Buying Guide: The Best Hand Blenders For You

The authors of The New Cooks' Catalogue certainly know what to look for when choosing cooking equipment. These leading culinary experts have been evaluating cooking equipment for over 25 years. The following information is what they consider important when selecting a hand blender.

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What to Look For

  • A hand blender should be powerful enough to do most of the jobs assigned to a countertop blender.
  • Models with a cord will usually offer more power but a cordless model provides the greatest freedom of movement. As most blending tasks require only a few minutes of power, the need to recharge is not a disadvantage.
  • Select a machine with attachments that do the jobs you need done most often, whether whipping cream or chopping herbs.

More information

History

A hand blender (also called an immersion blender) is a handheld wand with an electric motor at the top and a rotating blade at the bottom. Professional chefs began using them during the 1960s. The original models were gigantic and heavy--one model was over 4 feet in length and weighed 40 pounds--but like Merlin’s wand they seemed magical.

Uses

Need to emulsify 5 gallons of mayonnaise in a storage container? Purée 20 gallons of pea soup right in the stockpot? No problem. During the late 1980s, scaled-down versions were introduced and gradually became popular with home cooks.

The hand-held blender offers you the convenience of bringing the power to the pot. You can emulsify yogurt in a sauce simmering on the stove without risk of curdling. Or use it for baby food, fruit smoothies, or tomato sauce.

Many hand blenders are designed ergonomically and feature comfortable grips. The cord should extend away from the wand so it doesn’t wander into the pot. A cordless model avoids that problem but may not have the power of plug-ins, and the battery unit must be plugged in to charge when not in use. The cordless design does, however, offer the cook maximum movement.

Containers

Some hand blenders come with a companion container--a useful feature when you are working with smaller quantities. A container with a tapered base is helpful when emulsifying sauces and dressings. Other attachments include a whip, for aerating cream or egg whites, and a minichopper for mincing leafy herbs (but not hard spices). Most provide some kind of stand or housing to store all the parts.

Cleaning

Cleaning a hand blender is easier than a standard countertop blender. Look for detachable shafts that can go into your dishwasher. Otherwise, just run the working head in a container of soapy water and rinse in clear.

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