Chances are that if you do much cooking, the time will come when youíll need some version of a hand blender. Whether youíre a professional chef with top-of-the line equipment, or a home cook just learning the ropes, there are a few basic things to look for before you buy.
There are two primary types of hand mixers: traditional hand mixers with dual blades and immersion or wand blenders. Each type of hand mixer is useful in different scenarios. Immersion blenders are great for use in soft food items or if you need to blend and cook at the same time - you donít have to remove your mixture from the stove while you use an immersion blender, and you can use it in practically any type of container. However, an immersion blender lacks the power for some heartier tasks. Baking with thick dough, mashing potatoes or crushing ice is best done with a blade mixer. Hand mixers with blades can do more than immersion blenders, and many manufacturers offer interchangeable attachments that allow you to use dough hooks, whisks or liquid-blender rods.
Youíll also want to consider how heavy the hand mixer is, and whether youíll be able to sustain its weight for extended periods of time. Immersion blenders are lighter weight than hand mixers, and for seriously heavy-duty applications, such as extensive baking, you may even want to consider a stand mixer. Hand mixers that are too lightweight may not be able to stand up to heavy or frequent use, so itís best to find a nice middle ground.
Wattage vs. RPM
The most important thing to keep in mind when shopping for a hand mixer: Wattage is not the key factor in determining how well a hand mixer will perform. The true measure of performance is the number of revolutions per minute (RPMs) that a hand mixer boasts. A high wattage unit with a low RPM may have enough electrical power to perform tough tasks, but without the motor power to back it up, it wonít be able to follow through. A motor with a high wattage but a low RPM rating wonít process food as effectively as a motor with a medium wattage and higher RPM. Most non-professional hand mixers range from 200 to 400 watts, but they can go as high as 600W. RPMs typically range from 540 at the low end all the way up to 10,000 for professional models.
Look for models that feature at least three clearly delineated speeds, which are essential if you plan to use your hand mixer for a variety of tasks. If hand mixer features more than three speeds, consider it a bonus. Some models come with up to nine speeds, which allows for customization based on your use. However, most mixing occurs at three speeds: The slow speed should be slow enough to prevent spattering, and the high speed should be fast enough to add the air youíll need to produce light, creamy mixes like meringues. Yhe middle speed tackles everything in between.
Blade Material Composition
An important factor to consider when purchasing a hand mixer with blades is whether your blades will be composed of plastic or metal. Stainless-steel blades resist staining better than plastic blades and may perform better when blending some harder materials, but they can also scratch saucepans and bowls. If you do a lot of blending on a stove in enameled cast iron (such as le Cruset), stay away from metal as it will impart some stratches or marks.
Plastic blades, on the other hand, can melt if used over high heat, so when youíre using plastic blades, you must remove a pot from the heat before blending. Consider how youíll most often be using your hand mixer, in what sort of substances and whether youíll want to use it while cooking in order to determine whether plastic or metal blades are the right fit for you. Whether youíre shopping for plastic or stainless-steel blades, look for removable blades for easy cleaning.
Some hand mixers actually come with bowls or jars to use with the mixer. Choose models with containers that are deep with rounded edges. If youíll mostly be doing shallow mixing or want to mix directly in the pot while cooking, you may be best served by an immersion blender in addition to a hand blender.
HAND BLENDER PRICE AND BUDGET
Price tends to be dictated by capacity, speed and power. The more powerful the blender is the more expensive it becomes. More powerful blenders can crush ice easily, but cheaper models will struggle. They also have a choice of speeds for pureeing baby food or soups for example, but some have a built-in sensor that will automatically adjust to the correct speed for the task required.