Hand mixers are great kitchen tools to have especially if you like to make homemade soups and purees. They can do everything from whisking up milk shakes to pureeing soups and crushing ice, whether in a pan on the stovetop or in a bowl on the countertop.
Things to Keep in Mind...
These are are wand-like. They look nothing like a standard counter top blender. To use this type of blender, simply insert the blade end into the liquid or solid you want to emulsify and away you go. This type of blender is great for many tasks in the kitchen, but it won't replace a blender or hand mixer. Use this blender if you are trying to make soups, blend powered drink mixes, and make milk shakes.
These are are a hybrid. They combine a food processor and counter-top blender. This type of machine is ideal in kitchens where both blending and food processing are regular occurrences. This blender would also be well-suited in kitchens that are tight on space.
*Viking makes an attachment for their stand mixer which transforms it into a blender.
The essential questions to ask when buying a blender are, what is the wattage, do I like the control pad, how many speeds does the blender have, how large is the container, are the notches easy to read on the container, is there a pulse setting, and is the blade attached?
Like stand mixers, hand mixers need at least six different speeds. The slowest is essential for adding dry ingredients without creating a dust storm. The faster speeds will aerate your egg whites before you lose interest in the idea of baked Alaska. Some hand mixers offer an ingenious “soft” or “slow start” feature in which the selected speed is gradually attained (it actually happens in seconds) and helps reduce splatter.
Minimum power should be 175 watts, but a high wattage is not the only indicator of power. The design of the beaters also contributes to its overall performance. Old-style beaters had a thick post down the center, while the best new designs feature two slender beaters of thin, curved stainless steel wire. They work better and are easier to clean.
A mixer should be sturdy and durable but light enough to be held comfortably for 5 to 10 minutes. Around 2 pounds is comfortable for most people. Handles that slant up toward the front of the mixer (as opposed to running parallel to the mixer body) are more comfortable to grip and are designed to reduce the strain on your forearm. If you are left-handed, a model with a swivel cord will make it easier to maneuver the machine.
Mixers without seams on the underside are easier to clean. The surfaces should be smooth with no ingredient-trapping cracks or crevices. Models with touch-pad controls are easy to wipe clean.
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