Blenders have been a common household small appliance for a couple of generations. This small appliance overall design did not change much over the last 50 years. However, technological advancement in the last decade and the new trended in modern health food whether vegetarians or vegans has dramatically changed the blender's design and usage.
In this article, I will survey the vast possibilities that power blenders bring to a modern kitchen and give tips on how to choose a power blender.
What can you prepare with a power blender?
If you use your blender just only for smoothies in the morning you are missing out on the other options such as dips, sauces, spreads, soups, cocktails, ice cream, and other dishes and desserts.
Dips: Dips are a perfect option if you are having guests over and are so easy to make using a blender that you can have them prepared freshly for your family dinner. Dips are suitable for everyone, even carnivores but it opens up new options for vegetarians andor vegans. Form traditional dips like pesto (basil based Italian classical dip) to the new desirable superfood hummus (chickpea Mediterranean dip). Naturally, there are many other options for dips you can prepare using a power blender.
Sauces: You can use a power blender to easily prepare the classical sauces such as hollandaise but you can use the power blender to try out new recipes fitted for vegans that include some unusual ingredients that otherwise will be hard to incorporate into your sauces. I suggest that you try out the carrot-ginger salad dressing which has a beautiful color and amazing aroma.
Spreads: Freshly made spreads are a perfect healthy choice for your entire family. Spreads like peanut butter are a hallmark of American food but if you make it using your blender at home you can play around with the flavor by adding spices like cinnamon or cocoa powder into the mix during preparation. Although peanut butter is the most common nut butter, today other nuts have stepped on to our plate and today it is very trendy to prepare nut butter using organic almonds, hazelnuts or pecans which form delicious healthy butter.
Soups: Soups are a great option for lunch andor dinner. Since the cooked vegetable is soft before they will transform into a soup you can prepare soup using any blender. The options for vegetarian or vegan soups are endless and depend on your imagination and personal preference. I personally love Thai food and thus I love curry-based soups such as curry cauliflower and sweet potato curry soups. However, in the hot summer days, there is nothing like ice-cold gazpacho.
Ice cream and sorbet: If you are making dishes that require crushing ice you really need a power blender. Homemade fruity sorbets and ice creams are free of preservatives and other additives and thus better for you and your family. Naturally, you can use any fresh fruits or even incorporate nut butter into your ice cream to make it creamier.
There is a wide variety of other dishes that the power blender can help you prepare. Here I would like to mention two options: the hallmark breakfast, homemade pancakes and my favorite vegetarianvegan option, falafel, which is putty made out of ground chickpeas. My main advice is to use your imagination to make the most out of your power blender.
What are the most important blender features?
Currently, the market is flooded with numerous types and brands of blenders with diverse quality and price tag. So, what should you look for when considering a power blender?
Horsepower and wattage
Intuitively, you may think that with more wattage the greater the blender power. This is theoretically true but you may notice that the top brands sell power blender with a wattage of 1000-1500W, while occasionally you may encounter a low-end blender boasting a high wattage over 2000W with a lower price tag. So, is it more powerful than the top brands' high-end power blender? The answer is the power is not the only parameter controlling performance and other parameters like motor quality and control system should be taken into account. From an engineering viewpoint, electrical efficiency which translates the wattage into real power is a key factor usually neglected. Thus, blenders with high-efficiency motors and low rated power (W) may be superior to blenders with high wattage coupled to a low-efficiency motor. Yet, it is sometimes hard to find the electrical efficiency on the blender specifications. So if you are having a hard time choosing between two power blenders with a similar wattage, just compare their other parameters.
Blades rotation speed
Many manufacturers will boast a high rotation speed (measured in Rounds Per Minute, RPM) for their blenders (>25,000). However, this figure is skewed as it is measured using an empty jar. Since in the empty jar there is no friction, these numbers are usually biased and will not reflect the loaded work speed. Good high-end power blenders provide motors that can perform well with a loaded jar and reach speeds of up to 15,000 RPM. So, similarly to wattage when you make your purchasing decision considering that the labeled speed might be different once you actually load your blender.
The motor drive connects the motor base to the blade shaft driving the blades once the jar in lock into place on the motor base. Since the spinning blades cause friction with the inner surface of the motor drive and the blade shaft this part should be highly durable and thus is usually made out of stainless steel. Lower end with a motor shaft made from other materials will tend to quickly degrade followed by shaking and abnormal noise and eventually lead to safety issues and complete breakdown.
Naturally, since the blades suffer the blunt force of crushing the ingredients in the jar, they should be made out of high-end stainless steel. Moreover, the shape, size, and number of blades in a blender will affect its performance. However, there are no rules for highly efficient blades and you should view the blender as one unit function together. Thus, the blades should fit the jar design and well couple to the motor drive and even the rotation speed of a specific blender. One test you can perform would give a good indication for the quality of the blender blades ins to insert a whole apple into the jar without water. Good blades will easily crush the apple into a smooth mash.
Blender noise is a straightforward and reliable parameter that is easy to compare. Since noise level is an important parameter for most consumers it is highly important for the manufacturers during product development. Naturally, high power blender tends to by noisier at a range of 90 DB at top speed but you can find high-end blender that a quitter. The best thing you can do is to test the blender out and see if constant use is too noisy for you.
The jar container is a key part of the blender and is completely visible to the naked eye. The most important feature of the jar is the material it is made out of. The material and design of the jar should meet the following restrictions: as the jar come in direct contact with our food it should be safe for humans (non toxic materials), as the ingredients in the jar are constantly pounding it walls it must be impact resistance, since we want to be able to judge the progress of crushing/blending the ingredients the jar must be transparent, the jar material should be heat resistance for soups and hot drinks. The structure of the jar and the location of the blades within is critical to the ability of a blender to completely crush all ingredients in the jar achieving full consistency. Thus, the reason you may find so many blenders with a rectangular jar with perturbations. This design enables the creation of a vortex within the jar which facilitates vertical blending.
Safety comes first! Blenders are high power and high-speed electrical appliances thus; they require effective protection for the end-user. For most blenders you will find basic protection in the form of overload current protection and overheating motor protection. A more advanced blender will also feature other safety measures such as child protection in the form of the control panel (touch panel) lock, disengagement mechanism detecting when the jar is not exactly on its designated slot on the blender base or when it falls off the base during work. In an effort to save on manufacturing cost, many blenders are lacking these important safety issues and you should pay close attention to these features.
Functionality and ease of control
There are several modes of control for power blender available in the market today.
- Paddleknob is and old and classical mode of control which provides mechanical control the many people are accustomed too. The obvious drawback of this control mode is precision and it is very common to find it on low-end blenders. However, you can find blenders presenting a combination of a touch panel with a speed knob designed for better functionality and speed control.
- Button control is highly popular these days as it is more accurate for setting specific functions. One drawback of the control system is those buttons tend to collect debris and dust and are harder to clean at the end of use.
- The most up to date control is a touch screen. These are further divided into categories: a resistive touch that will respond to tap with some force and capacitive touch which only require slight contact with it. The latter panel has no moving parts and thus more durable. All types of panels are required to be waterproof.
- The new generation of power blenders incorporates programmable control panel that came with or enables you to store specific blending programs for juice, smoothies, ice crushing, soups, etc. which makes their running operation straightforward for everyone.
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