Handheld blenders buying guide
- — 24 August, 2010 10:44
Image credit: Flickr.com/photos/75001512@N00/ (Creative Commons)
FAQs: Handheld blenders
Q: What is the most important thing to look for when purchasing a handheld blender?
A: Comfort is the most important factor to look for when considering a handheld blender. Check the design of the grip and the position of the controls; make sure you feel comfortable holding and operating it. The weight of the handheld blender should also be a big consideration, as heavy models can weigh down and tire your hand and arm.
Q: Am I better off with a cordless or corded handheld blender?
A: The answer depends on what you will be using the handheld blender for, how big your kitchen is, and whether you will use it often or just for last-minute tasks. Cordless handheld blenders are usually powered by a rechargeable battery; they provide more flexibility than a corded unit (one that plugs into a standard power point), but they need to be charged frequently and are often heavier due to the rechargeable battery. A cordless handheld blender may be able to be put in a dishwasher for cleaning, but be sure to check this by thoroughly reading the user manual. If you opt for a corded handheld blender, be sure to check the length of the cord and its positioning.
Q: Is it worth paying extra money for a stainless steel or metal handheld blender?
A: Entry-level handheld blenders are often made of plastic, while more expensive ones may be stainless steel, metal or a combination of these along with plastic. Handheld blenders with metal shafts are obviously more durable than plastic ones, but plastic ones may be easier to clean. Plastic can also discolour and absorb colour — especially after prolonged use in hot foods, or foods with high colour pigmentation — as well as fade over time, although this depends on the quality of the plastic used. It is also good idea to check how easy the unit is to disassemble for cleaning if applicable. Most handheld blenders can be cleaned by rinsing the blades in warm, soapy water and then drying thoroughly.
Q: Do I need multiple speed options on a handheld blender?
A: Again, this depends on what types of food you will be blending. A good idea would be to make a list of all the foods you blend often, which will give you a rough idea of what to look for. Most handheld blenders simply have high and low speed settings, but some may have a pulse option, and others may include more than two speeds.
Q: Is the wattage of a handheld blender important?
A: The wattage of the handheld blender is important, but not critical. The wattage of a handheld blender will give you a good indication of the power of the motor. A more powerful motor can process a larger amount of food in a faster time and will more than likely produce better blending as the motor is more resilient. Wattage can range from 140 to 600 Watts.
Q: Can a handheld blender crush ice?
A: Some handheld blenders are capable of crushing and blending ice, but you'll need to check this feature is available on your blender. An ice crushing feature is usually a key selling point, so it shouldn't be too difficult to spot. If you specifically require this feature, make sure it is one of your first questions to a sales assistant; attempting to crush ice with a handheld blender that isn’t capable of this function could be dangerous and will more than likely damage the blades as well as the motor.
Q: Are the blades on handheld blenders dangerous?
A: Any blade is dangerous if not handled correctly. A handheld blender contains sharp blades at the end of its shaft, so safety is a concern. Generally, most handheld blenders have a plastic or metal guard that partially covers the blades but some provide better protection than others. Check this before you purchase. Keep in mind that the blades of all handheld blenders will be exposed at the bottom of the shaft, so finding a safe and secure place to store the appliance is important.
Q: What accessories are included with handheld blenders?
A: Some handheld blenders may be sold on their own — and these are designed to process soft foods only — but many offer a range of accessories, making them suitable for blending hard and soft foods. These add-ons can include interchangeable attachments for different types of food processing, mixing containers, or beakers and often a combination of all three. Attachments vary but will often include a basic chopper accessory, a whisk attachment or an aerating blades accessory. Ensure you know exactly what accessories are included with a handheld blender before you make your purchase.
Q: How do I clean the handheld blender? Is it as fiddly as a food processor?
A: The good thing about handheld blenders is that they are relatively easy to clean. Whereas a standard food processor has lots of blades and parts that need special cleaning and brushes, a handheld blender just needs a quick rinse under the tap, or a wash in soapy water and they are clean. Many models now have removable parts that are dishwasher safe too. Check that all the blender surfaces are easy to wipe clean. Some rubberized grips, small crevices and attachments may trap food and water over time, so make sure the whole device is easy to clean and store.
Q: I've heard handheld blenders referred to as Bermixers — why is this?
Bermixer refers to the brand name of professional handheld blender appliances manufactured by German company Electrolux. A sub-brand of this company called Dito-Electrolux markets a range of professional handheld blenders that are called Bermixers. Another common name is Bamix; this is a Swiss appliance company that manufactured the world's first handheld blender in 1954 and still produces these appliances today.