The other day I wondered about the relative merits of a potato ricer vs. a masher:
I asked Mr. Big Food which sized ricer grate he recommended and he said, “I’d mash them,” which I suppose you could. I do not know what the relative advantages of a ricer over a masher are. Perhaps someone— cough, cough, Kat!– could enlighten me.
This is what Kat replied (with minor edit to add paragraphs & emphasis):
Re: relative advantages of a ricer over a masher – There are two that I know of and they both have to do with the consistency/texture of the potatoes. First, the ricer breaks down the potatoes quickly and evenly, so you get fewer lumps with less effort. For something like gnocchi, you don’t want lumps if you can help it.
The other reason is that potatoes from a ricer should be fluffier and not sticky or gummy. Potatoes don’t have gluten, but they can still get gluey/sticky/pastey if you work them too much. Breaking them down with the ricer should minimize lumps so you don’t have to keep mashing and mashing to try to get the lumps out, and you don’t have to over cook (ie water log) the potatoes to get them to cooperate.
Some people are really good at mashing and to them I say more power to you. For me, I would rather take the tots for a spin around the ricer than chase lumps around a pot with a masher any day.
So there you have it!