One of the most common small kitchen appliances, a blender is a flexible device that has many uses across a wide array of applications. Whether it’s being used for blending, chopping, making soup, beverages, or smoothies, a blender can be used for prepping and cooking many recipes. Many world-class chefs swear by their blender and say that they don’t know how they could possibly complete their daily recipes without one. A modern kitchen isn’t considered fully equipped until it has some form of blender, because so many recipes call for ingredients to be pureed and blended.
The Different Models of Blender
There are several different options when purchasing a blender, but the majority of them have similar designs and blade styles. If counter space isn’t an issue, a traditional countertop blender is a great option.
The device has a fan and motor housed in the bottom of the appliance, which connects directly to the internal blade. Some blender designs offer a separate mixing compartment for ingredients, so you can easily prepare and add parts of the recipe.
A blender’s encasement where the user adds and blends ingredients is usually made of glass or plastic, but some models have and encasement made from stainless steel or porcelain. There’s usually a rubber washer placed between the container and the unit’s base to prevent leakage and ensure that there’s a tight seal when the blade is running. If there isn’t some form of seal between the encasement and the base, then there’s the chance the contents of the blender will leak out into the motor and damage the device. The container is usually marked out with several forms of measurement, so the user can easily add the correct amount of ingredients or measure out servings. Across all types of blenders, the device usually features a lid that fits directly onto the body and keeps the ingredients from spraying out when the blades are activated.
A modern blender has a variety of speed options, but the majority of users will only have use for the basic settings. Chefs and other culinary experts will appreciate the added options, but many people might be better off buying simpler designs. A top-of-the-line blender can have up to sixteen speed settings, along with a host of other design options and new features. While some users might not have a use for all sixteen settings it’s important to make sure that the blender at least has setting for slow, medium, fast, and puree.
On the other side of the spectrum is the immersion blender, which differs in design from the classic, counter-top blender. An immersion blender is handheld and is usually used for small recipes that need to be mixed quickly. An immersion blender has a similar design to its countertop counterpart, with a few design changed. An immersion blender has a long body that can easily be held, a spinning blade on the end of a drive shaft, and the design can be used to blend ingredients in a bowl. Many people like to use the device for making soups, or for pureeing vegetables. Immersion blenders are capable of chopping, dicing, and mixing the same way a countertop model can, but the device is usually preferred for smaller recipes.
When shopping for a blender, it’s important to consider every aspect of the device, along with what you’ll be cooking with a blender. For instance, if you plan on using the blender to chop vegetables you’ll want a blender with a sharp blade and lots of chopping options. One of the main uses for a blender is making fruit and vegetable smoothies, and sauces, so a blender that has a liquefy setting is preferred. High-speed settings like liquefy are very powerful and have a tendency to shake the blender around, so a device with a large base is preferred.
Users who plan on making smoothies and purees prefer a blender with an opening in the lid, so liquids and other ingredients can be added as the blender processes the other foods. Even though a hole in the top may seem counterintuitive, many designs will keep the contents from spraying out even with a hole in the top.
One of the main selling points of a blender is whether its container is made from plastic or glass. While plastic is lighter and less expensive, it is likely to scratch with extended use. Glass containers will suffer less damage over time, but they are breakable if dropped. Many people prefer glass to plastic because they feel it’s a much more heavy-duty material, and blenders with a glass enclosure are usually much more powerful and elegantly designed.
One of the first things to consider when purchasing a blender is the size. Modern blenders come with an optimally sized container, but some people prefer larger aftermarket containers. The only issue with purchasing a larger container is that the blender’s motor might not be able to handle the added ingredients. It’s better to purchase a powerful blender with a large container instead of fitting a small blender with an aftermarket container. While smaller devices are less expensive, they might not accommodate every type of meal, which force the user to do a lot of prep work by hand and cook in multiple batches.
Cooking in multiple batches can be time consuming and difficult. In some scenarios, an improperly sized blender will make your job harder and leave you with more work instead of freeing up time for you to work on other parts of the recipe. A large capacity blender is preferred because it won’t overflow when pureeing soups and liquids and you will only need to make one batch. The ideal size for a mid-rage blender is about four to seven cups. If you plan on cooking for large groups of people on a regular basis a larger blender might be preferred, but four to seven cups is the average.
Blenders usually come with a removable blade base, which allows for easy cleaning and sharpening. In some models, the user can completely remove the blades in order to clean the bottom section of the blender. The most popular types of blades are made from stainless steel and are very durable. The stainless steel prevents the blades from rusting and helps to increase the life of the blades.
Power and Wattage
It’s easy to assume that all blenders are made them same and can chop, liquefy, and puree all ingredients without any trouble, but the device’s ability to perform well is based heavily on its power usage.
- 300-Watt Blender – With 300 watts of power, the blender can blend and chop most ingredients thoroughly, but will have trouble liquefying or turning ingredients into a puree
- 500 to 600-Watt Blender – About average power for a blender, the 500 to 600 watt range can make smoothies and purees with ease
- 700-Watt Blender – When the user needs to chop items into small granules or liquefy ingredients, 700 watts of power is recommended. A 700-watt blender is capable of blending almost any ingredient, including coffee beans and bones
Blender Settings and Controls
One of the most important aspects of purchasing a blender is deciding what type of control panel and settings you will need. In modern blenders, the control panel is usually a touch pad, which is reliable and easy to clean, but many people prefer a classic design with buttons or knobs. Touch pads offer a streamlined look along while a push-button design offers the user more control over the ingredients. A push-button design usually incorporates some form of toggled start switch, which allows the user to stop the blender at any time.
After you’ve familiarized yourself with the controls it’s important to be on the lookout for several key settings that should be available in every blender:
Stir – When making milkshakes or other blended drinks, a stir setting is typically used to mix the ingredients thoroughly, but leave the mixture with a thick texture
- Puree – A puree setting is typically used when making soups and sauces because it mixes and chops the ingredients until the contents are smooth
- Chop – When making a chunky soup or casserole, a chop setting is used to break down fruits and vegetable. The chop setting is a step above puree because it partially breaks apart and liquefies the ingredients, but leaves most of the contents in chunks
- Mix – This setting combines multiple ingredients without cutting or chopping the ingredients. A mix setting is typically used for making a tuna or chicken salad
- Liquefy – When making a smoothie or light soup, the user will use the liquefy setting to make the mixture easily drinkable
Extra Parts and Accessories
Modern blenders usually come with a host of extra parts and options, but many accessories can only be purchased as aftermarket additions. Nearly anything, ranging from the blender’s container, blades, and seals can easily be replaced if the part breaks. Even if the parts haven’t broken it’s still a good idea to replace your blades if they become dull and the seals if they begin to leak.
Larger capacity containers and specially designed blades can be purchased as accessories and will save you the trouble of buying a different appliance to make specialty meals. For instance, you can buy specially modified blades for blending milkshakes and smoothies. Blenders are very customizable and offer a host of options to help every user with their culinary pursuits.
How to use a blender
Watch this youtube movie to get more tips and advice about the Kitchen Aid blender.