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What do I need to know about KitchenAide?

 
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I've just bit the bullet and laid out the money for a KitchenAide Stand mixer with a food processor attachment. Is there anything I should know about this equipment? Are there tricks to using it effectively or attachments that I should be looking into in the future. Are there attachments that I shouldn't waste my money on or that work better for unintended purposes? I think somewhere I saw someone say they made nut butter with the grain mill, for instance. Part of me is thinking it could be used (in combination with the milling attachment) to prepare olives for pressing when my trees mature.
 
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I have the pasta making attachments and they do a pretty nice job.  There's a flat roller attachment and then a series of other cutter attachments for making pastas of varying widths from the sheets that you make with the roller. (widths vary from a few millimeters width up to nearly half inch)   I used to make lots of pasta cheap and pretty quick too.  The ravioli attachment isn't really economical so I wouldn't spend that money again if it broke.  You can make 2 nice flat sheets of pasta with the roller and then fill and crimp them on a  countertop faster than you can with the attachment. If you eat a lot of pasta then it's a fun way to stock up on fresh pasta which you can then freeze and have ready to go for months.  I used to spend shitty winter days making pasta when there was nothing else to do.

As a mixer it does it's job well.  The six qt mixer will easily handle a heavy dough.  I've put up to eight cups of flour in the bowl and had no trouble mixing up a couple dozen sweet bread rolls.  I also use it for mixing five pound batches of ground pork for sausage.  Because all the attachments and the bowl are metal, they can all go directly in the freezer to help keep things cold which prevents the meat and fat from smearing together while mixing.   I would probably get the paddle mixer with the silicone bowl scraper edges if I were making more cakes because the regular metal paddle doesn't quite reach the sides or the bottom of the bowl and if you don't stop to scrape it down with a rubber spatula from time to time, you'll find bits of unmixed flour or whatever on the sides and bottom of the bowl when you dump it out.  

I use my mixer about 3 days a week and my only complaint is that it's pretty loud so having a conversation while making pizza dough is near impossible.  That being said, the machine is a powerhouse and if you treat it right it'll  treat you right.  I've read that some of the grinding attachments leave a lot to be desired.  If you are planning on grinding meat you will probably want to invest in a stainless steel grinding attachment.  The KA version has some plastic parts and so it won't stay cold while you're grinding.  Making a good quality ground meat is so much easier with cold ingredients and a cold grinder.  I'd only use a KA grinder for doing batches of meat less than 5 pounds.  The meat must be very well trimmed to avoid blockages from tendon or silver skin getting bound in the grinder.  The machine will also heat up quite a bit under heavy loads.  Basically, if you are going to grind meat in any serious way (more than 5 pounds at a time) get  a stand alone grinder.  

I wish the KA mixer had the ability to turn off the mixer head while you're using the attachments mounted on the front of the machine.  That spinning mounting pin that your dough hook or paddle goes on, just keeps whipping around while you're grinding, juicing or making pasta.  It seems like a bit of a safety hazard, though I think the mixer has a kill switch in case of jamming.  All still, roll up your sleeves and tie your hair back.    

I've had my mixer for at least 8 years now and really have no complaints.  It does what it's designed to do, which is to be a home scale mixer, stuffing, grinder, juicer, whatever.  If you have any inclination of doing more than a few pounds/gallons/pecks of anything on a reguar basis, it might be worth while to go with a single purpose machine.  for instance if you wanted to juice gallons of grapes every year, buy a juicer, not the attachment for the mixer.  

Best of luck, and congrats on your new kitchen tool.    
 
Casie Becker
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Thank you. And this is exactly the kind of feedback I need. It's mostly been purchased for my sister to use as she's continually baking for her church. I'm going to look for the special mixer/scraper combo then. If it's not available locally, I'll order it online. Thanks again.
 
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start at 11 minutes into this video
 and you can see the KA in action with a grinding attachment that is made by Chef's Choice (made of metal not plastic).  Meredith explains a little about the KA mixer regarding grinding meat.  

 
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Good job Craig.  I was going to point to that same video, for the recommendation on the steel grinder accessory.
 
Casie Becker
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More good information. Not just about that particular accessory (though I'll remember that when I look for a grinder) but also that there are accessories available that fit the mixer that aren't from the same brand. Looking now I see there are other things that KitchenAide makes in plastic that can be found in all metal. Including a beater blade with scrapers on both sides.
 
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They ARE great machines, but they shipped the manufacturing of the motor over to China in 1995.  Pre-1995 models do great with home-milled flour, post-1995 models will eventually burn out if you push your luck.  I don't own one, I just field a few calls from disappointed people wanting to upgrade to a mixer designed for home-milled flour.  

 
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I recently got one, and it has worked for grinding flour so far - though given the length if time you need to run it and the noise it makes, I am afraid of burning it out eventually. I hate to spend more money on a dedicated grain mile, but it might be worth it in the end.
If you want to make butter, I say use the whisk - I was making whipped cream, and barely caught it in time! Making whipped butter would not take long at all.
 
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Chaya Foedus wrote:They ARE great machines, but they shipped the manufacturing of the motor over to China in 1995.  Pre-1995 models do great with home-milled flour, post-1995 models will eventually burn out if you push your luck.


I have to agree with this.  I LOVE my KitchenAid mixer, but I've had mine since the mid-1980s.  My sister-in-law has one of the newer ones, and it clearly isn't as sturdy.  The other issue, as someone else mentioned, is that many of the attachments are mostly plastic now, instead of the metal that came with mine.  Some of my attachments are the newer plastic models, as well, and they are definitely showing their wear.

If anyone is in the market for one, I HIGHLY recommend you get a model that has the support arms for the bowl, instead of the bowl that screws into the base.  My mother's mixer has the screw-in bowl, and after a while it doesn't stay screwed in anymore.  Oh, and spring for an extra bowl if you do any amount of baking at all.  You will be glad you did.
 
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