A potato masher, bean masher, pea masher or crusher is a food preparation utensil used to crush soft food for such dishes as mashed potatoes, apple sauce, or refried beans. Potatoes mashed using a potato masher tend to be fluffier and lighter in texture compared to other methods of mashing, because use of the device reduces cell damage to the potato, releasing less starch.
The potato masher consists of an upright or sideways handle connected to a mashing head. The head is most often a large-gauge wire in a rounded zig-zag shape, or a plate with holes or slits. Basic designs made from a single piece of wood were used in Victorian times, before the more complex modern designs which are now used. This type of wooden masher is still used in Scotland and is known as a 'Potato-Beetle' or just a 'Beetle'.
The modern design was patented by Lee Copeman in 1847. The idea resulted from his love of smooth, lump-free mashed potatoes. The potato masher was purveyed in the 1908 edition of the Sears mail order catalog for 4 cents.
Although potato mashers are most commonly used to mash potatoes, they are also used for mashing a variety of foods. They are most used in home kitchens, but may also be used in commercial kitchens. Commercial mashers are often of larger design (up to 32 inches in base width). Other common uses include mashing pumpkins and rutabagas for soup, making hummus, guacamole, chili, baking mix, egg salad, or even purées (depending on the fineness of the ridges).
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- Media related to Potato mashers at Wikimedia Commons