We’ve all been there. Let me take you back in time (be it 10 years or last week). It’s a Tuesday, you’re in college, and you don’t have a class until 1 o’clock. You’re snoozing peacefully until you hear it. The dreaded ‘RNNGGHHH’ of your roommate’s ancient and sound defying blender. Peaceful sleep-in: over.
Having a quiet blender, or at least knowing some tricks to dampen the sound is invaluable. We’ll also take a look at overall blender function and features, so you know exactly what you’re after when you head to the department store.
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An introduction to blenders
The blender concept emerged in the early 1920’s as a way to blend milkshakes at a local stand. In the 1930’s, two gentlemen formed the still profitable Hamilton Beach Company. The design was tweaked over the next 10 years, and in 1940 the ‘smoothie’ started rising in popularity.
In the ensuing years, the blender concept made way for the invention and distribution of juicer products as well as stand mixers, which soared in popularity in particular after the second World War.
The late nineties saw a surge in production of commercial blenders that employed sound reduction technology, particularly for cafes and restaurants that blended drinks in front of the consumer. Not necessarily an ideal location for a loud motor! Frappuccinos, smoothies, milkshakes, and other such sweets and coffee products quickly found themselves as easy, on-demand products that sold well and sold quickly.
The basic blender concept is a housing/container of some sort, usually glass, blades and a universal motor. This hasn’t changed over much since its initial foray into the marketplace, but the blenders of today are decidedly smaller, sleeker, and more importantly – quieter.
How it works
I’ve always been slightly taken aback at how a blender can usually quickly puree whatever pre-work or pre-gym smoothie concoction I’ve dreamed up. It’s actually fairly simple.
Do you ever notice how in lore and in real life, a tornado will draw objects toward it? It’s a vortex, and as it gains strength and momentum will pull objects and even other weather systems into it. A blender is much the same. With a simple push of a button, the motor starts to move the blades in a circular motion.
As the blades begin to break down the ingredients, the developing liquified ingredients and air follow the circular motion of the blades and start to become a vortex of sorts, pulling in other ingredients down to the blades to be broken down as well.
As the ingredients are further broken down into liquid, air continues to circulate through the vortex, making mixing easier. Ultimately this is what results in your creamy, frothy smoothie. Thanks to a universal motor, it likely takes a blender less time to do all of that than it did for you to read this article up until this point!
When purchasing a blender, consider the amount of counter space you have. If things are cramped and your blender needs are small, consider a hand blender or personal sized blender that has housing which doubles as a cup, so you can blend and go!
Blenders: Pros and Cons
Blenders are an amazing household appliance, and most of them will really stand the test of time. They’re excellent for making soups, smoothies, sauces, and milkshakes. Even less traditional blender fare such as nut flours and butters are possible.
They’re excellent for those with digestive issues, as blended, pureed food tends to digest easily while still offering the full range of nutrients. Also excellent for those who have had facial surgery and who may not be able to macerate food yet.
Blenders are also excellent for gym goers, as a quick protein smoothie pre or post workout will tide them over until their next meal without upsetting the stomach, and will assist in the muscles repairing themselves right away as opposed to waiting. The same could be applied for someone with cramped time before work who doesn’t have time to make a full fry up (or who doesn’t want to!)
Simply put, they’re excellent for the health conscious and for those who simply enjoy an iced drink or milkshake.
Cons to owning a blender are only a few, but still there. If you have a very small kitchen area with a low amount of countertop and cupboard real estate, a large blender may not suit you. You could consider a handheld or immersion style blender stick, but this requires more time, cleanup and a compatible bowl or cup. It also doesn’t offer the same blending experience as a larger, more traditional blender would.
Another con is if you’re of a mind to pulse a soup or sauce, you may need to dice ingredients very finely to ensure they actually blend – depending on your blender. This can result in a lot of prep work which might have been avoided if you chose to make your dish another way.
Some blenders, depending on their design, can be fairly difficult to clean if not dishwasher friendly. These are usually the smaller, handheld blenders or little bullet style blenders. Consistency can also be an issue if the housing is quite a bit larger.
Last but certainly not least: noise. Noise can be a huge detractor in the purchase and use of a blender. Most traditional blenders are very loud, and this can be disruptive to those you live with. If you live alone, more power to you! Otherwise, you’ll need to blend when it’s reasonable for others.
It’s important to decide which blender is right for you and your lifestyle. If you frequently work with heavy vegetables or fruits, one or two chop settings won’t really cover it. Let’s say you live alone and live frugally, do you really need a 10 + cup blender or processor? Probably not, especially if you’ll only use it for the odd smoothie.
Immersion blenders: these don’t really have a size per se, they’re a handheld motorized stick essentially. The beauty of these is that they’ll fit almost anywhere. Crock pots, soup pots, cookware, and more. These are great for food preparation if you’re making a bigger dish, or if you want to quickly muddle up a smoothie. They normally come corded or cordless.
Single serving blenders: These are perfect for the die hard gym goer, especially if you live in a smaller apartment. These are easy to store just where they take up so little room! A bonus is that the motor size typically is not that much smaller, so you get all of the power of a traditional blender in a smaller size. Most single serve blenders have housing or containers that double as a cup, making the whole process less than 2 minutes, and you’re out the door.
Full size/traditional blenders: These are the most common on the market. These are the blenders that boast the most versatility and a much larger container than its predecessors. They come available with a very broad spectrum of settings, but most include chopping capabilities, puree, blend, pulse, and more. These are generally your one stop shop for most of your blending needs; with most ingredients going in coming out consistently blended.
Speciality benders: These are the big rigs! The blenders that can spin everything from dough to merengue. This category also has a broad range of products, and includes food processors, stand mixers, or large commercial blenders. These are typically used in a professional setting, last far longer, are made very well and aren’t often found in your traditional home.
While considering the type of blender category that your needs may fall into, consider the features as well. Here are some notable ones:
Typically most blenders are made of glass, stainless steel, or polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a really durable material, and can withstand many a beating in the dishwasher or soapy sink. Some polycarbonate materials can contain BPA, so be on the lookout for that. If it does contain BPA, you’ll want to steer clear of the microwave or mixing hot products.
Glass jar blenders can withstand high heat, the dishwasher, and the sink – but it is glass after all. Glass looks great, you can see the blended product well and it has a certain aesthetic, but beware if you’re using it in a commercial environment where slips and spills are more common.
Stainless steel is not as common for a standard blender but it definitely still is a contender. Many stand up mixers are made of stainless steel. Stainless steel is long lasting, durable, but one hardly needs reminding that it is opaque, so if you like to see the action it might not be the best option for you.
This section also depends on your needs and lifestyle. Many single serving blenders simply have a small switch or even just a set and turn function to run the motor. As you get into the traditional and larger sized blenders, you do have at least 5-10 button settings to choose from. Some are even programmable ahead of time.
Having a quiet environment is so important for many different reasons. Perhaps you work from home or you have some sensory issues, maybe you work nights and need peace during the day – or maybe you just hate aggressive noise! Which is totally fair.
Quiet blenders are designed in a way that muffles the noise straight from the motor, or, most commonly, they come equipped with a special plastic or rubber housing that muffles sound.
You might sacrifice some power if you go with a blender that muffles noise straight from the motor, usually because the motor is smaller and/or the blades less abrasive. You will, however, gain a bit of peace and quiet – so you decide what works for you.
Did you know?
One of the earliest proprietors of blenders, Fred Waring, called his creation a ‘blendor,’ and even trademarked the word. In fact, the full name of his product was the ‘Waring Blendor.’
Fred was a musician, also spent time financing a friend’s blender company before deciding to strike out on his own. So successful was his product that it actually popularized the smoothies that we know and love today. He eventually sold his company, Waring Products, to the Dynamics Corporation of America in the late 1950’s, who later sold it to Conair 41 years later, in 1998.
Handheld/Immersion: these little guys usually range from $10 to $80 at most department stores. The low range usually has just one speed and the higher range has up to 3 speeds, with chopping and dicing capabilities.
Single serving: single serving blenders almost always provide a twist on lid, so you can pop it on and get out the door. This gives you the best value for your dollar if you’re constantly on the go. They range from $20 to $150, with some of larger price tags featuring pre programmable features and combination settings for the perfect blend.
Full size/traditional blenders: our most common camp of blenders ranges from $30 to roughly $250, with the higher end including extra travel mugs and cups for convenience, as well as more advanced settings. Blenders that are designed to be more quiet also fall into the higher price range of this category.
Speciality benders: these range from $180 to $500 and can include anything from a full set that includes mini juicers, travel mugs and more to a full juicer or stand mixer. It all depends on what you’re using it for.
Always make sure that your cord is free and clear of any liquids, spills, or general mess.
Keep fingers, jewelry and long hair away from blades at all times. If you need to access the mixture, unplug the blender and use a spoon.
Tips to reduce blender noise
A quiet blender is ideal, but if you’re not able to purchase one, here are some tips to lessen the sounds of fruit carnage:
Place a towel or silicone mat underneath
Invest in noise reducing housing to place over your blender
Blend ingredients when alone (ie, the night before)
Remove your blender from the wall, so that the noise is not trapped
Blend more at a time to reduce the need to blend daily
Find ingredients that are not as rough to blend, like frozen fruit instead of ice.
How long does a blender last?
It really does depend on what kind of blender you have, the price range, the materials, and how you run it. If you’re blending heavy items in a mid to low tier blender for 3 plus minutes, it will definitely see a rapid decline. If you know what your blender can handle and treat it with care, you should be able to get anywhere from 1-5 years out of it.
What sort of meals can I make with a blender?
You can prepare a wide range of items with your blender. Soups, doughs, batters, and even nut flours and butters are all possible with the right machine.
What’s the best way to clean a blender?
Most glass, stainless steel, and plastic blenders are dishwasher safe. Simply place upside down on the bottom rack for best access.
If you have a blender that is not dishwasher safe or if you don’t have a dishwasher, put a very small amount of dish soap at the bottom and fill about half way with warm water. Blend for up to 45 seconds, rinse, and wipe clean.
This method is easy and minimizes contact with the blade!
Blenders are an excellent way to enjoy smoothies, alcoholic beverages and everything in between. There’s a blender for every budget and lifestyle, and as long as you take care of it, you’ll be enjoying your blended beverages for years to come.
If you’re looking for a way to stop waking your roommates or family up (or the other way around!) put our tips to use or consider investing in a quiet blender. You won’t regret it.