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blender vs. small food processor?

c
charmoula May 22, 2007 07:28 AM

I need to switch around my kitchen arrangements. I have an older Braun food processor that I use about 1x/week - mostly for mixing hummous, making quick pizza dough (my 5 year old is mostly in charge of this, we use this method because she likes it), and shredding carrots.

I have a blender that I dislike and which I use nearly every day, mostly to mix smoothies for me and my kids.

I don't know whether I dislike my blender because I dislike this particular blender, or whether I dislike blenders in general. What I don't like about it is the difficulty of getting everything out of it. I have to reach way in with a spatula to scrape it out and I find myself irritated at how much I miss. It seems to me that if I had a small food processor with flat sides and a wide base, I could get everything out from it and end my irritation! (Plus it isn't a very good blender, but I know that is fixable by getting a different blender. But I'm wondering whether I want a blender at all.)

Here's my question: would a small food processor do the trick for me in terms of making smoothies and doing the light prep work that I would ask of it?

I want something small-ish so I can leave it out on my countertop. And I want something really good looking (a chrome or SS base).

Thoughts? recommendations? Thank you!!!

  1. eLizard May 23, 2007 05:59 PM

    i'm not sure anyone has mentioned it, but what about a cuisinart and an immersion blender? it might just do the trick for making individual smoothies (unless that's not time efficient for you). disclaimer: i don't have an immersion blender, but i'm thinking about getting one since i hate my blender and love my cuisinart, but liquids and cuisinarts are not easy bedfellows.

    4 Replies
    1. re: eLizard
      n
      niki rothman May 23, 2007 06:23 PM

      If the O.P processes the solid/fruity ingredients first in a big ole Cuisinart with the metal blade, and THEN slowly pours in the liquid through the feed tube, it's all good.

      1. re: niki rothman
        c
        charmoula May 24, 2007 11:45 AM

        Well, after a visit to a local cookware store and some thinking I think I might get:

        an immersion blender (I have had two over the years and just not replaced the last one when it broke. The only thing I don't like about immersion blenders is that I find them awkward to store)

        the grater attachment for my stand mixer - given the small amount of use my current food processor does, I think this would be a good solution (because it works with something I already have and use frequently; because it will be easy to store)

        a new kickass blender. I think the KitchenAids look good. I like the wide jars. I want something that looks good too, and I think these fit the bill.

        1. re: charmoula
          n
          niki rothman May 24, 2007 11:48 AM

          You remind me that I had a brainwave the other day about getting a $49 meat grinder attachment for my Kitchenaid. I read an excellent article in the NY Times the other day about making burgers and they said grinding your own meat is the way to go.

          All in all though, I get the definite inpression that all along what you really wanted was that kickass blender!

          1. re: niki rothman
            c
            charmoula May 29, 2007 07:09 PM

            Well! as luck would have it, I scored a newish KitchenAid blender (the Ultra Power 5-speed one) on Craigslist today for....$25! woot. I haven't yet had a chance to blend with it but tomorrow's breakfast smoothie should be good!!

    2. b
      brendastarlet May 23, 2007 11:24 AM

      You would benefit from a good blender. I have the Kitchenaid KS85 which I got from Amazon -- mine is white but it is availbale in a chrome base. Love it, love it, love it. I've made muffins and brownies with it, and numerous other sauces, etc. Plus smoothies, of course. Cleaning is a snap because the bottom unscrews and you can take off the base and the blade, and simply rinse out the glass jar.

      1. n
        niki rothman May 23, 2007 08:10 AM

        How about making the smoothies in the big food processor using the metal blade? It will liquify the fruit best if you do that BEFORE you add the liquid then process some more with a towel over the feed tube. But I'm sure it will make a perfect smoothie and is so easy to clean.

        5 Replies
        1. re: niki rothman
          ccbweb May 23, 2007 08:38 AM

          A food processor is easy to clean? Its funny how we all have different perspectives...the food processor is the thing in my kitchen I least like having to clean. It doesn't go nicely in the dishwasher, the blade is dangerous and awkward and the pieces all have weird nooks and crannies in them.

          1. re: ccbweb
            n
            niki rothman May 23, 2007 10:33 AM

            Unless there is fat in the food I'm processing the parts get a QUICK rinse and air dry on the counter until I slap them back on the base. If oily they get a hot rinse with a scrubby and sit in the DW until it's full.

            You know what - you're saying the parts are awkward and the blade sharp makes me strongly suspect you don't use your processor often. It's like driving a car, also possibly dangerous, no? But if you are using the processor, or any sharp object like a chef's knife almost daily for years, you could wash it and re-assemble it with your eyes closed in a few seconds.

            When I first started cooking with my beloved Cuisinart I cut up and ruined a rubber spatula attempting to scrape it without first removing the blade! Now I would never make that mistake. When i first started cooking I would marvel at Julia Child whipping through something like a carrot with a huge chef's knife at warp speed while I could not imagine my clumsy hands and brain being that "zen" coordinated. Now that is exactly how I slice - really, really fast, with the big sharp knife right up against my knuckles. And I am the same way with the food processor. Sure, I COULD slice a pound of carrots and a pound of celery and a pound of onions to make a big pot of soup but why bother when I can whip it ALL through the Cuisinart in about 30 seconds, and rinse the bowl and blade in about ten. Seconds. Time me.

            1. re: niki rothman
              ccbweb May 23, 2007 11:09 AM

              I have used the food processor quite a lot over the years. Less so now since I have an appliance I prefer. And I'm extremely comfortable in the kicthen and with sharp, hot, heavy and awkward things. (Pro chef/cook for about 15 years now.) And in all of my time using my food processor, I find that the pieces don't fit well in the dishwasher, the blade is awkward to clean and the nooks and crannies of the pieces of the processor tend to be tough to get clean. I suppose just rinsing it and leaving it at that is one way to go, just not one I'm comfortable with.

              1. re: ccbweb
                n
                niki rothman May 23, 2007 11:18 AM

                Ironically, I guarantee, if you started actually looking for recipes that the food processor does so well, such as dough, your big chopping jobs, and just use it, use it, use it, and practice whipping it together and apart A LOT, you will come to love it. Another thing is that a lot of people make comments like, "I hate to lug that heavy thing down from the cupboard" or across the room, or whatever, not RIGHT where you chop and no more than arms length from the sink. The fact that I am standing inside a 90 degree angle on one end of which is the sink and at the othet the processor - perhaps 3 feet away - this makes all the diffrerance. It actually sits ON the DW. Maybe you have a habit of wanting to be economical by only operating the DW when really full, because there is no way I have any problem getting my full sized processor bowl and blade comfortably into my modest DW - never even entered my mind it was a problem. Another thing that makes cleaning the Cuisinart very quickly and easily simple is having a high-pressure aerated faucet. But, the closeness to the sink and DW and the frequency of use leading to ease and comfort of use is key.

                1. re: niki rothman
                  j
                  jzerocsk May 24, 2007 07:28 AM

                  I don't know if I'd say it's "hard" to clean, but 9 times out of 10 I end up thinking to myself "This chopping might go faster in the food processor."

                  And then I remember that using the processor means washing a lid, a bowl, a blade and wiping down a base. If I skip the processor I only have to wash a knife and a board.

                  About the only time I use the processor is if I need something really well-ground like hummus or tapenade.

        2. r
          rubinow May 22, 2007 10:54 AM

          For what it's worth:

          I used to have one of those Cuisinart blender/food processor combos and it is the WORST product out there. The blender was just so-so, but the food processor was worthless. It was so small that it just could not handle anything.

          So, I would advise against small food processors.

          5 Replies
          1. re: rubinow
            c
            charmoula May 22, 2007 11:21 AM

            Huh. Thanks for all the replies! I think maybe I should get a kick-ass blender. Off to peruse cookware sites...and check the boards.

            1. re: charmoula
              r
              renov8r May 22, 2007 12:01 PM

              I have an "ass whooping" blender -- BlendTec, the ones that they use at Starbuck and other commercial establishments -- makes smoothies, coffee drinks, bar drinks, mounds of snowflake fine crushed ice, would not face summer without it, despite its "jet engine whine". I also have a Cuisinart 14 cup food processor, that frankly I could live without, but when making a lot of food is a time saver. Finally I have a little bitty processor/chopper. It does an ok job of making small amounts of wet marinade/salad dressings, but I would never think of using it for anything that actually had to be smooth...

              1. re: renov8r
                fini May 22, 2007 06:05 PM

                I'll second the Blend-Tec recommendation. If you can afford it, it's the beast! It does some cool stuff during it's mixing process like speeding and slowing in fast alternation to make sure all the stuff has had a chance to get hacked to bits.

                If you want a demo, head over to an older Jamba Juice or $tarbux.

                1. re: fini
                  c
                  CrazyOne May 23, 2007 01:34 PM

                  Or http://www.willitblend.com/

                  You gotta watch some of these, even if you can't afford the Blend-Tec! I mean, you've always wanted to see what a blender would do to your iPod, right? ;-)

              2. re: charmoula
                ccbweb May 22, 2007 05:17 PM

                Sounds to me like you might want to consider something like this:
                http://www.amazon.com/Braun-MR5550MBC...

                Trying to make smoothies or anything fairly liquidy in a food process is a losing proposition, they're just not designed to handle those kinds of things...too many holes and too shallow to allow for liquids to move up the work bowl without spilling out of some place.

                And blenders aren't really well designed to handle things like hummus. If you are set on getting one or the other, go for the best blender you can find.

                But, as I noted above, it sounds like an immersion blender with various attachments might be the best way to go. I use the larger, blender type attachment to make smoothies or cold soups on a regular basis.

                I got one that came as a set with the smaller chopping attachment which is perfect for salad dressings, small amounts of salsas and small amounts of mayonaise.

                Ultimately, I find the whole thing very useful and our blender never gets used anymore and the food processor lives under the counter save for perhaps 1 time a month for some reason. Good luck!

            2. scubadoo97 May 22, 2007 09:53 AM

              I've used my food processor to grind up frozen fruit to make smoothies. I have a KA with the smaller bowl insert and blade. This smaller bowl doesn't do as good of a job as the full size bowl and larger blade. I have a KA blender that I stopped using. One of the worst blenders I've ever used. The design of the pitcher is such that you get a lot of chunks that don't get blended. I do use my blenders for things like salsas. I like being able to pour the contents out.

              2 Replies
              1. re: scubadoo97
                m
                mojoeater May 22, 2007 10:06 AM

                On the other hand, I'm pretty sure a good blender will do most things a small food processor will do. I've made pesto and hummus in mine.

                1. re: mojoeater
                  scubadoo97 May 22, 2007 10:49 AM

                  My mom use to make hummus in a blender years ago. I use my blender all the time for pesto. One difference is that in the blender, when blending larger amounts, it takes some pushing and shaking to get the food to start blending but once it does the vortex nature of the blender really gets it going and blends to a smooth consistency.

              2. fini May 22, 2007 09:51 AM

                I'm not sure I would toss the blender. While the food processor will make short work of soft fruits and such for your smoothie, it will have a harder time with ice. I'm not sure what ice will do to blades, but it can't be good.

                The other thing to consider is how well the food processor will deal with a lot of liquid. I have an 11-cup KitchenAid and once you get it half full of liquidy stuff, it wants to make a big mess. You don't get that grief with a blender.

                I'm for tossing the blender you don't like, and picking up one that you do. I recently purchased a Bosch MMB1000 Blender for about $50 on Amazon, or was is eBay. Don't recall exactly. At any rate it's got lots of power and a big glass mixing container.

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