Immersion blenders, often called stick blenders, are portable blenders that can often be used in place of a full sized blender. Perfect for sauces, soups, and smoothies, the immersion blender can be used for almost anything a regular blender can be used for, but it is much more portable and convenient. There are several important factors you should take into consideration when you are about to purchase an immersion blender.
There is really only one type of immersion blender. These devices have a motor on top, which is also part of the handle in many cases, with a cord that plugs into a standard outlet for power. The middle section of the immersion blender is usually simply a stick, or shaft, that can vary in length. The stick connects the motor to the blade. The length of the shaft is important for varying uses of the immersion blender. Below the shaft, you will find the blender blades surrounded by a cage-like covering for safety. The covering usually has holes in it to allow the food to go in and out of the blades for efficient blending.
The amount of power that the motor of an immersion blender generates is an important factor to consider. The power of immersion blenders varies with ranges from about 100 watts to over 500 watts of power in a few of the very heavy duty models. While you probably do not need the most powerful motors, you should know that the more powerful the motor, the more likely it will be able to handle heavy duty tasks such as crushing ice. Nonetheless, an immersion blender with a 200 watt motor should be sufficient for most uses including pureeing soups and making smoothies. This is assuming that the design of the immersion blender you choose is efficient, meaning that it moves food in and out of the blades effectively.
The controls of an immersion blender are also important to take note of. Some models require constant pressure on the power button. While this may be a safety feature, it is also difficult to maneuver when trying to pour ingredients and blend simultaneously. In addition, the number of speeds of the immersion blender is important too. Many of the lower end models offer two speeds, low and high, while more expensive models offer four to six levels for more precision and control needed for some items. Most people, however, will not likely need more than two speeds. Two speeds offers the simplicity and ease that many cooks will enjoy.
The weight of the blender should be a consideration as well. A very heavy immersion blender may have a very strong motor, but it will cause your arm to tire of holding it very quickly. It may also be unusable in certain situations such as when you only have one hand available because the other is busy pouring more ingredients. In addition, you will want to see how the grip of the blender feels in your hand. Some are much more ergonomically balanced than others. You want something that you can easily hold and operate.
The material of the immersion blender is important. Most have blades made out of stainless steel, but they have other parts made of plastic. While plastic is more lightweight and generally less expensive, it has some basic negatives in an immersion blender. For one, plastic parts that are immersed in foods may get easily stained and look unclean. In addition, plastic parts are more likely to break, especially when immersed in foods of different temperatures or harder foods such as when trying to crush ice. An immersion blender that is fully stainless steel is a better option for most situations.
You will want to consider how many different attachments the immersion blender may have. Lower models may have few, if any. Higher end models may have more attachments, making them more versatile kitchen tools. However, with these extra attachments, comes a higher price tag, so you need to decide if it is worthwhile or if you already have tools to do the same jobs in your arsenal. Attachments may do things like chopping, whipping, or frothing, among others. In addition, whether the blender has extra attachments or not, you will want to consider how these items will be washed. Some may be detachable and dishwasher safe, while others may not. Some may be difficult to keep clean, and the chore may prohibit you from using the appliance very often.
Storage of an immersion blender is another factor to keep in mind. Some may come equipped with a wall mount for easy storage, but you must have a free space on the wall to attach it to. If it does not have a wall mount, you will need to decide if it can sit on the counter or if it will need to be kept in a drawer or a cabinet. This may depend on the size of the item and the number of accessories, so they are all things you will need to keep in mind.
Braun does not offer many kitchen appliances in the American market anymore, but their upper end immersion blender can still be found.
Breville makes several models of immersion blenders in a variety of price ranges.
Cuisinart offers immersion blenders with various features in the lower and moderate price range.
Epica has several moderately priced immersion blenders on the market.
Hamilton Beach markets small kitchen appliances such as the immersion blender at lower end prices.
Kitchenaid offers some lower priced models as well as at least one moderately priced model of immersion blender.
OXO offers a fully featured immersion blender for an upper level price tag.
Proctor-Silex sells immersion blenders at a variety of price ranges for all consumers.
Waring offers professional quality immersion blenders for a premium price for those that use the appliance and its many attachments frequently.