Tonight I had a chance to test out my new Back To Basics Food Strainer and Sauce Maker. I’ll be canning some spaghetti sauce tomorrow, so I thought I’d get a head start on the process and get my tomatoes done tonight.
I’ve read good reviews about this product, so I expected a quick and easy job done.
Let’s just say, I’m a little disappointed. If I had paid for the thing, I would have promptly requested a refund. I’m really surprised too! Everybody had tons of good stuff to say about this strainer. I’m hoping maybe it’s just not so good with tomatoes. I’ll hang onto it though, and try it out on a few other things.
All went well for the first few minutes, the puree came out of the screen and the skins and seeds were discarded out another chute. But it wasn’t long before the screen became clogged with tomato skins. I had to take the entire contraption apart to clean it out.
Actually, I had to take it apart several times as it continued getting clogged as I went. If I had peeled the skins off of the tomatoes before running them through the strainer, I really believe it would have been much better. But you are supposed to be able to leave the skins on, so that would kind of defeat the purpose, huh?!
It also began leaking from two different places where it was not supposed to leak. Watery black stuff was dripping from where the handle screwed in and splattering on the floor as I cranked. By the time I was all finished, my clothes, the floor, the walls, the counter top, and two bath towels were wet with tomato juice.
In the end, it got the job done. But it was not quick, easy, tidy, nor convenient. I’m really hoping that it does a better job with other foods. Next time, I’m going to peel the tomatoes before processing them in this strainer.
I’m wondering if any of you have a Back To Basics Food Strainer, and what you think about it! Was this just user error?
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.
21 thoughts on “Back To Basics Food Strainer Review”
I have a victorio and it makes a big mess as well. The screen also pops off constantly. I stopped using it because it was so annoying.
I don’t have one of these mills but I have 2 Foley mills – the type you put over a pot or bowl (I have a newer Chinese one by “Mirro” who seems to be the only company that copied the exact Foley design and an older, authentic Foley made in the USA). Both do the same thing – they both leak black juice out of the hole/joint where the crank screws into. But it’s worse in the Foley type mills since it leaks into your milled/pureed food! I cannot for the life of me figure out why these leak this black juice. It has nothing to do with grease because neither of the mills are greased at the joint or anywhere else. So I have deduced that the acid from my tomatoes (I have only ever used it to mill tomatoes for sauce) eventually reacts with the stainless steel and turns the juice that gets into the joint black (but I have no idea if it is toxic or not – I am not dead yet!). So consider yourself lucky that your mill leaks outside of the unit rather than into the food. I am sick and tired of it and therefore looking for a better mill. I guess I will settle for the type you have, even if it is messy and has black ooze. At lest that ooze isn’t getting into the food (I assume so anyhow).
We have a regular problem with the leaking around the handle, as well. We process both cooked and uncooked tomatoes. I just bought a new screen since the original one seemed like it was getting dull. I bought a replacement seal, as well (1/4-inch or so in diameter) it it was a lot better. We tie a rolled up paper towel around the handle where the red nut fastens it to the shaft and generally don’t have any problems. I don’t have experience with other food mill to compare it to but, in general, we love this device, and it gets a LOT of use around harvest time for tomato sauce, tomato juice, and Sriracha.
As above, it is much easier, less messy to cook the tomatoes down a bit BEFORE you strain them. Much less resistance.
I have used yellow pear, cherry, roma, beefsteak, early girl, celebrity and brandywine tomatoes with this unit. They all work fine but it is just a HUGE mess! It doesn’t matter if it’s tomato juice, salsa or applesauce. ALL of them leak in 2 place: 1) out the screw that holds the handle on and 2)where the screen screws into the base. I have purchased 2 of them (thinking the first was defective). Nope. Same thing. Back to Basics suggested I change the gasket. That made no difference either. Yes, it gets the job done but I have to use it outside in “work clothes” or my kitchen becomes a sticky mess.
I’ve had the same problems with this food mill and I’m fairly disappointed with it. Little tip for the watery black stuff: whenever we use the food mill, I take a dish rag and tightly tie it around the red nut that holds the handle on. It won’t win any beauty contests but prevents that oil/grease from getting all over our clothes, the floor, etc.
As for the clogging, sometimes it really needs to just be forced. I found that when it seems clogged, if you really throw your weight into the handle it’ll free itself. I never tried cherry tomatoes so that may be a part of the issue. I found that the bigger Celebrity tomatoes worked better than the smaller Romas. Could be that your tomatoes were too small? I’m still new to using a food mill so I may be off base on that one.
I have this food mill and I’ve never had any problems except some splatters. I quarter my tomatoes and heat them gently in a pot to soften them. It only takes about an hour. Then I run it through the food mill. The puree goes straight into the crock pot to cook it down. I then add the seasonings to the crockpot and let it cook to the consistency I want and then I can it straight from the crock pot. I can’t imagine having to skin as many tomatoes as I can in a season without it.
I guess if you never used a food mill before this would be and interesting option, but I have an “old fashioned” food mill and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I make applesauce, tomato sauce etc with it. It may take a bit more time, but less waste… yes and no fuss… yes! I don’t think I could tolerate taking it apart, cleaning it out, putting back together, getting back on track.
I have an “apple peeler”… the same it true with that. I know they can make these that don’t waste so much fruit because when I was a child we used this, but the one I have now will be in the next garage sale I have… actually I have two of them and both do the same thing… they take great chunks of fruit along with the peel. I have decided it is much easier just to peel with my very sharp paring knife… even though it takes longer… less waste.
Perhaps you have already, but I’d really like a review of a grain mill. We are trying to decide which one to buy. I think it may be the same there… the old hand crank metal one. It would be nice to know before investing any money on one 😉
I love your blog and read it all the time. Don’t change too much.
I have written a review of the hand mill (wheat grinder) that I purchased a while back. I didn’t call it a review… maybe I should change the title so that others can find it more easily. Anyways, here’s the link:
I have one just like yours. And yes, it splatters and makes a mess too. I just put a towel on the floor below the handle and that really helps there. I have never used mine with raw tomatoes before. I have always cook them before I run them through the stainer. But this week or next, I am trying something new. I read on a blog, how she cuts up her tomatoes and freezes them. Then lets them thaw overnight. In the morning pour off the water and then the skins are softer and you can run through the strainer much easier. It also makes it a thicker sauce for making ketchup or whatever else you want to do.
I love mine and use it every year. My mom used one when I was growing up, and yes, it made messes then too. And we only ever use the one spiral and screen-the sauce one.
Hope this helps you. Don’t give up, keep trying. Canning is a messy thing, but SOOOOO worth it!!!
Actually, the tomatoes I used were processed just like that. I’d frozen them ripe, then let them thaw for several hours before running them through the mill.
I have always used a “Foley Food Mill”. It’s been around for eons, but you don’t have to peel or core and it works on everything. You can find them at garage sakes.
I have one of these for several years and absolutely love it! My family doesn’t care for chunks or seeds. Just this summer I have processed the tomatoes from 32 vines with it. I did have some minor problems at the end of our season this year, but the tomatoes were small and tougher due to drought conditions or had been picked green and small and allowed to ripen on the counter.
I have also used this for applesauce and blackberry jelly with absolutely no complaints. It saves a massive amount of time and work, even if it gets a little messy.
I have this and was pretty disappointed. It does an alright job but boy is it sure messy. I found it was easier to use a blender for my spagetti sauce (you can leave the skins on when you use a blender!). We’re going to be making applesauce here in a week so I’ll use it again but definately outside.
I’m saving my money for a KitchenAide and those fancy attachments!
We have one of these. I process between 2-4 bushels of tomatoes with it per year. I adore it over my old hand mill. It is a huge time saver. Cleanup can be a bit rough but being able to process 100 lbs of tomatoes per hour is well worth it.
I have noticed that the riper the tomatoes are the better they feed and smoother they go through the auger. I also always cut them into quarters or at least halves. If you feed them in soft side down it works much better as well. It is a finicky little mill sometimes but if you feed the tomatoes slow enough and in small enough pieces it works well and leaks very little.
For the price it is a pretty decent mill allowing us to put up lots of sauce every year.
It’s encouraging to know that others have had a lot of luck with it. I’ll keep trying 🙂 My tomatoes were mostly cherry tomatoes, so I know they weren’t too big! Maybe the skins were just too thick.
I have been wanting to purchase one of these for a couple of years…never bit the bullet to do it though…I have borrowed a neighbors last year and I remember it being messy too..so we did it all outside…great post!!!
I just have an old-school Squeezo.
Part of the smushed-up-nothing-coming-out thing is if you were really smashing down things into the hopper with the plunger. You have to be slightly gentler with highly seeded things. *cough, raspberries* Not like I have any experience with that. 😉 Also depends on what screen you used. I have three different screens and have used both smaller ones (not the pumpkin/squash puree one though).
Splatters. I have cloth napkins made from single layers of beaten up prefold diapers. I tie one on to the handle there where it meets the crank dealie, if that makes sense. Catches most of the splatter before you even know it. Dark colored ones don’t show the food/oil stains as badly.
Overflow. You *have* to regularly scrape down/out the downspout thingie. Otherwise yes, you’ll get buildup of pulp on it that’ll jump overboard onto your counter. It is what it is, and an orange/red flexible scraper/spatula will make your day (why that color? fewer stains!).
Aprons. Use ’em. Unless you want to go way old school like my grandmothers and wear housecoats. Heehee.
I have this one. The strainer that comes with it is for applesauce. You need to purchase one of the other 3 or 4 strainers to do tomato.
Each task needs a different strainer to do the job.
You are going to love this one for apples. I made 16 quarts of applesauce in 20 minutes.
The screen says on it: tomato/apple. I’m pretty sure it’s the right one??
Haven’t used this contraption, but I would probably trust a regular ol’ food mill. Actually, my favorite method to do something like pop a bunch of tomatoes onto a parchment or foil lined sheetpan and roast them under the broiler, turning a few times for even cooking. Skins slide right off. Freeze them.