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What is a Hand Blender?
Also called Immersion Blender or Stick Blender:
You may have heard about hand, immersion, stick, or wand blenders before and wondered what they are or what they are used for. Before a couple years ago, I had never seen a hand blender before. The first time I had was on a cooking show - and I decided I wanted one. Rather than having to move all the ingredients to a blender, the stick blender allows you to blend all the ingredients in the container they are being prepared in! This is especially useful in situations that something is too big for the blender or too hot such as soups.
Here I will go into usage of a wand blender, maintenance, a few models, and of course a few good recipes.
What Use is a Hand Blender?
If I were a Hand Blender salesman, I think I could get you to buy one just because of sheer usefulness. There are a super amount of things hand blenders can do for you to make your life easier, and I'll list a few here.
- Soup: I know I mentioned it before, but soup. There are many ways to blend a creamy soup: having a large enough blender and fearfully pouring the hot soup in, having a small blender and slowly putting portions into it and removing them to a bowl, or letting it completely cool to be safe - however this is all either dangerous or time consuming. With a stick blender, you just blend in the pot you are cooking in and get the same blend you would without the hassle.
- Sauces: In the same boat as soup, you can easily blend ingredients that you have cooked down for a thicker sauce, or even beat out lumps that formed in thinner sauces without the fear of getting burnt.
- Mashed Potatoes: Talking about beating out lumps, the hand blender is great at smoothing out potatoes.
- Salad Dressings and Mayo: Not only can it make salad dressings but it can help emulsify liquids. The oil comes to the top in salad dressings - with a stick blender you can beat it together for a smooth dressing. On the same note you can make delicious home made mayo that much quicker! [Recipe Below!]
- Guacamole: Speed up your guac production by using a stick blender!
- Smoothies: Throw your ingredients in a glass and go for it!
- Whipped Cream: Nothing is better than fresh whipped cream (especially with a fresh strawberry smoothie?!), but it can be tiresome. Use a stick blender for small amounts of whipped cream whenever you want it!
- Baby Food: Its pretty easy to forget things, but hard to improvise when you have. If you forget your baby food you can make some yourself! Baby Food is pretty much pureed food, so blend it down to the correct consistency and you have fresh baby food that is probably better!
But wait! There's more! - Okay, enough salesmanship. However, the hand blender is darn useful and only your imagination limits its uses.
Maintaining a Hand Blender
I've found that hand blenders are extremely easy to clean and maintain. Cleaning consists of wiping down the top part which is the place the motor is and should never be put in water, and carefully washing the blades and bottom part which easily detaches on most models. Some people claim using the blender on hot soapy water cleans it perfectly, but I have never tried. They should last a few years, and are definitely worth their price - which I will cover below!
Hand Blender Models Preface
Because they have become more and more popular to have, there are many models of hand blenders on the market today. They vary in capabilities, looks, and prices, so you should be able to find one that appeals to you. I must add Amazon links as well, because while I was looking at all the models a lot of websites and stores had them for extremely high prices compared to Amazon - for instance the Cuisinart CSB 77 there is 39$ (USD) compared to other places that have them from 90$ -110$.
Hand Blender Models
Hamilton Beach Turbo-Twister Mixing Stick 59770: Though it cant crush ice or frozen fruit well, it can puree thick soups in 90 seconds. This has low and high speeds and comes with a whisk attachment for whipped cream and mayo.
Cuisinart SmartStick Hand Blender CSB-77: If you want everything but multiple speeds, this is your hand blender. Balloon whisk, plastic beaker, chopper, instruction/recipe manual, and more! Its also extremely comfortable and easy to handle - I've tried this myself. Amazon has this for 55% off!
DeLonghi DHB723 380-Watt Tri-Blade Variable Speed Handblender: Though I haven't tried it myself it looks amazing. 5 speeds, handles frozen fruit, and has many attachments including an oversized pan blender for deep pots, a whisk, a beaker, and a chopper! The only complaints were that it was heavy (probably the motor size) and a little expensive (they must not have looked on Amazon...)
KitchenAid KHB100ER Hand Blender: AKA cautionary tale. Not all hand blenders are alike. Though the price would suggest otherwise, it seems popular to dislike this model. Many reviews suggest inconsistent blending and wonder why, unlike most models, there are no attachments.
Super Easy and Delicious Guacamole!
Preface: I used to spend about 30 minutes making Guacamole whenever I wanted it and had time. Mashing avocados and chopping vegetables would take up so much time that I didn't really have. Now it takes a few minutes.
Garlic Cloves: 2
Tomato, Chopped: 1/2
Red Onion, Chopped: 1/4 Cup
Salt: 2 Teaspoons
Extras: Cilantro, Peppers, Chili, whatever you love!
Ripe avocados are truly amazing where non ripe are hard and pretty bad. To pick out a ripe avocado make sure the avocado has a little give to it all over. A little give in one spot could be a bruise, and too much give and it is overripe and could rot quickly.
Throw all of your ingredients into a bowl and blend - more or less to depending on how thick or smooth you want it. If you want it thicker, blend the avocado alone till it is smoother before adding other ingredients. Serve with anything, because it is delicious.
Preface: To make your own mayo by hand can be long and tiresome, meaning most people never try home made mayo. This is a shame because it tastes better and you can flavor it more on your own.
Notes: Extra virgin olive oil is not recommended for blender use here. The extra small grade of particles in EVOO makes them easy to break apart, meaning the strength of blenders can make it so the mayo breaks up and/or has a bitter taste to it.
Below is a video showing just how easy it is to make your own mayo. Honestly there are so many recipes it is impossible to list them, but they all consist of egg yolk and oil being emulsified with lemon (or other acid) and salt.
You can flavor your mayo with anything. My favorite is a spicy Chipotle mayo I make by first blending up a small amount of Chipotle chili. You can also use either the blender or the whisk - the blender seems to be cleaner though.
There are countless recipes that hand blenders could be used for - as said before the uses of a hand blender are limited by your imagination. Before buying a hand blender, make sure you look up some reviews and check around on prices - especially Amazon because they usually have cheaper prices and free shipping!
I hope that you learned something and enjoy using hand blenders!