will thank you.