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More than 90% of US households report having a blender in their household. This popular small kitchen appliance is also known as a liquidizer in the United Kingdom. The task of a blender is to crush, mix, liquefy or emulsify food. Modern blenders have been around the kitchen since X; the first generation of blenders consisted of a stationary metal or plastic piece with a rotating blade at the other hand. While stationary blenders still exist, today the newer generation of blenders consists of a plastic or glass container in which the food is poured and crushed or liquified with a fast-rotating blade at the base.
There are many types, sizes, and varieties of blenders on the market, depending on what type of food you want to be crushed. The few advantages of a blender include 1) ) shortening the food-making process by half when compared with a food processor, and 2) the ability to prepare a wide range of foods and beverages that could be made including smoothies, purees, cocktails, and more. Unlike the past, the modern-day blender is versatile and has many uses which include the following:
- Blend all types of foods to make a puree
- Crush solids into powders
- Help with the preparation of beverages like frappuccino, milkshakes, smoothies, etc
- Assist with emulsification of two liquids
Puree is a process where an already cooked or naturally solid food is blended or ground to make it into a liquid-like consistency. Foods that are pureed include fruits, vegetables, or legumes. In general, when food is pureed contains the following properties:
- No chewing required
- No lumps or chunks
- Consumed with a spoon or sipped in a glass
- Not sticky
- Liquid is smooth and easy to swallow
Common foods that can be pureed include:
- Cream of wheat (eg cereals)
- Extremely well blended mashed potatoes
- Apple sauce
- Dairy foods like Ice Cream, yogurt
- Cooked meat, fish, or chicken
- Fruits (bananas, apples, avocados)
- Cooked pasta
- Bread, muffins
- Legumes like peas, beans, chickpeas
When are pureed foods recommended?
Pureed foods are recommended when the food recipe calls for it or when an individual is unable to chew, has weak strength of the oral cavity muscles, or lacks coordination between swallowing and chewing pureed foods are recommended. Pureed foods are used to feed infants and people with medical disorders like Parkinson's disease, certain dementias, strokes, or cancers of the head and neck area. Any person at high risk of choking on solid food can benefit from pureed foods. Because pureed foods require no chewing, they do not remain in the mouth after swallowing.
The important thing to understand is that pureed foods should be precooked before blending; this process can improve the texture and flavor and lower the water content.
To use a blender for a milkshake, start by adding ingredients such as ice cream, milk, and if you’d like to add flavoring, then you can add a flavoring agent like caramel, vanilla, butterscotch, chocolate syrup, or any whole fruit (most common is strawberry). While in most cases a milkshake is made with cow’s milk as a major component, today there are several non-dairy products like coconut milk, almond milk, or soy milk that can be used. Most full-service restaurants prepare the shake in a special mixer known as a milkshake machine but at home, a regular blender will work just as well.
3. Making Cocktails
A third blender usage is to make a cocktail which is a mixed alcoholic drink. A cocktail is a mixture of spirits or a spirit mixed with cream, flavored syrup, or fruit juice. Common spirits include vodka, rum, gin, and whiskey that can be combined with soda water, lime juice, or any type of syrup that you prefer. Most people add a touch of sugar to balance the flavor. The two most popular blended cocktails are the frozen margarita and pina colada. To make the most flavorful cocktail, the blending should be done with ice. Place all the ingredients with the ice in a blender and blend until you obtain a smooth flowing mixture. If you use a blender with variable speed, always start slow and gradually build up speed. Blended cocktails are best served at 28 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another popular use for a blender is making smoothies. A smoothie has a milkshake-like consistency but is much thicker or viscous. All smoothies contain three key ingredients: the base (liquid), food item, and ice. You first add the food item, then you can gradually add the liquid (usually water but can be a soda or syrup) and ice to get the consistency you desire. One can vary the smoothie viscosity by altering the ratio of the liquid and solid items; for example, if you want a free-flowing smoothie, add more liquid and fewer solids and vice versa. To enhance the flavor of a smoothie, you can add vitamin supplements or flavored protein powder. In addition, the smoothie can be garnished with lemon slices, fresh mint leaves, whole fruit, and a variety of exotic spices like cinnamon or cloves.
5. Making Frappuccino
To use a blender to make a Frappuccino, you will need to blend coffee, ice, flavored syrups, and either milk or whipped cream. This rich creamy coffee-based drink is patented by Starbucks but there is no reason why you cannot make it at home. You can customize the drink according to your taste. The ingredients for a Frappuccino include:
- Brewed coffee (usually a strong brew because it will be diluted by the milk and ice)
- I cup of milk ( you can use non-dairy milk like almond or soy)
- 2 cups of ice
- 2-3 tablespoons of sugar
- I teaspoon of Sauce or syrup is optional (eg vanilla, hazelnut, caramel)
- Place the ingredients in a blender for about 45-60 seconds or until the mixture has a smooth consistency.
- Serve cold
To impress your friends, you can always add some extra touches like a little whipped cream or a splash of your favorite sauce (chocolate or caramel)
6. Assist with emulsification
Water and oil don’t readily mix, and therefore to combine or emulsify them using a blender. Emulsification is frequently used in the kitchen to prepare sauces like salad dressings, mayonnaise, hollandaise, or bearnaise sauce. In general, emulsified mixtures tend to be creamy or a thick viscous liquid, Emulsification can be done with a whisker (e.g. beating eggs) but the suspension may separate after some time. To obtain more permanent emulsification, a blender can do the job better than a hand whisk. In most cases, when oily foods are blended with water, the mixture will eventually break and separate into two layers. To prevent this from happening, you can add an emulsifier. Emulsifiers help maintain the liquid suspension stable. Common emulsifiers used in the kitchen include lecithin, polyglycerol esters, ammonium phosphatide, and many more.
The ideal way of making an emulsion is to combine the two liquids in small quantities using a blender at a slow speed. Try to make the emulsion at room temperature because the mixture will separate at extremes of temperature. The blending should be done in short bursts until the mixture is smooth. After the emulsion is made (e.g. salad dressing), it should be stored at about 25* C. Before use, you need to shake the container to obtain a homogeneous mixture.
7. Work as a grinder
The latest small high-velocity blenders can also be used as grinders. For example, you can use a blender to grind coarse spices. It is important not to grind hard spices like cinnamon or cloves in a blender as the appliance can break. But you can blend thyme, rosemary, black pepper, garlic, marjoram, etc. Blenders with a steel container instead of glass or plastic serve well for this purpose. The one downside of blending spices is that the fine powder can get stuck in the grooves and walls of the blender. But this is a minor inconvenience because the process of blending is fast and produces a consistently fine powder.
8. Dissolve solids
One great advantage of a blender is that it can be used to dissolve solids into a liquid. For example, if you have corn starch powder and want to dissolve it in water before use, you can blend the mixture. All you do is add the water and then gradually add the cornstarch. You can always add more water if granules of cornstarch have not dissolved. Another use of the blender is to make crushed ice if you are making a smoothie or a cold beverage. Again not all blenders can blend ice cubes because the ice may stick to the side walls or the blades. Durable glass blenders tend to produce more consistent snow-like powder without large chunks.
9. Crush foods
If you regularly use frozen foods in your cooking, then a blender can be helpful. It can crush ice, ice, frozen fruit, and vegetables. This is desirable if you are making purees and smoothies. The key is to have a durable blender with varying speeds. You do not have to thaw the frozen food items to blend- just put them inside the blender and it will do the crushing immediately.
Blenders have been used in the scientific and medical laboratory for decades to mix, grind, blend, and emulsify all types of liquids. In addition, the blender is often used to crush large chemicals into powders for use in experiments. The laboratory blenders are far advanced and come with more durable features to protect the user.
11. Make Sauces
Finally, a blender is helpful for making sauces from fruits and vegetables. The key to making the most flavorful sauces is to use fresh ingredients. Because most foods contain some water, the resulting sauce can be watery. Hence you may need to add a teaspoon of cornstarch to thicken it. You can add a variety of spices, condiments, and juices to make the sauce flavorful. Sauces that can be easily made in a blender include Hollandaise, Marinara, Tomato-vodka, Creamy garlic, Apple and Cranberry, Creamy avocado, hummus, and many more.
What are the common mistakes for usage of a blender?
Common mistakes for the usage of a blender include the following:
- Throwing all the ingredients in at the same time overloads the blades which may not spin efficiently and the ingredients do not get chopped evenly. Always start by adding small amounts of each solid ingredient first; water or ice should be added last to avoid making the mixture too watery.
- Use fresh quality ingredients to get the best results. Using overripe fruits and vegetables leads to a poor quality end product
- To maintain your blender, always wash it right away after use. This prevents food particles from sticking to the base; food left in the blender can lead to bacterial growth
- Always unplug the blender after use- this way you avoid injury
- Read the label and use the blender as it indicated. Using the wrong ingredients can lead to damage to the blender
What is the history of usage of blenders?
The blender is a relatively new appliance in the kitchen. It was invented in the late 1920s by Stephen Poplawski who owned the Stevens Electric company. Stephen was trying to mix beverages like milkshakes and malts which had just become popular drinks at restaurants. It was Stephens who thought of placing a rotating blade at the container base and the rest is history. But it was the development of the electrical motor in 1910 which made Stephen’s blender a reality. Over the ensuing years, various types of containers were built to blend liquids and crush food items. The blender as we know of it today initially had several technical problems and did not take off until after the 2nd World War. Soon after the war, the blenders were used in the research labs where they were used to emulsify and blend chemical solutions. In the meantime, the hand-held blender was developed and it was a common kitchen appliance until the1980s. As technology improved the container blenders became the gold standard and are preferred over the hand-held mixers.
Do the use cases of a blender change based on type?
Yes the use cases of a blender change based on the blender type. Not all blenders are the same; they vary in function, speed, and types of blades; Besides speed control, you need to consider capacity and number of servings. The types of blenders you should consider include:
Kitchen blenders or the traditional countertop blenders are versatile, have a large capacity and most have variable speed meaning you can puree and also chop. However, these blenders may not be great at grinding and since they have many parts; thorough cleaning is necessary.
Single-serve blenders are compact, small, and powerful; they are made for a single serving of a shake or smoothie. These blenders can crush frozen fruit/ice and do not take much countertop space. The container can be turned into a cup from which you can drink. They are ideal for a single person.
Blender bottles allow you to quickly blend shakes and mix protein powders. The blender bottles come with a leak-proof lid and a small ball whisk to blend the contents. But the small size won’t allow you to break down large items; these bottle blenders are only meant to mix the powder with liquids. The blender bottles come with a chargeable base and are easy to clean.
Immersion blenders are generally used for mixing and are not great at breaking down chunks. They work well for most veggies, fruits, powders, and dairy products. You throw your ingredients into a jar or wide container to start the mixing process. They are ideal for making baked goods and the best part- they are very easy to clean.
Blender Combos are the latest trend and consist of a blender, mixer, and food processor in one unit. These combo blenders can perform multiple functions including blending cocktails, extracting fresh juice, making dough, or a smoothie. The combo appliance helps save money and counter space.
Which blender is best for blending fruit smoothies?
The best blender for a fruit smoothie is the Ninja BL610 Professional 72 Oz Countertop Blender because it has ample power, varying speed, and sharp, shallow blades. If the blender lacks these features, the smoothie may be left with strings or chunks of fruits. If you are going to be making smoothies of hard fruits like apples or carrots, you need to know the puree rating; the higher the number, the better the appliance. Finally, if you will be adding ice to your smoothie, read the label if the blender can crush ice- not all blenders can do that.
Does a food processor have more use cases than a blender?
A food processor does not have more use cases than a blender. A food processor is generally ideal for solid foods and is much better at handling actions like slicing and chopping. A blender is best suited for mixing soft foods and liquids- like soups and smoothies. One can use the blender as a food processor by changing the settings but the result is not as great as a food processor. The reason why food processors fare better is because they have varying speeds and pulse controls, and in addition, they also come with a wide range of blade accessories that can perform tasks like slicing, shredding, chopping, grating, and mixing. Finally, the food processor blades are razor sharp and shallow whereas the blades in a blender tend to be thick and dull. For this reason, food processors excel at pulverizing foods like garlic and onions.
What are the other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to blender?
Kitchen tools that have various use cases similar to a blender include choppers, mixers, food processors, grinders, mortars and pestles, and rolling pills. The list below expands on the similar kitchen tools in more depth:
- Chopper is a kitchen appliance with only one blade that can puree, chop and mix small amounts of food. Some newer models also come with a whisk. For safety, many new choppers have an extension tube to add the ingredients and have multiple blades. Choppers can cut food items but are not great at mixing or blending.
- Mixer: A mixer has many functions including chopping, mixing, whipping, and grating food items uniformly. They are often used to whip eggs and create dough. Mixers can blend liquid mixtures but do not do a good job with solids.
- Food processors have multiple uses including blending, mixing, cutting and chopping food items. They function well with both dry and wet foods. The latest models come with several accessories that make the food processor an invaluable appliance in the kitchen
- Grinder are appliances with two functions; mixing and grinding. They usually have a port where the food items are added and then the rotating part does the grinding. Grinders are useful for making ground beef but can be used to grind any solid food. Small grinders are often used to grind coffee beans, seeds, and spices. The result is a fine mix without any lumps.
- Mortar and pestle: While not as fancy as the modern-day kitchen appliance, the mortar and pestle have stood the test of time. It can be used to crush, pound, and smash all types of foods. The mortar is a durable bowl made of wood or ceramic and the pestle is the grinding club made of the same fabric.
- The Rolling pill is a long cylindrical instrument that is used to roll out all types of dough when making pastries, bread, pita bread, and pies. The same tool can be used to crush small amounts of bread crumbs, biscuits, species, or crackers. Rolling pins are usually made of wood and come with a large circular board.
These kitchen utensils and kitchen appliances share similar utility and perform comparable functions as a blender.