Choosing a Blender

This weekend one of our lovely readers over at AT: Your Life asked for blender recommendations. Just in case anyone else is in the market, here are some things to consider when buying a blender.

Motor:
Look for a motor with 350 or more watts.  In general, the more watts, the more power.

Carafe:
I prefer glass. It is heavier, so it is less likely to tip when full. You can see through it, so you’ll know if things are blended without stopping to take the lid off. It is non-reactive and non-toxic, so you don’t need to worry about chemicals leaching into your food, especially when you are blending something hot.  My second choice would be stainless steel, and my last choice plastic.
The shape of the carafe makes a difference. Ones that have a clover-leaf shape and are tapered will create a better vortex, helping to get all the food blended evenly. Round carafes tend to blend the food at the bottom, and you have to work to get the food at the top to mix in.
I prefer a single piece carafe for ease of cleaning. I know it doesn’t take that long to unscrew the base and wash the pieces, but I am lazy when it comes to cleaning. I have also had problems with blenders leaking if they are not put back together just right, or if the rubber ring is getting old. That’s annoying.

Controls:
Don’t be tricked into thinking more blending settings means better blending. My blender has three choices: off, low, and high. That is all I have ever needed. Pulse is a nice extra, but anything else is usually just marketing.
As for the actual switches, push buttons are impossible to clean. Two year old chocolate smoothie crud mixed with your signature salad dressing anyone? Yum!  Touch pads are great, but I have heard reports of them wearing out with age. Toggles and dials seem to be the best choices.

Noise:
In general, the more powerful the motor, the louder it will be.  Accept this, invest in some earplugs if needed, and move on.

As for specific blenders we recommend?

If you feel the urge to splurge on a blender, Vita Mix and Blendtec both make great blenders. If you are serious about blending, grinding, and grating these might be the blenders for you. They will juice carrots, make a mean green smoothie, grind wheat, and even cook soup. They will also cost you.  People who have a Vita Mix or Blendtec are passionate about them.  People who don’t often have trouble understanding why they should spend so much on a blender unless they are a raw foodist or opening a restaurant.

Personally, I have had a Waring Pro for the past ten years and I love it. A few months ago I thought the motor was going to burn out so I looked into other blenders and decided that if I need another, I would get another Waring. It works great, is super easy to clean, and it looks good sitting on my counter. The motor hasn’t burned out; turned out the problem was my berries were all freezing together in a big clump when I poured cold orange juice on them and the blender didn’t like that. A bit of pounding with a wooden spoon (while the blender was off) solved the problem.

Annabelle has had a Kitchen Aid for four years and she loves it.

Apparently, if you can get your hands on an old Oster blender you are super lucky. The new Osters have mixed reviews though.

Do you have a favorite (or not so favorite) blender?  Share with us in the comment section or on the AT: Your Life facebook page.

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