by Staff Writer
Blenders are one of the most popular small appliances in the home today, and for good reason. Blenders are extremely versatile and helpful in the kitchen. If you're in the market for a blender, you probably feel a little indecisive when faced with the sheer number of choices available. This blender buying guide will help you figure out how to buy the best blender for your kitchen.
Countertop models: Countertop models are the most popular and common type of kitchen blender, and there are many features and styles to choose from. If you need a blender of all trades, choose one with a few different settings and a style you like. If you need a bar blender for your home bar, look for a stylish flip switch or pulse button on a blender with plenty of ice-crushing power and enough capacity to make drinks for the whole party. A few other features you might want to consider for maximum convenience are easy-to-read measure markings on the pitcher, an easy-to-clean detachable blade and an easily accessible wide-mouth container.
Handheld models: Handheld blenders are thin and long and are meant to be submerged in a drink to blend milkshakes or smoothies. Immersion blenders can also be used in a saucepan to puree cooked vegetables for soups or sauces. Immersion blenders are handy to have around for quick, small jobs; they often come with multiple mixing attachments, but you shouldn't expect a handheld blender to be able to replace a countertop blender.
Controls: Many high-price-range blenders come with programmable keypad controls. The upside of a keypad is that it's easy to clean because there are no tiny crevices where food can get stuck. The downside is that if all you need is a bar blender to make margaritas, you might find yourself spending more time navigating the high-tech controls than actually crushing the ice. If you need a blender for multiple, specialized jobs, then navigating the controls might be worth it. Many low- to mid-price-range blenders come with push-button controls or a single flip switch or pulse button. Push-button controls are simple to use and offer just as many options for specialized tasks as high-end keypad blenders, but they may be harder to clean. Flip-switch and pulse-button controls are the most straight-forward of all, but they don't offer multiple options.
Power: When shopping for the right blender, pay attention to how much power it has, particularly for handheld blenders. If you're shopping for a handheld blender, look for something with more than 100 watts of power. A 100-watt immersion blender is cheap, but you may not be able to do more than mix juices with one. Most countertop blenders have somewhere around 500 watts, which is perfectly sufficient for a typical blender workload. It's not necessary to pay more for a high number of watts. You may just end up with a louder machine. Many blenders with 300 to 500 watts are just as capable of crushing ice and making smooth purees as the expensive blenders with 1000 watts.
Looks: Looks aren't everything, but when it comes to a countertop appliance, like a blender, looks can be pretty important. If all your other appliances are brushed steel, you'll probably want to consider a brushed steel blender as opposed to a shiny chrome blender or a white plastic one. Aside from the color, you might also take into consideration whether you prefer a plastic, glass or stainless steel container. While plastic is the least expensive, it can retain smells from different foods and may become scratched and scuffed. Stainless steel is durable and looks sleek and cool, but you can't see through it to check on the progress of whatever you're blending. The only real downside of a glass jar is that glass is breakable, but glass blender containers are usually so thick that they're difficult to break. Other upsides of glass are that it doesn't retain food smells and it's see-through, so you can keep an eye on the contents of your blender. Also, the weight of the glass is helpful for keeping the blender stable and steady while the motor operates.
Blenders are perfect for making smoothies, but if you really want a gourmet, healthy smoothie, try adding freshly squeezed juice from your own home juicer to your smoothie. With a juicer, you can make your own fresh-squeezed juices any time. From classic orange juice to wheatgrass juice, you can make it all in the convenience of your own home.