Understanding blender terminology can be difficult for many people. Websites such as this one are often filled with technical words which people simply do not use in everyday language. As I wrote each of the blender reviews on this website, I tried very hard to include at least a partial description of each of those terms to help you understand exactly what it was I talking about. In case there were some points I missed, or if you would simply like an overview of these terms, I have included brief definitions and descriptions for you here.
So what exactly is blending? Is it simply the act of mixing things together? People can get confused about this term, even though it is one that you may hear more often than many of the others on this list. The blending process can break down multiple ingredients and mix them together together or it can break down one ingredient. In either case, blades are used to take a food from a solid form and transform it into a paste or liquid form by cutting it into unimaginably tiny pieces and allowing its inner juices to flow free.
As a final product of blending, a puree is usually smooth or creamy. It is the result of slicing and dicing foods to the point where they nearly liquefy. Essentially, a puree is something which has the consistency of baby food or hummus.
To liquefy food is to literally turn it from a solid to a liquid. Blenders will vary in their ability to liquefy certain foods. You will want a strong blender with sharp blades and a powerful motor if you plan to liquefy tough, dense foods. Of course, the more liquid a food contains the easier it will be to liquefy. Also, adding fluids to the process when liquefying tough foods, such as carrots, will help you achieve a result which is more like a liquid and less like a puree.
Chopping with a blender is much different than chopping with a knife, but the end product should be the same. To chop is to turn large chunks of food into smaller chunks of food. Although many people discount this function, blenders which are capable of chopping can be quite helpful in creating many dishes. Chopping is essential to creating a chunky salsa or pasta sauce, for example. If you would like a blender which is capable of chopping you will want to search for one which features a low speed setting and/or pulse control.
Some people have only worked with very basic blenders and do not know what pulse control is – they are only familiar with speed settings. Unlike a speed setting, pulse allows you much more control. By pressing and releasing the pulse button you can initiate and halt the spinning of the blades or simply add an extra boost to the speed setting you have already selected. By using only the pulse option you are able to blend your ingredients in stages, checking on their consistency along the way. Adding an extra boost to the regular blending speed will help you force some of the tougher foods through the blades, speeding up the process and lowering the chances of having to scrape chunks off the sides of the pitcher.
When you hear the word wattage in reference to a blender you can be certain that the person is referring to the power of the motor. Opinions will vary about whether or not wattage is important. It is my opinion that it is quite important. Through my research, I have found strong connections between the wattage of motors and the performance of blenders. In fact, I have devoted an entire page of this website specifically to explaining how motor wattage impacts the performance of all types of blenders.
This term usually refers to the plastic or metal which surrounds the motor and all the internal mechanical parts of a blender. Some people are misled by the way certain websites and companies describe blender housings and come to think that they are actually discussing the blending pitcher. It is important to know the difference, since both are often made of different types or qualities of material. Getting confused on this point may lead to disappointment when you actually receive your blender and realize that it is not what you expected.
Although I have an entire section devoted solely to immersion blenders and have even included a brief description of immersion blenders on the homepage, I want to quickly take a moment to explain this term again. An immersion blender, often called a hand blender or handheld blender, almost looks like a stick. On one end of the stick is the handle, which also houses the motor. On the other end of the stick is the actual blending tool, which you place inside a bowl, beaker, or pot to blend ingredients.
In essence, processing is literally putting something through a process. In this literal sense of the term, blending, pureeing, and liquefying can all be considered processes. In the world of kitchen gadgetry, however, the term processing is usually used to refer to slicing, grating, and shredding. Food processors perform these tasks, and sometimes more. Why is this important as you research blenders? Some blenders also allow you to process food. Basically, these are hybrid combinations of blenders and food processors.
Now that you know what blending, pureeing, liquefying, and processing mean, you may be asking yourself how mixing works into things. Again, it is a common misconception that blenders mix things when, in fact, they blend things. In order to mix two things together without blending them you need to ensure that you do not break down those ingredients too far by using sharp blades to chop them into tiny bits. Blenders with mixing abilities often include softer plastic blades and dough hooks which allow you to mix ingredients together much like you would with a spatula or wooden spoon.
A double-bladed rod is a type of blending instrument often used in hybrid blenders, chopping cups, and many Ninja products. A double-bladed (and sometime tri-bladed or four-bladed) rod is a tall piece of plastic which reaches from the bottom of a blender to the top. It pokes through a special hole in the blender’s lid so that the power supply can grab onto it and make it spin. Instead of the blades being at the very bottom of the blender, they are placed somewhere near the middle of this rod and stick outward instead of upward.
As you may have guessed from the above description of double-bladed rods, the term “bottom-bladed” is used to refer to a blender which had its blades located at the bottom of the blender. These blades are much shorter than those on a bladed rod and stick upward instead of outward. Their spinning action is what creates a vortex of air (somewhat like a mini-tornado) in the center of the blender, which pulls ingredients down toward them.
A wand is a part of an immersion blender. There is nothing really magical about this type of wand. It is simply the handle of the immersion blender which also houses its motor and many other mechanical parts.
You already know that a wand is the handle of an immersion blender. The other major part of this type of blender is the part which contains the spinning blades – this part is referred to as a blending arm. Most often, this term will come up when people try to describe the length of the immersion blender. Since the length of the wand really isn’t very important, people often focus on the length of the blending arm so that they can determine whether it is long enough to reach into specific pots and bowls.
A chopping cup is a special attachment included with many immersion blenders. It is a small cup with a bladed rod running up its center. On top of the cup is a lid with a small opening for the rod’s tip to poke through. By removing the blending arm or whisking attachment, you can secure the immersion blender’s wand atop the rod and use it as a miniature countertop blender. It is important to remember that immersion blenders with chopping cups are often much less powerful than typical countertop blenders.