First conceived for soda fountain use in 1922, the humble blender has become a staple appliance in many kitchens. It does almost as many things as a food processor, and a cook should keep this in mind when choosing one.
Does the cook want a traditional blender or an immersion blender? Both have their uses. The traditional style has a glass or plastic blending container, with a set of small blades at the bottom. It sits on a platform enclosing an electric motor and speed controls.
The immersion style is hand-held. The blades are at the end of a column and are inserted into the food, to blend it in the pot. For instance, some cooks use immersion blenders in a pot of soup in order to make a smoother base.
Traditional blenders can mix drinks, make sauces or condiments such as mayonnaise, puree food and mix different kinds of soups. Add a plunger attachment, and it can be used to make smoothies. Many cooks who would never use a large food processor enough to justify the purchase price find that a traditional blender meets their needs.
When buying a blender, a cook should consider quality, power and price. Although those with a plastic blending pitcher can be purchased for about 15 US dollars (USD), the cook should go ahead and spend a little extra money for a glass pitcher. These are much more durable and are not as likely to be broken by something like ice flying around.
Power is another consideration. A blender should be powerful enough to blend drinks with ice and to puree most soft foods. A 10 to 12 speed blender is usually sufficient for most applications.
Blenders meant especially for drinks or smoothies will probably cost more than a traditional version, but if this will be its primary use, then the cook should go ahead and spend the money. A commercial-grade version will have a great deal of power.
Quality, power and price are all intertwined with blenders. A good-quality, powerful blender is going to cost more than an eight-speed model with a plastic pitcher, as will an immersion blender. These are also available wherever kitchen appliances are sold. Some cooks would not stock a kitchen without one.