Buying Guide: How to Choose Blenders for Your Foodservice Establishment
Blenders are used around the commercial kitchen to create a variety of dishes and menu items. From smoothies to sauces, blenders are a great tool for spicing up your menu and improving customer satisfaction. If you’re a veteran, then you know the drill - but if you’re new to using a blender, then it’s important to note that there’s more to it than simply adding ingredients and pushing the ‘blend’ button.
Capacity refers to the volume of liquid that a blender cavity can hold at once. Opt for larger volumes if you plan to serve up large batches, but save yourself space if you know you’ll only need a blender that holds one serving or two at a time. If your menu boasts a 20 oz margarita, then make sure to opt for at least one size larger blender (a 48 oz blender perhaps) so that you have the ability to blend two servings at once.
Cups: blender containers usually come in glass, plastic, or stainless steel. It’s mostly based on preference, but keep in mind the design and aesthetics of your bar when choosing the material, as a stainless steel cup may work well with a modern restaurant, but a glass cup will look nice for finer establishments as well. Keep in mind that if you crush ice on a regular occasion, then plastic cups will scratch and scuff quicker. Thus, you should opt for a glass cup instead.
Bases: blender bases can be comprised of chrome, stainless steel, or plastic. Chrome is attractive but requires attention to detail, as they scuff and show smudges easily. Brushed stainless steel is easier to maintain but can rust over time. Plastic is the easiest to maintain but sacrifices the professional look that both chrome and stainless steel can have.
- Easy to clean
- Attractive for fine dining establishments
- Won’t retain flavors/odors
- Tend to be heavier and more stable
- Less durable than counterparts in regards to bumping or accidental drops
- Better for cost-conscious restaurants
- Easy to maintain
- Can withstand minor scratching/abrasions
- Will show scratches and scuffs more prominently over time
- Can “yellow” in a dishwasher with certain chemicals
- More porous - can retain flavors/odors
- Attractive for modern restaurant decor
- Will show smudges easily
- Limits visibility of food as it’s blended
Chrome (for bases)
- Attractive for modern restaurant decor
- Higher price tag
- Will show smudges
The most important way to tell how much power a commercial bar blender has is by its wattage or horsepower (HP), although HP is more common and simpler to identify. Blender motor wattage typically ranges from about 300 to 1,500 watts. For comparison, one unit of HP is equal to over 745 watts, according to U.S. units of measure.
If you’re blending tougher or more solid ingredients, then be sure to opt for higher HP units to handle the job. Blenders have a wide range of possible HP specifications, from 3/8 to 3 ¾ HP.
Speed options can range anywhere from a standard 2-3 settings (low, medium, high) to well over 20 settings! The amount of speed settings you’ll need will largely depend on what you plan to blend. Here are a few speed settings to look for:
- Pulse: this setting is arguably one of the most essential, as it can help get your blended consistency just right. Thus, opt for a pulse setting plus your regular speed settings at a minimum. The pulse setting delivers a quick, short pulse of speed.
- Stir: the lowest speed setting is designed for little in the way of actual chopping or slicing and more ‘stirring’ action.
- Continuously Variable High Speeds: these categories encompass a wide range of speeds from puree to liquify and everything in between. It’s basically an umbrella term for all of the intermediate and high speeds above stir and can vary drastically from model to model and manufacturer to manufacturer.
These specialty blenders demand a section unto themselves, as they’re different from your standard cup/base blender in their basic design. Immersion blenders utilize small, rotating blades on the end of a shaft, with the user controlling the blades from a small remote system installed at the opposing end of that shaft. The user simply inserts the immersion blender into any container with food or liquid to blend items in their original container.
While not as versatile as countertop blenders, immersion blenders are convenient for homogenizing volumes that are too large to fit in the bowl of a stationary blender or, as in the case of soups, are too hot to be safely poured into the bowl.
There are many working parts to a blender that need regular cleaning and maintenance - some of the main ones being the blades and the seals. When looking for your blender, choose one that is easy to break down and clean, as you’ll have to do it often to ensure a safe, compliant environment. With so many parts, grime can build up in almost any part of the blender.
Touchpad buttons tend to be easier to wipe clean than traditional push-down buttons, making them a must-have for anyone wanting to ensure an easy cleanup. Fortunately, this feature is in such high demand for commercial use that most commercial-grade blenders will have touchpad button features as opposed to push-style buttons.
Stick with a detachable bottom, and throw all washer-safe pieces like the lids, containers, and parts into the dishwasher every day. The addition of a blender container rinser can also improve workflow, as employees can quickly rinse blender cups without having to use the entirety of a sink for every new batch. You can keep blades sharpened and replace them as needed to ensure that your blender is operating at peak performance and efficiency. Note that some blades are designed to crush ice and do not have sharp blades. In fact, these flat blade models seem to do a pretty good job on a variety of food products too without concern for sharpening.