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- Buying Guide: The Best Hand Blenders For You
Buying Guide: The Best Hand Blenders For YouBuying Guide: The Best Hand Blenders For You
Why Buy Hand Blenders?
We love creamy soups, rich gravies and smooth puddings. That's why we're big fans of hand blenders. Also known as stick or immersion blenders, these handy gadgets let you puree foods right in the pot without having to pour hot foods into your standard stationary blender. Modern hand blenders are also convenient multi-tasking appliances with a variety of functions and options to choose from. We've done a number of hand blender comparisons to help you determine which hand blender to buy.
Hand Blender Basics
Hand blender uses are almost endless, but the ultimate test of an immersion blender is how well it purees, as this is the function you'll probably use the most. When making a creamy curried pumpkin soup or a rich, tangy tomato paste, you want a smooth consistency. To achieve a silky puree, look for a hand blender that has good torque. It should have a strong motor that's between 200 and 250 watts to create a deep vortex, or whirlpool, to pull food into the blades and circulate it. If you like to make batches of pesto, chunky tomato sauce or an artichoke dip, you'll want a stick blender that allows you to control the consistency and not end up with a puree every time. Check the blender's cage--the part which contains the blades. It should have gaps in it that are large enough to let the food pass through easily. Solid cages can trap food and grind it too fine to allow for varied textures.
Even high-end immersion blenders are fairly inexpensive, and it's a good idea to invest in one that will stand up to years of use. When you're deciding which hand blender to buy, look for one with stainless steel blades and a stainless steel cage. Plastic models can occasionally warp and melt in hot liquids, and they simply don't last as long. If you primarily cook in nonstick pots, look for one made of durable heat-rated plastic or stainless steel that's capped with silicone to avoid scratching your cookware.
You should also consider the dimensions and comfort of hand blenders. The length of the wand is an important factor when choosing an immersion blender. Our opinion is, the longer, the better. Ideally, a stick blender should reach to the bottom of your stock pot without immersing your hands. Weight should also be considered. Lighter is better, but don't sacrifice durability. Finally, think about the grip. You want a wand that will be comfortable to hold. Look for an ergonomic design with the grip placed in a well-balanced position and a large button that's easy to press. A cushioned silicone grip offers greater hand comfort when you're tackling big jobs.
When choosing one of these small kitchen appliances, consider a detachable or fixed wand depending on the amount of cooking you do, and what you'll use your hand blender for. Most low- to medium-range commercial models have removable blending wands. Convenient and easy to clean, they offer more versatility by allowing for multiple attachments, and most are dishwasher safe. Higher-end and professional grade models generally have fixed wands. These models are generally more durable and some have more rugged motors. For most home use, though, we prefer the detachable wands.
Cordless hand blenders are convenient because they offer the ultimate in mobility. However, that freedom comes with a price. Battery operated hand blenders just don't have the power of corded models, and there's always the chance that it won't be charged when you need it. We recommend a corded electric hand blender for most kitchens. On the other hand, we have found that it's very convenient to have a cordless model on hand for camping trips, barbecues and events. If you do a lot of cooking away from home, definitely invest in a cordless hand blender to carry in your traveling kit.
Hand Blender Functions and Features
Once a hand blender has passed the basics, you can consider other functions you'd like it to have. When you're deciding which hand blender to buy, think about what you'll be using it for. Will you mostly use it for making soups and sauces? Would you like to be able to chop ice? Do you make a lot of smoothies and shakes? Hand blender functions are fairly straightforward; it's mostly a matter of choosing which accessories matter to you.
If you do a lot of baking or make sauces frequently, look for a hand blender that includes a blending cup. These may seem unnecessary, but we've found them to be incredibly handy. Most have measurements on the side, so you can easily add a tablespoon of cornstarch to a cup of cold chicken stock and blend it thoroughly for a smooth, lump-free gravy. These convenient cups are also just right for mixing up a protein shake or emulsifying a vinaigrette.
Before you decide which hand blender to buy, think about your between-meal beverage consumption as well as your meal prep needs. If you make a lot of smoothies or frozen drink, we suggest investing in a separate bar blender. Some hand blenders do offer ice crushing functionality, but you may overtax the motor if you're using it frequently. For daily use, a bar blender with at least 500 watts and an ice-crushing blade will serve you better. Ice-crushing blenders are available as both full-size and individual serving models.
A number of immersion blenders are available with chopping and dicing attachments that work as small food processors. These can handle a variety of small tasks, like chopping onions, grinding nuts and mincing herbs. If you choose a hand blender with this feature, look for a strong motor, stainless steel blades and a sturdy chopping bowl.
Just like stand mixers, some hand blenders also include a whisk attachment, and we've found this attachment to be very handy for making hollandaise sauce and custards. If you're choosing a hand blender because of the whisk, make sure the model offers a variety of speed settings, since you'll want a slow setting for whisk for melting chocolate and a fast whisk for forming egg whites into stiff peaks. Be sure the whisk's material is compatible with your cookware, as well.
As you look at which hand blender to buy, choose one that comes with a blade guard to protect your hands and the blade's sharp edges. Large buttons make operation easier and add to a blender's convenience. Another nice feature is a wall-mounted holder, which provides convenient storage and keeps the tool out of the reach of kids.
These handy kitchen appliances have won us over with their convenience and versatility. From mashing potatoes to pureeing creamy soups to blending a thick, delicious milkshake, we use our immersion blenders daily. Regardless of which type of hand blender you choose, we bet you'll soon find yourself reaching for it whenever you're prepping a meal.
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