Ask any cook or baker what their most versatile kitchen appliance is, and most will say it’s their kitchen blender. Lots of people get a blender for a gift, it’s a staple of wedding gift lists. The problem comes later, when the blender ends up in a closet or cupboard and isn’t used when it could be. When you ask your self what you need in your kitchen, blenders should be near the top of the list.
Standard Countertop Blenders
Most of use are familiar with the standard countertop kitchen blender. These blenders are compact, have a mixer jar (usually made of glass) and a base with the controls on the front. They are quite easy to use, most are designed to have you put the ingredients into the jar, cover and blend.
Blenders come with a variety of options. Some of the more sophisticated models have programmable functions. This allows you to do a variety of blending with your appliance. While most blenders are very good for crushing ice, you don’t always need that level of mixing. A few of the programming options that you may find will be pulsing (quick on and off bursts), low speeds for sauces, high speeds for smoothies and timed speeds. A basic countertop blender may have only two speeds, but many will have up to 12 different speeds to allow you to mix almost any set of ingredients.
Countertop blenders will have different sizes of mixing jars. Some are tall and will hold quite a bit of liquids. Others are shorter and squatter. They obviously hold less, but they are great for single batches of a drink or a sauce.
The description says it all. An immersion blender is used by immersing the rotating blades into the liquid or other ingredients that you want blended. Using hand held blenders requires a bit more skill than a fill-it-and-leave-it countertop model. However, immersion blenders are wonderful kitchen tools for whipping cream, blending drinks or making sauces. Many models will come with a whisk attachment or a frothing attachment. Espresso coffee drinkers will love the frothing piece, it works well when creating delicious espresso drinks.
Immersion blenders are almost always made of stainless steel. They will have multiple speeds but they usually can’t be programmed. Their function is to mix, you want to be able to grab it and blend. Most will be battery operated, having a power cord on an immersion blender can be a bother.
What To Look For When Buying Blenders
Blenders are priced from $25 to $200 and the price will determine the options that you will get. Space might be an issue in your kitchen, but most countertop blenders are compact and take up only a little space. A typical blender is light weight and will be easy to move around. Watch for these features when buying a blender:
1. Mixing Jar Size
If you are only blending or mixing recipes for one person, you can get by with a blender that has a small bowl. If, on the other hand, you are planning on making big batches of smoothie, you will want a unit with a larger mixing jar.
2. Glass Mixing Jars Are Best
Plastic will make your mixing jar lighter but there are pitfalls to a plastic jar. Unless you always wash it jar by hand, your dishwasher may discolor the plastic. You may also find that the measurement guide on the side will wear away faster than it would on glass.
3. Motor Size
Yes, size does matter in this case. Too small a motor can lead to catastrophe, especially if you are trying to blend dense fruits or vegetables. Smoothies can have chunks of both in the recipe and you will want a strong motor to blend and chop those ingredients.
There is a huge assortment of home kitchen blenders available and it can be confusing when you want to buy a new unit. Remember to keep in mind what you will be using the blender for. If you only plan on the occasional smoothie, a small unit might be best for you. An immersion blender is best if you want to use it for sauces or whipped cream. Buy the unit that best fits your cooking requirements.