In a basic food processor, the attachments fit over the shaft inside the bowl. Standard attachments for a food processor are an S-shaped blade -- also known as a sabatier blade -- and shredding and slicing discs.
The sabatier blade sits at the bottom of the bowl. It consists of two small, curved blades arranged on opposite sides of a central plastic pillar that fits onto the shaft inside the bowl. The blades of the sabatier are usually made of metal, but are sometimes made of hard plastic. You may find that metal blades are preferable because they retain their sharpness longer.
The shredding and slicing discs are made of metal and sit at the top of the bowl, over the shaft. You push food down the feed tube and it contacts the disc, at which point it is grated or sliced into the bowl. The holes on the shredding and slicing discs may yield fine, medium, or coarse bits of food. You can purchase these different versions of the discs separately if they are not included with your food processor.
In addition to the standard attachments that came with your food processor, you can supplement your equipment and make your appliance more versatile by buying additional attachments.
Other common attachments include:
- A dough blade - This blade is made of plastic or metal and has straighter (less curved) paddles than the sabatier blade. You use this to make dough for bread and pizza.
- An egg whip - This attachment has two straight arms with large open paddles at the ends. You use this to beat egg whites and whipping cream, incorporating sufficient air to ensure a fluffy end product.
- A julienne disc - This piece has a row of protruding, short, sharp teeth. You use this to cut food into long, thin matchsticks.
- A French fry disc - This is similar to the julienne disc but yields larger, fatter pieces.
- A citrus juicer - This is a dome-shaped attachment that fits on top of the shaft and turns to squeeze the juice from oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, etc.
- A non-citrus juicer - This purees fruits and vegetables introduced into the feed tube, collecting the pulp in the middle and straining the juice into the bottom of the bowl.
You can also find a special container to hold all of the attachments in one place, and extra work bowls, which can be handy if you are making several things in the food processor and don't want to wash out the bowl between tasks.
Also, as mentioned, some models have different-sized feed tubes and bowls that can be used with the same base. These can help you perform a range of tasks without having to buy two different appliances.