We all strive to live healthier and cleaner lifestyles, but it can be hard to keep up with when competing with the onslaught of work and the many facets of life. If you are looking for an easier way, blenders are the answer.
Preparing meals that are nutrient dense can be difficult when you have a million other things to do in a given day. By using a blender, you can save time, get healthy, and do it all from the comfort of your own kitchen.
In this guide, we cover all you need to know when it comes these fantastic mini machines. Let's get started.
What is a Blender?
Blenders give you the ability to puree, mix, crush, smooth, and chop. Nearly anything in your kitchen is made into your favorite desserts, meals, and toppings with just the press of a button. It is for this reason that we put together this article. We want to show you everything you need to know about blenders and why you should add one to your list of kitchen favorites.
In this guide, we will discuss the basics of the blender in terms of history, what it is, and how it works. We will also cover popular features, followed by what sets the blender apart from other kitchen appliances. We will even touch on how to keep your blender clean and some maintenance tips as well. Without further ado, let's learn about blenders!
Definition of a Blender
For those of you that are just curious about what the textbook definition of a blender is, here it is. It's "an electric culinary grinding and mixing appliance, consisting of a container with propeller-like blades at the bottom that are whirled by a high-speed motor to purée, chop, or mix foods." So exciting!
With this new knowledge, it's important to note that blenders have been used for decades within homes, laboratories, offices and commercial kitchens. They have done everything from blending ingredients to extracting bacteria from samples.
Blenders have many functions in the kitchen and perform more tasks that you may think. We all know them to make incredible smoothies and shakes, but they are also capable of whipping up actual dishes. You can make soups, nut butter, nut milk, sauces, pesto, hummus, and more. Blenders are designed to make multitasking in the kitchen possible by performing the heavy lifting work for you.
How Do Blenders Work?
To fully understand how a blender works, let us first get acquainted with its parts. In a basic blender, you will find the housing, blade, jar, the jar base, lid, and lid cap. You will also find an electrical cable and plug, and seal ring. All together these components work together to make whatever you need for your meals.
The way that blenders work is through the motor that is equipped within the housing. The motor gives the blender the power and speed needed to blend. The blender housing, sometimes called 'blender base' is also where you will find the speed controls and power switch. The speed controls give you the ability to change the blade speed for the type of blend consistency you are looking for.
The blender base is usually made from durable plastic or stainless steel to ensure that none of the parts come apart during the blending process. If you love mechanics, the housing also contains the drive clutch. This is the part that connects the motor and the blades to create the motion needed to blend.
The most important part of the blender are the blades, as this is what gives the blender the ability to chop, shred, dice, and pulverize your ingredients. The blades are located inside a blending container or jar along with a sealing ring. The sealing ring ensures that the contents inside the blending jar do not leak onto the counter.
Blender blades come in all shapes and sizes, from single point to multi point assemblies. Some brands, like Blendtec, even boast a dull blade. Blendtec makes up for this using a unique blade shape and specially shaped blending containers.
In addition, blender blades are also responsible for doing the strong work of breaking down ingredients into a smooth, even consistency. Usually, the stronger the blade, the better the blend especially when it comes to crushing through tough ingredients like ice or frozen fruit.
Lastly, the blender container is where you get to watch the magic happen. Along with the lid, the blender container keeps the contents of the blender off the walls, floor, and counter. Most lids also include special caps so that you can add additional ingredients to the mix.
Blender containers range in size from small, personal cups to large, family sized jars. Containers are also made in a variety of materials including glass and Tritan grade plastic.
The blender parts are not the only thing that give blenders the ability to blend food. The blades work to break down the ingredients on contact. After that, a bit of science comes into play to make the job more effective. The circular motion of the blades creates a vortex within the container. The vortex then causes the contents to be pulled down and flung out to the sides of the jar.
This flinging motion creates an occurrence called cavitation. Through cavitation, small bubbles are formed that are created from rips in the liquid that the blades are blending. When the bubbles collide with the pressure of the vortex, it creates shock waves that help to liquefy whatever is within the blender. Who knew that smoothies could be so exciting!
History of Blenders
The idea of the blender started with a man named Stephen Poplawski. He wanted to create a machine that made it easier to make milkshakes and malts. The device he came up with ended up being a container connected to a motor with a spinning blade at its base, and he later filed for a patent for it in 1922.
Not too long after, Fred Osius came up with his own idea of this machine got a patent for it in 1938. He needed funding for his project, so he partnered with Fred Waring, and together they worked to improve Osius's model. Eventually, the partnership fizzled, and the two went separate ways, with Waring coming up with his own design.
With this, the Miracle Mixer blender was created in 1937 by Waring, and in 1938 he changed the name to the Waring Blendor. The new and perfected machine was a success and paved the way for the blenders that we all love today.
Since its invention, there have been many special designs and new ideas that have become popular outside of the standard blender. Most of these designs have been created to make blends smoother, faster, and quieter.
The most impressive special design is perhaps the bullet blender models. Bullet blenders are blenders that replace the traditional blending base and container with more compact parts. A small blending base and cup are typically included in these unique blender bundles.
What makes bullet models different is that there is no need for a power switch or speed controls as they are operated manually. All you have to do is load the cup onto the base, press down on the container, and it starts blending on its own. Some popular brands in this category are Ninja, Magic Bullet, and NutriBullet.
However, don't let the small stature fool you. Some bullet models are surprisingly powerful even though they are so small and can easily handle ice, frozen fruit, nuts, and seeds.
Personal blenders are also unique in that their use is entirely based on single serving drinks. In fact, most bullet blenders also qualify as personal blenders! Personal blenders are easily portable and usually very affordable. While they do not typically have as much motor power capacity, these mini machines help to keep you healthy while on the go.
We all know how loud blenders can be, with some blenders more deafening than others, and many of us assume that we simply have to put up with the noise. Although there is no way to get rid of the sound completely, there is a way that you can lessen the noise, and that is by finding a quiet blender that is specifically designed to make the noise level as quiet as possible.
Quiet blenders are made with sound enclosures for noise control. The main way that this works is by attempting to limit the sound through insulation, either in the housing of the blender or on top of the jar. In the housing, rubber is used to absorb the sound from the motor. On the jar, a durable plastic shield is used to cover the jar and dampen the sound.
These methods and more are still being tested and improved. Because of this, domestic quiet blenders are still quite rare, and usually pretty expensive.
Blender bottles are unique in that they operate with no motor. Usually, blender bottles are made from durable plastic and contain a small wire whisk ball. When shaken, the wire whisk acts as a mixer and blends ingredients together.
Admittedly, blender bottles are better for protein shakes where the only things being blended are liquid and a small amount of powder. However, blender bottles are also beginning to evolve into even more unique shapes and sizes and can handle more advanced ingredients like nut butters and soft fruits.
Special Features of Blenders
Blenders are becoming increasingly advanced. Features that used to be reserved for high end models are now widely available in the market for a fraction of the cost. It's now possible to purchase one blender bundle and be able to do everything from breakfast smoothies, to baby food to hot soups.
Pre Programmed Controls
In a fast paced world, automation is the way to achieve efficiency in the kitchen. In other words, set it and forget it. Many blenders come with pre programmed buttons and give you the ability to chop, dice, grind, puree, and more. Pre programmed controls also mean that you will achieve the same, consistent blend, every time.
Leveling up from pre programmed controls, a smart blender is a machine with special technology designed to aid in meal prep. This technology manifests itself in different ways according to the blender manufacturer.
For example, the Vitamix Ascent Series features a SELF-DETECT© technology which means that the blender base automatically knows which container has been placed on the base. Once this container has been recognized, the motor adjusts itself accordingly in order to achieve a perfect blend.
Ninja also makes a blender with an Auto-iQ© technology feature. This technology enables the blender to combine blade timing, pulsing, and pause patterns to create the perfect blend.
With smart technology taking over modern homes, it was only a matter of time before it made it into the kitchen as well. These modern features are sure to be a staple in blender design going forward.
Many blenders are now sold as a bundle with the option to add on special attachments and accessories. While brands offer different things, many provide as many options as possible in order be a one-stop-shop. In other words, increased productivity in the kitchen saves time and boosts positivity around healthy lifestyles.
To start, many blenders now come with at least one additional blending cup. The added container is typically a size smaller and gives the option to make a single serving blend rather than larger amounts.
Next, some brands also include grinders and food processor attachments. Grinders are great for things like crushing pepper or coffee beans while food processors are great for hummus and nut butter.
Finally, special blending jars round out the attachment offerings. These jars are often made as add ons to the main blender and specialize in things dry ingredients and dough. Both Vitamix and Blendtec are known for their custom jar offerings.
Multi Purpose Blenders
Some blenders do not need any special attachments because they can do it all in a single jar. These types of blenders are perfect for busy families or for those who hate washing up multiple pots and pans.
For example, the Instant Ace Plus Cooking Blender made by Instant Pot is a perfect multi use machine. This blender features ten one touch buttons and can even make hot soup.
Multi use blenders are also ideal for those who do a wide variety of meal prep. Being able to use one machine for breakfast smoothies, baby food, guacamole, margaritas, and tomato soup is truly impressive. Saving time in the kitchen has never been easier thanks to multi purpose blenders.
With proper maintenance and regular cleaning, a blender can last for years. Whether it's by hand or in the dishwasher, keeping a blender free from food particles between use is essential. This helps to prevent rust and rapid aging, but also prevents your next smoothie from tasting like last nights garlic pesto.
Washing by Hand
After use, the blender jar, blades, and lid are usually covered in ingredients. After all, cavitation is no subtle process. Washing by hand is a quick way to ensure that the blender gets thoroughly scrubbed from all remaining food particles.
The best way to do this is by using a bottle brush or a scrubber with a long handle. It's important to be mindful of the sharp blades at the bottom of the jar which is why using a long handled brush is best.
Even better, some blenders are easily disassembled and the blending jar can be washed separately while the blades sit safely nearby. A quick rinse or light scrub is usually all that is needed to clean most blender parts by hand. As always, be mindful of the sharp blades in order to prevent cuts and scrapes!
For ease of use, many blenders are now dishwasher safe. That is to say, the jar, blades, and lids are dishwasher safe, as anything with electronic parts such as the motor should never come in contact with water.
Moreover, it's important to always read the owner's manual to properly ensure that a blender is actually dishwasher safe before placing it inside the dishwasher. It's also helpful to be mindful of the water temperature inside your dishwasher as some plastics will not perform well under high temperatures. If in doubt, hand washing is the way to go.
Self Cleaning Feature
Most impressive of all when it comes to maintenance are blenders with a self cleaning feature. For blenders with this feature, all that is needed is a drop of soap and some hot water in the blending container.
Once placed back on the blending base, the blades make quick work of swirling the water around in the jar using the same vortex concept as is used during normal food blending. The blender itself is now also a dishwasher! All that is left to do is a quick rinse with clean water.
The best way to dry a freshly washed blender is by air drying. By completely drying all of the blender parts, this ensures that moisture will not build up anywhere in the blender between uses. Moisture can cause rust, buildup, and mold which destroy the blender over time.
For best results, it's important to ensure that your blending container has proper air flow while drying. Utilizing a small drying rack or simply propping a wooden spoon underneath the edge of the container will allow the air to properly dry the container.
If time is of essence, a towel can also be utilized to dry out most of the moisture before storing. Either way, storing the blending container upside down is more preferable because this also keeps dust and other debris away from the blades.
Depending on the size of the blender, most fit easily inside standard kitchen cabinets. Often times, however, blenders remain out on the countertop for quick use. This is common especially of small blenders which are more compact and take up less of a footprint on the countertop.
Before storing, the blender should always be washed and dried properly. If working with a blender with special attachments, these attachments also need to be washed and dried properly. It helps to then store all attachments nearby the blender base so as to keep a clean and organized kitchen.
Blenders are powerful kitchen companions used to level up and enable a healthy lifestyle. With a little practice, anyone can use a blender to supplement their personal health goals. Moreover, with proper care blenders can last for years and become a staple kitchen appliance.
If you are in the market for a new blender, check out the latest best blenders in our thorough review and blender buying guide.
We look forward to hearing about all of the exciting things that you make with your blender. Be sure to reach out and let us know about your blended creations. Happy blending!