Invented in 1922 by Stephen Poplawski, the blender is one of the most popular and most versatile kitchen tools. Poplawski designed the blender to make milkshakes and malted drinks at soda fountains. By the time he patented the device in 1932, blenders were also used for liquefying vegetables and fruit.
There are two types of blender. A jar blender has a base that contains the motor and a removable container with rotating blades in the bottom. An immersion blender consists of a handle with rotating blades on the end. Immersion blenders are suitable for larger amounts of food and hot foods.
Both kinds of blenders come in stainless steel or plastic. A jar blender’s container can be stainless steel, plastic, or glass. Stainless steel is the most rugged, but most prefer a glass vessel to be able to see the food or drink being blended.
What Can You Make With A Blender
Blenders have come a long way since the 1920s, and many have powerful motors and even heating elements. This has broadened their use from soda fountain drinks to everything from pancake batter to homemade pizza sauce. Recipes abound for smoothies, nut butters, pesto, and even flours.
No matter the recipe, follow a few basic rules to get the most out of your blender. Add liquids first and cut vegetables or fruits into small pieces before blending. Only fill the blender jar halfway if you are using hot liquid. Keep a hand on the top of the jar when the machine is running.
A blender is not the right kitchen tool for kneading dough, grinding meat, mashing potatoes or whipping egg whites. Do not try to crush ice in a blender unless the manual specifically states that the motor is strong enough for crushing ice.
Blenders vs. Food Processors
Blenders and food processors have much in common and are both generally used to chop, mix or emulsify foods. However, there are differences in the appliances such as blade sharpness and size of container that make them better suited for different tasks.
A blender is best for mixing or making liquids. The blades are usually at the bottom of the cylinder, which makes it difficult to chop vegetables uniformly. These blades will create a smooth puree. Often the container of a blender is a pitcher or even a drinking vessel, perfect for dispensing liquids.
The food processor has very sharp blades and usually a wider bowl. It is the perfect tool for uniformly chopping vegetables and almost always has attachments for slicing and shredding. Many bakers use a food processor for making dough. Even the best food processor will not make a good smoothie.
Most Popular Blenders
There are many blenders available, ranging in price from less than a hundred to around $500. Blenders with more powerful motors and longer warranties cost more. To pick the best blender for your needs, consider ease of cleaning, noise, pulse options, and appropriate jar. Some of the best benders include:
- The Vitamix 5200 is probably the most well-known blender and also one of the most expensive at nearly $450. It has variable speed control, a 64-ounce container and its blades move fast enough to heat a liquid. The appliance is self-cleaning and comes with a 7-year warranty.
- For less than half the money, the Oster Versa Performance is an excellent option. While not as powerful or durable as the Vitamix, this Oster blender operates quietly and also comes with a 7-year warranty. The appliance has three programmed settings and a pulse button.
- The KitchenAid Speed Classic Blender is a popular bargain choice at less than $100. It has five speeds and a pulse mode and comes with a 56-ounce BPA free plastic pitcher.