Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Perserverance Pays Off - The Tale of a Food Mill


Last fall my Mother In Law taught me how to make jam and can it. One of my favorite parts of the whole experience was the feeling on connection and tradition that it carried. She taught me like her grandmother had taught her. We used a food mill that her grandmother had given her and had been in turn given by her mother. I loved it.

When I left that day, she gave me the food mill she'd bought before she inherited the family food mill. Unfortunately, it was cracked. She hadn't used it in so many years it had been shoved aside in storage and somehow gotten cracked. We tried to fix it but the first time I tried to use it the crack got bigger and the bowl broke. :( Poor little food mill. I salvaged the bottom pieces with the various sized holes and the metal crank part that pushes the fruit through the holes and put it into storage with my canning supplies for next summer. Throughout the winter, as I slowly gathered my collection of jars for next years canning season from the thrift stores I kept my eyes out for a new (used) food mill.

A couple months ago I found a metal food mill bowl and crank with no bottoms for a couple dollars. I was so excited and brought it home in the hopes I could use the bottoms from my MIL's food mill and make it work. They didn't fit. Now I had two incomplete food mills :( This Monday I found a food mill bowl at the thrift store without any of the other pieces ($0.99). Why not give it one more try? I brought it home. The bottom pieces from the first food mill fit but the crank is too wide for the bowl. The crank from the second mill fits the bowl but the bottom is a little too big for the opening in the bottom pieces of the first food mill. Enter handy-dandy honey (he is going to hate me calling him that) who was able to take a metal punch and make the holes just a little bit bigger so all the parts fit together. Now I have a food mill made from the parts of three food mills :) Am I weird that this situation just tickles me pink? Plus my "new" food mill is still using an element of the food mill my MIL gave me so I get to keep the family connection going. Eventually I might find the parts to fix my other incomplete food mill and pass it on to someone else and keep the chain going.


  1. Food mills are the best. I find they cream items so much nicer then a food processer. They make the smoothest pumpkin ever for a pie. I see by your photo that you are weaver. Such a lovely pastime, the movement of fiber between ones fingers, the minitua of moving back and forth and all produce such a pretty fabric. Thanks for swimming by my blog today. Sea Witch

  2. i think this is a wonderful story. i just bought a food mill at a thrift store today and am going to give it to my daughter. i am going to tell her that though she will think it is stupid, the first time she uses it she will be very happy she has one!

  3. That is so awesome that you get to keep using a piece of your mother in law's food mill. My mother in law is the one who taught me how to sew, and her mil taught her :). Passing things on like that is just wonderful, I think. Especially the warm fuzzy feelings of belonging that follow :)

  4. Jaz,
    I think sometimes we have to get a little older and mature a bit before we can appreciate the magic that happens in the kitchen. My mother still laughs that the only girl in shop class (to avoid Home Ec) now makes homemade jam and pasta noodles.

    Sea Witch
    I do weave and love it. Talk about a moving meditation. I usually weave narrow wares. Inkle weaving is the best stress reliver ever. Card weaving isn't quite as good for stress relief but it makes such beautiful pretties :)

    Did you luck out too? I count myself lucky that I get along really well with my MIL. It helps that she only had boys and I get to be the first daughter.

  5. My grandmothers both made and canned jelly and it was my favorite thing ever! The kids still get all excited when I come home with a jar of one of the mamaw's jellies.

  6. I used to use a food mill for making mashed potatoes. It made them so creamy! But, mine broke. And I still have not found a new one 2 years later. sigh.... Great job fixing and mixing parts!

  7. That is so neat! I love that you have different size plates for the bottom. Mine doesn't have that, but I make good use of it just the same. Your perseverance really did pay off! A good example for us all.