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Before You Buy a Kitchen Blender

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While some would say that a kitchen blender is not an essential, others rely heavily on their blender and would be lost without one. A kitchen blender can make food preparation more efficient, thus saving time in the kitchen. And once you start using one, you'll be reaching for it more often for various uses. Buying a kitchen blender sounds like a simple task, but with different types and functions available, it takes some consideration to ensure your appliance purchase meets your needs. But, that's where I come in - to help you sort it all out, so you can make the right blender choice. Also read Blender 101 for more about buying and caring for a blender.

Types of Blenders

There's quite a variety of blenders available, some with basic functions while others can process hard foods or cook soup. Jar blenders are the most popular with features, capacity and prices that vary depending on power, function and blade design. Multifunction blenders are more versatile but costly. Hand or immersion blenders usually have basic pureeing, mixing and blending features, unless accessorized with a chopper attachment or special blade design. While most hand blenders are electric, cordless models add another level of convenience to this kitchen tool. Personal blenders have various functions.

What Blender Functions Are You Looking For?

If you want a blender mainly for making smoothies and frozen drinks, choose one with at least 500 watts of power and an ice-crushing blade. Ice-crushing blenders are available in full-size models or lower-powered personal blenders. For chopping/grinding tasks, you'll need one with a chopping blade and processing functions, otherwise a standard blender will usually be adequate for most blending, pureeing, stirring and mixing tasks, such as making baby food or creaming soups.

Blender Jug or Jar Features

Since blenders vary in capacity, choose one that best suits your needs. Jars come in glass or plastic, with higher end models usually being glass, while budget or dispensing blenders have mostly plastic jars. Personal blenders usually have plastic cups. There is a mix as to spout design. For best pouring, choose a blender with a prominent curved pouring spout. Those with a flat design make pouring difficult and messy. Some blenders have no spout and pouring must be from a corner of the jar, which is hard to do without dripping. A stainless steel blade is stronger and more durable, especially for ice-crushing.

Immersion or Hand Blenders Features

Hand blenders are different from jar blenders. Often referred to as stick blenders, they offer the convenience of blending, pureeing and mixing right in a bowl or hot pot on the stove. With a smaller blade foot, they can more easily handle smaller amounts. They're compact and easily stored in a drawer and some models have handy wall racks. Available in electric or cordless power they are ideal for pureeing cooked foods, creaming soups, blending a drink and other uses. Some hand models have extended functions such as ice crushing or include chopping accessories.

Multifunction Blenders

Certain models such as the BlendTec or Vita Mix blenders offer much more than the standard variety in terms of function. While more expensive, they're powerful units with a commercial-grade construction that can cook soup, process foods, make juice and a multitude of other functions. These units can replace several appliances in a kitchen and are a worthwhile investment. Another type of multifunction blenders are models that have accessories for chopping or processing, using the same base unit.

Cool Blender Features

A pre-set function for frozen or iced drinks is a nice feature. The reversing blade of the Oster Fusion Blender improves the flow of food drawn into the blade and adjusts the speed as needed for better blending. Hamilton Beach has a few models that use wave-action technology to move foods into contact with the blade and a model with dual-wave action to better blend contents. The popular Oster Beehive blenders come in a variety of colors/finishes to suit every taste. A dispensing feature can be very handy, but requires more cleaning and blending capacity must be greater than the level of the dispenser.

Compare Prices

Generally, the more functions rather than speeds, that a jar blender has, the higher the cost. Decide first what type of blender you want, then look for the features most important to you. Also consider the advantage of certain accessories, which may save buying another appliance later. Hand or immersion blenders are available in corded or cordless models, with or without chopping accessories. Bar blenders generally have good ice-crushing capabilities.

More Appliance Tips

What should you do if your purchase does not meet your expectations or has a defect? These tips will explain why the manufacturer needs to know there are problems with your purchase. Need to dispose of unwanted appliances? There are options to consider. And should you consider an extended service contract? In some cases, the cost can be substantial but may be worth it in the long run. Buying other appliances? This appliance buying tips index can help you find what you need. After your purchase, remember to read your product manual for care tips and instructions. They're there for a reason.

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