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Need help understanding stick blenders--and which to buy

Thanks4Food May 11, 2013 03:07 PM

Way back when I first learned about stick blenders--probably watching Alton Brown--I bought an inexpensive KitchenAid one. The first time I tried to puree carrot soup in my mother's old soup pot, it etched circles into the bottom of it--broke my heart. Returned it and bought a Braun multiquick 200watt blender that had a plastic base that keeps the metal blades from touching the bottom of the pot.

I've been relatively happy with it--except for the awkwardness of the cord that gets in everything. Oh, and the occasional splatter all over the place when I didn't have the blades covered sufficiently by whatever I was trying to blend.

Today it up and died on me in the middle of making a dessert. Motor got all hot and just stopped dead.

So now I have to get a new one and I"m back to wondering--how do people use those that don't have any kind of guard keeping them from doing what the KitchenAid did to my pot? Do you not let them touch the bottom of the pot? I have arthritis and not enough arm strength to keep the blender above the pot while pureeing a soup--and then there's the problem of splattering all over if the blade isn't low enough.

I had thought long ago about getting the Bamix one I saw Alton Brown using, but again, I just couldn't figure out how you use it without scratching. I'm now looking at the Breville BSB510XL because of the non-scratch guard at the bottom.

Any enlightenment would be greatly appreciated!

  1. tim irvine May 11, 2013 04:26 PM

    I have a relatively new Bamix and no pot scratching issues. I love it. It does have a cord, but it hasn't been an issue. My vintage 1949 wrists and fingers are arthritic, and I find the grip very comfortable and the controls very easy. It has done everything I have asked it to do pretty much perfectly, even making a cup of mayonnaise in the jar in about five seconds, maybe less.

    1. paulj May 11, 2013 10:32 PM

      I have two models, a Braun (my second) and Cuisinart. Both have enclosed blades, one plastic, the other metal. I've never had problems with pot scratching.

      I'm puzzled about your scratching. From what I can see of Bamix, the guard is more open, but still it should keep the blades from contacting the pan.

      I think ATK preferred an enclosure that had holes as close to bottom. Higher, smaller holes can clog. I get a bit of clogging with the Cuisinart, especially if the food is fibrous. But I just clean it off and keep working.

      5 Replies
      1. re: paulj
        splatgirl May 14, 2013 12:46 PM

        + 1 on the scratching issue. They all have a guard. Your pot probably got scratched from allowing the guard to touch/vibrate/rest on the bottom of the pot while using, not from the blades themselves.

        1. re: splatgirl
          paulj May 14, 2013 02:37 PM

          Sometimes there's enough suction to pull the guard down to the bottom. In such a case I tilt the blender a bit to break that suction.

          If the food is chunky I use a repeated plunge motion. When it is more liquid and smooth I try to angle the head in such a way as to produce a whirlpool that brings food to the heat. It's only in an intermediate stage that I move the head around in the pot very much. And even then I try not drag it.

          1. re: splatgirl
            Thanks4Food May 18, 2013 10:44 AM

            That's part of my question: are you not supposed to let even the guard touch the bottom of your pan? Because of the suction, I don't think I have enough arm strength to keep it elevated the entire time. The first one I tried had a metal guard and I've got all these little circles etched in the bottom of my pot. The Braun I got afterwards has a plastic guard that hasn't made any scratches. The description of the Breville I'm interested in has a rubber bottom so it won't scratch AND it says something about the way the holes are it won't create suction.

            1. re: Thanks4Food
              paulj May 18, 2013 12:02 PM

              'little circles' - scratches produced by the guard as you moved it around the bottom?

              If there is a strong suction, I don't try to move the head. I tilt it a bit to break the suction, and then move it around.

              I have Cuisinart Smartstick with metal case (as well as plastic Braun). I prefer to use the Cuisinart when pureeing soup, and usually do that in a stainless steel pan. I have not noticed any scratching from that use.

              1. re: Thanks4Food
                splatgirl May 18, 2013 10:17 PM

                I have a kitchen aid one with a metal end/guard. I use it in my ss pots all the time and have never noticed any scratching. I do as others have said and just tilt it to break the suction. The end is in contact with the bottom of the pot to some extent every time it is used.
                You said the pot that got scratched was vintage. Is it aluminum? That would scratch a lot easier than stainless.

                Personally I am not a fan of the plastic ended ones for both plastic+food concerns and that they seem to stain and/or be less durable overall, but I only have experience with the cheapies.

          2. BIGGUNDOCTOR May 14, 2013 05:48 PM

            I picked up 3 Brauns from the thrift stores for $4-$5 each

            single speed
            2 speed
            and a variable speed

            They have worked fine for me

            1. tcamp May 18, 2013 05:32 PM

              I have a Williams Sonoma brand stick blender - it is probably 12 years old. Mine has a cord, which is fine with me, and it has metal prongs that serve as a guard to protect the pot. I use the blender in stainless steel or cast iron so the fact that the prongs are uncoated metal is not an issue. If I used it in non-stick or enameled pans, that might be a problem.

              2 Replies
              1. re: tcamp
                SWISSAIRE May 18, 2013 11:05 PM

                We have a Braun since we were married which is ( Ahem ) -- must be 1000 years old. It continues to work just as it did when we bought it.

                The usual scenario is repeated every 6 months:
                Wife: " Is this still working ? Should I throw it out ? "
                Husband: " Yes, it works. " followed by demonstration.
                Wife, that afternoon: " Guess what ? I'm making (select one answer - sauce, soup, puree, etc) using the Braun blender. "
                Husband: " Ah, I see. "

                Cleaned, coiled, and wrapped away, the Braun sleeps away in the cabinet for a few months, until it is found again.

                I saw one in Lisbon being used to make a large pot of caldo overheat, and then die. Small motor + big job = burnout.

                1. re: SWISSAIRE
                  paulj May 19, 2013 09:15 AM

                  I'm on my 2nd Braun Multimix. The first stripped its plastic gears while chopping something too hard. Unfortunately the brand is no longer distributed in the USA.

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