Types: Blenders are designed specifically for prepping food or concocting blended beverages. Beverage blenders combine container and blade design to fully process ice-based drinks quickly and to the desired consistency. Some beverage blenders are programmable, which provides drink repeatability and helps improve speed of service. Food blenders combine container and blade design to fully process raw foods and vegetables.
Blenders have a single-blade assembly at the bottom of their mixing containers. Portable immersion blenders have a removable blade affixed to their shafts, and end users can use them with any food container.
Food processors offer operators a quick and efficient method of cutting foods, usually produce items, by using interchangeable blades or discs to slice, shred, blend or grind products. They are designed with one-, two- or variable-speed control to give operators flexibility when preparing dishes. A variety of food processors are available, including combination units, which include bowls and continuous-feed vegetable prep units; bowl cutter-mixers; vegetable preparation units; vertical cutter-mixers; combination blender/food processors; and power mixers (stick blenders).
Capacities/Footprints: Food blenders offer from 32 ounces to up to a gallon container capacity in either a 7˝ x 7˝ or 9˝ x 9˝ footprint.
Both combination units and bowl cutter-mixers are available with bowl capacities ranging from 2.5 to 7 quarts. Vertical cutter-mixers are available with capacities ranging from 8 to 60 quarts. Blixer combination blender/food processors are offered in 2.5- to 60-quart capacities. Power mixers (stick blenders), both individual units and combi series, process from 6 quarts to 75 gallons.
Tabletop, floor and combination blender/food processors model food processors occupy up to 2 square feet of space.
Energy Sources: Blenders and food processors require 120 volts AC power at 50/60 Hz, but some are available in 220/240 volt models. Floor-model processors require 60 Hz power, at 155 volts or 208/240 volts AC and may require three-phase wiring.
Manufacturing Method: Most blenders are made up of several key parts, including a steel blade, a container with a lid, and a motor.
Food blender containers are available in stainless steel and polycarbonate. Bowls are constructed of brushed stainless steel, gray polycarbonate plastic or clear polycarbonate plastic, depending on the unit specified.
Continuous-feed processors use cast-aluminum feed heads. Immersion blenders have stainless steel cutting shafts and blades that can be easily removed for cleaning.
Standard Features: Blenders have one-, two- or variable-speed configurations and motors ranging from ½- to 3-horsepower. Food processors usually come with a basic set of slicing/cutting blades.
Blixers come with see-through lids, as do some food processors, and scraper attachments to enable thorough mixing of ingredients as well as easy addition of ingredients.
New Features/Technology/Options: New bowl designs are available. Noise-reducing features are becoming more common as are one-touch features.
Ice dispenser/blender combinations allow ice to be dispensed directly in predetermined quantities into a blending container.
Key Kitchen Applications: Bowl units are used for mixing, chopping, pureeing, blending and preparing dough for a variety of menu items, including soups, salad dressings, batters and pureed fruits and vegetables.
Vegetable preparation units are used for quality continuous-feed slicing, dicing, shredding and grating in addition to making julienne and French fry cuts.
Beverage blenders are utilized primarily for making smoothies, milkshakes and other blended drinks. But chefs look to multipurpose blenders for creating soups, purees and salad dressings.
Purchasing Guidelines: When purchasing a blender, it is important to consider the types of dishes that it will be used for. Will the unit be used for drink preparation or for food preparation? Will smooth textures be created or will more horsepower be needed to handle tougher blends?
Cutter-mixers are large units designed for vertical cutting and mixing. These units puree, mix and chop as well as blend, mix and knead dough.
Combination food processor/blender machines perform functions of these two in one machine.
Power mixers are portable stick blenders ideal for liquefying soups and sauces, pureeing fruits and vegetables and preparing pates.