When I go to visit my parents with Harry, I like to help my mum out in the kitchen as much as I can as its a lot of work having to cook for 5 when you're used to just 3 adults lol. I was preparing food for a spaghetti bolognese and went to chop the onion with a knife (as you do) but my mum told me to go and get the chopper out of the cupboard. I hadn't got a clue what she meant and she bought out this blender looking thing and proceeded to quickly chop all the onions and without the crying eyes I usually have. My mind was made up that I needed one of those so I looked for a fairly cheap version to see if I'd like it.
I finally picked this Argos Mini Chopper from their value range. It had very good reviews on the Argos website and for the £9.99 I paid (it was a few pounds off usual selling price), I thought it was worth a try. I ordered it, took it home and went to use it that evening. It comes in a blue and white cardboard box, nothing too fancy but I'm not too fussed about packaging. Each of the bits were safely packed up and wrapped in cellophane, with the sharp blades inside a cardboard box which was good and safe. I had a quick read of the instructions, and put it together quite easily, it is fairly simple.
All you have to do is put the bowl onto the base of the chopper, ensuring the little black arrow at the bottom lines up with the one of the base, then pop the shaft with the blades onto the pipe in the middle of the bowl, add your ingredient then put the lid on. You have to make sure this is the right way around, you'll feel a definite click when it locks into place. The device won't actually work until the lid is on properly so there's no fear of cut fingers or any little accidents which is a great safety feature. So, I was all set up and raring to go, so I pressed the big white button on the machine at the top, and off it went.
Or not, as the case may be. It made a quite sickening plastic-crunching sound and the middle bit stopped going around. I took the lid off and had a look, and basically the bit that turns the blades around had grinded up the base of the pipe, rendering it useless. I returned it to Argos who exchanged it for a new one, no problems. I once again set it up to go, and this time, it was fine. I had put in a medium onion which I had cut into 4 pieces and it whizzed that up no problem, chopping it finely as I like it chopped rather small so Harry won't pick out the pieces from his dinner.
To take your food out of it, simply untwist the lid, twist the bowl from the base of the machine and tip out your food, taking care of the blades of course because they need to come out too. I find putting in a spoon is the best way to take everything out, and the design means most of it comes out easily, there aren't any bits for the food to get stuck in which makes it easy to use. To wash it, I just soak for a few minutes with soapy water and leave to dry, I clean the blades separately and the lid too, but all of them look almost as good as new. It is plastic so has tarnished slightly but hasn't been stained by tomatoes or anything else I've used in the chopper.
I have chopped up onion, garlic, tomatoes, herbs and things among others in the chopper, and its all been very successful, there's nothing I haven't been happy with so far. You can use this chopper for up to 15 minutes in bursts, but I haven't had to use it anywhere near this amount, around 30 seconds suffices for everything I have chopped. I've actually chopped up minced beef in here for making burgers and even that was fine, it was a little sticky but chopped perfectly, so I'm even more chuffed with this bargain machine now. It's not too noisy either, of course there is a noise because it's a machine at the end of the day but it's not overpowering, and the unit is steady when its working too and doesn't move around or anything, aided by the rubber feet on the bottom I think.
If you haven't yet got a mini chopper in your kitchen, then I would highly recommend investing in one of these Argos Value ones, sometimes you do get more than what you pay for. It usually sells for around the £12.99 mark but is often on sale at £9.99 and I'd certainly buy one for this price. It chops pretty much anything to a very fine slice, it washes up easily, and still looks in great condition considering I've had it around 6 months now. The all-white plastic look isn't that great and does look cheap, but it's stored in the cupboard so I don't mind too much. The one in Dooyoo's picure looks nicer but certainly isn't the one you get unfortunately! Highly recommended.
Item number: 422/8060
Thank you for reading.
When I moved into my rented flat in August it didn't strike me as unusual that for all the implements that came with the flat, there were very few cutting and slicing knives. This is down to the simple fact that I have a strange and narrow kitchen with severely limiting workspace available. Underneath, the worktops aren't any better; no space for a dishwasher, no freezer and no chance for a small tumble dryer either.
Recently with winter now in full throw, I've been thinking about purchasing the new Cuisinart SSB1U Soup Maker as I'm a soup hog and try and make soup whenever I can with my compact ASDA slow cooker. For a teacher on the go a slow cooker is a must! I had seen the Cuisinart Soup Maker on shopping TV and was generally impressed with its design. For the fact that the Cuisinart Soup Maker can fry up vegetables before stock is added, stirs the soup you're making automatically, blends it down into a thick soup very much like a normal blender and after all that seems easy enough to wash out, it was the answer to a much needed storage solution. The trouble is that from workspace kitchen tops to the fitted cupboards above, I have a space restriction of around 28cm and the Cuisinart Soup Maker has a height of 47cm making it totally unobtainable. Onto the next possibility then; a food chopper to accompany my budget slow cooker.
On the basis that Kenwood have cornered the market with Delia Smith's "cheat gadget," chopper processor at a £22-95, Argos' own version looked like a veritable bargain priced at £12-61. Compared to the Kenwood though (which has now been reduced in price to £12-49 for Christmas) the Argos Mini Chopper has a 300ml capacity compared to Kenwood's 350ml capacity and there are two speeds offered on the Kenwood as opposed to just one on the Argos Value Mini Chopper. Still I remain undeterred. I got to try my friend's Kenwood mini chopper before I visited Argos and found it to be noisy as well as having a difficult to assemble top lid. I hoped that the Argos Value Mini Chopper would be easier to dismantle or put together and it seems someone out there has been listening!
In terms of usage the Argos Mini chopper is quite a little powerhouse for all that it only has a total power range of 60 watts compared to Kenwood's 300 watts. I had to check the base of this titchy machine just to make sure Argos hasn't got it wrong! Therefore I'm delighted and surprised with the speed of this machine and the supreme quietness of the motor on board. I've lived with Kenwood machines mostly all my life so it is with good experience here to say I can't stand the screaming high whining motors. With a dishwasher safe bowl, safety lock assisted lid and a stainless steel non-serrated chopping blade that you simply just drop in once the bowl has been locked, all you need to do is fit the lid on, align up the arrows and away you go. There is also another arrow on the base of the mini chopper if you set the controls to the right hand side with the bowl looking to the left. No stiff controls, no tightness around the lid and no fuss trying to lock everything in - and that's a big welcome if you're the type of cook who cooks to a time limit or need food prep down quickly and efficiently.
Anyone that tells you a mini food chopper can grate cheese is talking nonsense - unless it comes with an actual grater disc. Food choppers don't grate, they don't slice, they don't knead dough and they don't crush ice. They are designed to chop in the same way that serrated knives dice or chop food. So when the potatoes for my soup were being chopped the button on the Mini Chopper has to be held down manually and like Kenwood's food chopper the power function can only be used in quick blasts. It does have a rather small two winged blade and what it won't do is whisk liquids terribly well - bear in mind it isn't a food processor here. The Argos Mini Chopper has a maximum run time of around 15 minutes in one session, a fact that is mentioned in their rather basic paper user manual that shows the basics. I'm pleased to say that with such ferociousness of the blade's actual design, my chopper has only been used for a maximum of 10 to 40 seconds because it only takes seconds for hard vegetables such as raw potatoes and carrots to be diced to perfection and in the following quantities;
In terms of actual quantities where each food product is used to chop once before moving onto the next type, I find the Mini chopper will handle around 5 to 6 small sliced new RAW potatoes once they have been peeled. For carrots, two medium to thick sliced sized RAW carrots can be easily accommodated in the small clear acrylic bowl. A medium sized onion, once peeled and cut into two can also be accommodated and of course depending on how you prepare your raw onions, I cut mine first then peel quickly to avoid crying. It is a pity however that the bowl has no measurement gradients marked on it as this chopper/blender could be ideal for making sauces and such like. I was initially skeptical as to how much food product the chopper can hold in let alone manage with such destructibility/strain on the motor in one task but I've been pleasantly surprised.
Some vegetables can be more difficult to chop successfully in any food processor and this chopper isn't any different such as using tomatoes. Spend too much time whizzing and you could end up with a seeded juice! However a couple of seconds with red, yellow and green peppers added, some cheese, drained seeded olives and tomatoes brings out a rather colourful and wholesome chunky home made salsa dip. I love having that as a side garnish with an omelette for example.
When all is finished, the bowl simply twists off and the whole bowl, blade and lid can be transferred off the unit. Once the blade is removed (which has a handy small pick out section on the top) the bowl is easily accommodating to standard dessert spoons or spatulas if you need to scoop out the finished food prep. I use my hands when dealing with raw vegetables and the whole process and concept of this food chopper has meant dicing, cutting and chopping has never been this much fun or as fast!
What is more impressive is that the Mini Chopper just sits planted on a level surface thanks to four squat rubber feet and with 110cm of cord on offer the little machine can be placed virtually anywhere from a far placed power socket. Here is where Kenwood have one up from Argos though; there is no cord storage facility on this model unlike Kenwood's wrap at the back. The white plastic body is quite easy to clean though thanks to its soft and organic accents whilst the base has a natural grid on it where it has to be cleaned and can be easily washed down with a hot damp detergent free cloth. For hand washing the tiny little bowl is easy to wash down as is the lid. My blade has already discoloured with chopping carotts and whilst the bowl was similarly tainted in light orange, a quick rinse under hot water and washing up liquid soon restored the natural clear acrylic. On Dooyoo and Argos photos the power switch shown is decked out in blue but my model is all in white including the power button.
Yet in terms of quality I'm actually surprised with the bottom bowl and lid. Both have arrows (one is white and clear framed so its easy to see where they need to be lined up) and made of what feels like durable plastic. Often when I've used Argos Value products in the past, the bowls or jugs with blenders etc tend to have thin plastic - but not here which is a nice welcome. On the top lid, finger concaves have been built in where logically your fingers would fit to loosen off the top lid. Nothing could be simpler with this Mini Chopper from Argos and once again it has surpassed my expectations, as I find most AV products can be touch and go.
So if you can forgive the product name, look past the label and grab yourself something that won't give you a headache to use. Certainly if you live on your own or with someone else and need something to prepare salad vegetables, bite size fruit and vegetables and loathe chopping, the Argos Value Mini Chopper won't let you down. Just remember it's not a food processor and it can only handle little amounts of food at one time. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2009
Product Code: 422/8060