ALL ABOUT BLENDERS
Blender Styles and Features
There are two basic styles of blenders: The traditional or carafe style, which you probably grew up with, and the immersion style. The traditional style has seen little change over the years in its appearance. It still sits on a base which houses the motor and controls; atop the base sits your blender container. The immersion style is a hand-held model with the blade attached to the power base, which is a long, slender cylinder. The blade is inserted into the liquid you wish to blend. Immersion blenders are light-weight and good for mixing drinks or smoothies only--not built to crush ice or anything similar. Their advantage is that you can blend right in a bowl, pot, glass, etc. The traditional carafe blender comes with variable speeds to chop, grind, puree, liquefy, etc. Both styles have their place in your kitchen.
Traditional blenders have anywhere from one to twenty-four speeds which do everything from crushing ice, grinding and chopping foods, and liquefying smoothies, milk shakes and other juices and drinks. You can spend as little as $20 for a pretty simple model, all the way up to $500 for a deluxe, extremely powerful model. The base of traditional styles come in plastic or stainless steel, with plastic being the least expensive. The carafe will be made of glass, plastic, stainless steel, or double-walled plastic or thermal carafes. There are advantages and disadvantages to each style. Plastic is lightweight and costs less, but over time can discolor and take on the odor of the food you process. Glass is durable, won't discolor or take on food odors, but it tends to be heavy and can chip or break if you're not careful. Stainless steel carafes are very durable, and will keep shakes and smoothies cold, but you can't see your food as it is being processed so you will need to stop the processing and lift the lid to check. The advantage of the thermal carafe is if you make cold drinks like smoothies or milk shakes, the thermal feature will keep your drink cold longer.
Before You Shop
Evaluate what you will be want your blender to do. Mostly smoothies, shakes and other drinks, or will you be chopping foods, crushing ice, etc.? Do you have a small family or a large one? Ask yourself these and other questions to help determine what size and style is best for you. Presented below are top picks in brands and models, including price ranges. The concluding paragraph will include some places for recipes that use your blender.
Blender Brands, Models, Prices, Features
Following are the most popular blenders available, including their features and price ranges.
- Braun makes several hand-held or immersion blenders which have received top ratings. The Braun MR 400 HC Multiquick 1-speed immersible blender ranges in price from $15 to $25. As the name implies, there is only one speed. This blender comes with a chopping attachment. Great for blending drinks and soups. Don't try to crush ice with this one. The next model up is Braun's MR430 HC Multiquick 1 speed, which is a little more powerful than the 400. This one sells for $30-$35. The Braun MR5550 CA Multiquick 5 speed sells for about $70, and is capable of crushing ice as well as mixing drinks, blending, pureeing, and chopping. A very beefy 400 watt motor, capable of almost anything the traditional model can do.
- Hamilton Beach's Ensemble 12 Speed blender runs about $35, and features their patented Wave-Action system which continuously pulls the blender contents towards the blades, for more efficient blending. Has ice breaker and pulse settings, as well as hi, low, and 5 speed settings. Has a 48 ounce capacity carafe. This model gets excellent ratings from several online sources, including Howstuffworks.com
- Braun's MX2050 Power Max features 5 speeds, a sturdy 64 ounce glass carafe, and 500 watts of power. Selling price ranges from $40-50.
- Cuisinart's SPB-7 Smart Power 7-speed blender features a 64 ounce carafe, will crush ice instantly, as well as chop, blend, puree and liquefy. Prices range form $40-65.
Need a Recipe? How About Some Tips?
Blenders are mostly used to chop or puree ingredients for other dishes, or to chop ice. But blenders are also used to make drinks such as smoothies and milkshakes. And some people prefer to make their own baby food. Here are some places to go for recipes and tips for your blender:
Cooks.com features recipes for smoothies, protein drinks, soups, breads, sauces and more. Sign up to be on their email list and you can receive their newsletter chock full of recipes in all categories.
Blendtec.com is another site which is chock-full of blender recipes for all kinds of dishes, from drinks and smoothies to sauces, sherbets and other desserts and more.
Amazon.com is home to many books on blender recipes.
Tips: You can make your own baby food with your blender. There are many sources for recipes to make healthy baby food at a fraction of the cost. And if you are blending a small amount of ingredients (such as for baby food), a regular-mouth small Mason jar like you would use for canning should fit the blade and base attachment. Put your food to be blended into the jar, screw on the bottom with the blade, put in the housing and turn it on. You'll have your food blended, chopped or whatever you wish is, in a smaller container. And finally, to easily clean your blender and blades, put a drop or two of dishwashing liquid in the blender, put the cap on, and blend for a short time. Unless your food is really stuck on, you 'll have a clean blender carafe in moments.
As always, we can't tell you everything there is to know about blenders, but use this as your basic information.