Munich - Blenders are practical items of equipment for home kitchens, whipping up smoothies from fresh fruit and vegetables, crushing ice, chopping nuts and pureeing soups or baby foods. They are ideal for any recipes involving chopping or liquidising. But the market is full of products offering a host of different power ratings and features that may have a significant effect on their use. TÜV SÜD expert Christian Kästl advises consumers what to look out for.
The performance of a blender is determined by three main features: the power rating, the container, and the blade. “The choice of model depends on the purpose you have in mind”, explains Christian Kästl. “For example, if you aim to use the blender to make crushed ice, you need high speed and a rugged, durable container; to prepare baby food, on the other hand, the blender should have a powerful motor and blades that create a good ‘whirlpool effect’ for even and thorough mixing of the blended contents.” As an important criterion for all models, the design should allow easy dismantling of all parts for cleaning, and simple reassembly for safe operation. The various parts should ideally be dishwasher-safe. Quality workmanship is also a major point to note in making a purchase; the appliance should be solidly built and stable, preferably with suction-cup feet, and the lid should be closely fitting and easy to close.
Motor power – for smoother, finer chopping
While blenders with power ratings of 400 watts and upwards are fine for making soups and smoothies, high-powered models with around 1,700 watts are also available. These powerful appliances are likely to shorten blending time considerably; however, check for the longest possible rated operating time, otherwise overheating may result, shortening the life of your blender. While motor power is the watchword for smooth, creamy soups, high speed is a critical factor for light, airy shakes and smoothies. Blenders with a choice of power and speed settings are useful, enabling you to align the setting to the task at hand. Some models have stepless speed settings. A special crushed ice or pulse setting may also be a useful feature. However, note that appliances that deliver higher power are often accompanied by higher volumes – some up to 90 decibels. Even in full operation, a good blender should not be too loud, as the operator is always directly next to the appliance.
Blender jars – glass or plastic?
Blenders have a base containing the electric motor upon which the jar or container is placed. The jar may have a capacity of up to 1.9 litres, and should ideally have a clearly legible measuring scale. It may be of glass or plastic. While a glass container is more durable, the extra weight may make it more difficult to use. “Anyone planning to blend soup in the appliance should check beforehand whether hot or warm foods can be blended”, warns Christian Kästl. The shape of the jar also affects the final result; it must be designed to allow the contents to move smoothly and freely around the blade area. Where lid closure is concerned, safety is a vital consideration if there are children in the household; here, it is wise to choose a model that automatically switches off, or cannot be switched on, if the lid is not properly closed, otherwise there may be considerable risk of injury. To enable ingredients to be added quickly and easily during operation, a lid with a removable centre is useful. The blender should also switch off automatically if the blade is jammed or if the jar is removed from the base – a procedure that should be as simple as possible, preferably needing only one hand.
Blades – their quality and design
The rotating blades that chop the blender contents are located in the base. They too are available in a variety of designs, with two, three or four knives which may be at different heights. The blade design, quality and workmanship also affect the blending results. Blades with more than two knives and with serrated edges generally deliver better blending results. They should be made from quality hardened stainless steel to eliminate corrosion and lengthen their service life.
Consulting a specialist retailer is a good idea, particularly when it comes to investigating the noise level, stability and handling of the mixer. Helpful guidance over product quality is also provided by the GS (“Tested Safety”) mark or the TÜV SÜD octagon mark, which confirm that the device has been thoroughly tested by experts and is of high quality.