How to Choose the Right Blender for Your Establishment
How to Choose the Right Blender for Your Establishment
No matter what sort of food or drink establishment you run, there are plenty of must-have items for your kitchen - and a great blender is going to be high on the list. A blender is a highly multi-purpose item that you could potentially use for preparing both foods and drinks, from pâté to smoothies.
However, there are a lot of different types of blenders on the market, and not all are going to be suited to the same applications. In this guide, we'll go over the most common types of blenders seen in restaurants, their benefits and specialties, as well as the selection, care, and cleaning of the blender bowl.
4 Common Types of Blenders
1 - Food blenders
The all-purpose food blender is probably the most commonly seen, both in homes and in various food and bar service establishments. Food blenders are large and powerful, capable of creating thick drinks like smoothies or milkshakes with ease but can also handle chopping or blending of food as well. Particularly powerful models can blend almost anything, even hard foods such as block chocolate. (Although this will be rough on the blades in any case.)
The key here is to focus on capacity and power. How much do you need to fulfill your customers' needs? There's almost no limit to how large or powerful a food blender can be, so it can be easy to over-spend.
2 - Brushless blenders
Brushless blenders are a type of food blender, and a popular one due to their unusual construction. They utilize advanced brushless motors, which are more energy-efficient and less prone to break down over time while delivering more power than a comparable brush motor blender.
These are not cheap blenders, but their high reliability makes them an excellent choice for particularly busy kitchens. If you need a blender that can stand up to all-day use, think about going brushless.
3 - Bar blenders
Bar blenders are typically a bit smaller than food blenders and designed specifically for the fast creation of drinks. Their motors are tuned for fast mixing of soft materials, rather than chewing through hard materials. With a good bar blender, you can quickly whip up just about any mixed drink, including iced/blended drinks like margaritas.
Some particularly powerful models may even be able to handle some smoothies, like fruit smoothies, but that's where bar blenders top out. If you're planning on making food, you want a more powerful option. However, if you just need an inexpensive way to mix drinks, a bar blender is a great choice.
4 - Immersion blenders
Notable for their wand-shaped design, immersion blenders take a different approach to blending. Rather than a stand-up vessel with a motor and blades underneath, immersion blenders are handheld. They feature a long shaft terminating in a motor and blade assembly which can be inserted into almost any liquid-holding container. This is the main draw of immersion blenders, and they're particularly useful for blending soups and other soft or liquid foods that can't or shouldn't go into a standard blender jar.
Some immersion blenders even have swappable heads, which add to their versatility. Being able to swap between standard blending and a whisk, for example, adds a lot of value to the purchase! However, immersion blenders tend to be weak compared to full-size models, and definitely can't be used for any heavy-duty chopping or mashing.
II. What controls should your blender use?
Another major consideration when selecting a blender is the type of control panel it utilizes. There are three basic options here which are common to stand-up blenders. Largely, this boils down to being a matter of price vs. performance.
The most basic blender controls are mechanical, utilizing switches and dials. Your control options are usually quite simple, just a couple of speed settings, an onoff toggle, and possibly a manual pulse button. These are adequate if you have little call for your blender and just want a cheap option, but most professional operations will want something better.
The most common and popular option, push-button electronic control panels give you a lot of fine-tuned control over your blender. You'll have plenty of speed options, possibly even a dial for precise power setting. These usually integrate a timer function as well, although no other automation. For most situations, this is the best balance of price vs. performance.
The most powerful - and most expensive - blenders are fully-computerized and programmable, capable of carrying out complicated multi-speed jobs. They're useful in situations where you have high volumes of the same few items being made over and over. However, the high price means this may be overkill unless you truly need to add automation to your blending.
III. Major considerations in buying blender jars
Chances are, any blender you buy will come with its own blender jar. However, that's not necessarily the one you want to use. Blender jars are semi-standardized, and it's relatively easy to pick out alternative jars with the features you want. It's often useful to have multiple jars as well, such as one for food and one for drinks.
So, you have plenty of options in finding the perfect match for your establishment.
• Capacity: Probably the most important factor is simply the size of the jar. A typical small countertop model will hold around 32-44 oz., but the capacity can go up drastically when looking at commercial-sized units. Sizes of 128 oz. or even larger are available if needed.
• Material: Aside from old-fashioned glass (which is too prone to breaking) there are three basic options here. Stainless steel is durable and easy to clean but lacks the transparency of other options. Copolyester is a great choice if you're planning on making hot or acidic foodsdrinks, as it has the best chemical resistance. Or, go with Polycarbonate if your priority is having an indestructible jar - but it can't handle hot foods.
• Stackability: Are you planning on having several jars or blenders in use at once? Choosing stackable jars will significantly reduce their storage footprint.
• Markings: Any decent blender jar will have measurements along the side, making it easy to fill to a certain level. They may have Imperial, metric, or both types of measurements, though, so be sure you pick a jar that matches your in-kitchen measurement preferences.
IV. The benefits of a sound enclosure
Along with the blender itself, it's important to highlight a vital accessory: the sound enclosure. Blenders are loud devices and will add a lot of noise to the environment. This is something you want to avoid. Loud noise in the kitchen will interfere with your staff's work, and loud noise in the front of the house harms your customers' experience.
Fortunately, sound enclosures are cheap and effective. They add an extra layer of muffling and can significantly reduce the noise made by a blender. Some professional-level models even come with a sound enclosure built-in.
Either way, never run a blender without sound dampening, if you can avoid it.
V. Cleaning your blender and jar
Blenders are deliberately designed to be as easy-to-clean as possible, so there's very little trick to it. The jars should be able to fit into a standard dishwasher without a problem, eliminating the need for hand-washing aside from exceptional circumstances. The blender base itself will almost always be water-tight and can be cleaned simply by wiping it down with a sponge or dishcloth.
Remember to clean the underside, though.
It's easy for particles of food or drink to end up on the bottom or stuck to the feet.
Also, watch for:
• Jar pads: Some blenders include a jar pad that's specifically there to catch drips and other minor accidents before they hit the counter. Be sure to clean this pad often.
• Blade assemblies: Most models of blender have removable blade assemblies, a feature you will want to take advantage of. The blade mechanism needs to be thoroughly cleaned, either in a machine or by hand, to remain sanitary.
• Removable shaft: Immersion-style blenders usually have a removable blade shaft, which is machine-washable. Always remove this shaft; trying to clean it in place risks water leaking into the motor.
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