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Food processors are one of the most helpful of kitchen appliances. Whether you need to slice, dice, chop, shred or purée a host of ingredients for a meal, large or small, the handy machine can get the job done quickly with the press of a button. Depending on which model you have, a food processor also typically takes up little space on your kitchen counter or in your cabinets.

To help you get the most out of your food processor, Consumer Reports offers these seven tips for using the kitchen appliance:

Always insert the blade before adding food. Set the blade in the work bowl, and make sure the bowl is fitted on the motor base before putting in ingredients. If the blade isn’t sitting correctly, the appliance could break.

Use the pulse button. This function gets you an even chop without the risk of overprocessing. Otherwise, onions and other foods with a high water content can quickly turn into a purée. Use this for chopping nuts or making salsas.

Let hot liquids cool down. For your safety, bring hot ingredients to room temperature before processing.

Purée soup ingredients without stock. Strain out the cooked vegetables from the stock pot, and purée them in the food processor. They’ll blend smoother without liquid. Then whisk the purée back into the strained liquid.

Partially freeze meats and cheeses. Before processing, get the ingredients really cold, but not frozen solid, for the best ground meat and shredded cheese.

Be patient when making nut butters. The longer you process, the softer and silkier the butter will be.

Avoid “mashed” potatoes. Here’s an instance where the food processor won’t come in handy. Cooked potatoes develop a gluey texture when processed with the metal blade. You’d be better off using a stand mixer to make this dish.

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