An immersion blender can take the place
of a hand mixer, upright blender and
food processor. Photo courtesy Waring.
We own a food processor, stand mixer, hand-held beater, upright blender and immersion blender. We gave away our mother’s 1970s-era hand-cranked egg beater* a month ago. We may have used it for scrambled eggs decades ago, until we realized that the hand-held beater was easier to use and clean.
More recently, we replaced the hand-held beater with an immersion blender, our current favorite for many kitchen tasks. It’s compact, easy to store and transport (e.g., to make whipped cream for the dessert you’ve brought to a party) and easy to clean.
The immersion blender was created by a Swiss inventor, Roger Perrinjaquet, who patented it in 1950. It was first used by professional chefs in Europe and was then discovered by chefs worldwide. A home version arrived in the U.S. in the 1980s.
Chefs could easily blend sauces and soups in the pot, without having to transfer the hot contents to an upright blender. We got an IB a year or two ago, after watching chefs use them on cooking shows.
Did we really need another special-use kitchen appliance? No, but the IB does make life easier.
You can use it to blend just about anything in a pot or bowl. It’s a multi-tasker that’s good for smaller tasks and easy to transport.
You can buy one for under $30, or chose a deluxe model with wire whisk and chopper attachments (as we did). The deluxe models typically have twice the motor power and more speed options.
While our original intent was to blend soup, we found that our immersion blender could also gracefully take the place of a food processor, upright blender or handheld beater for many tasks. In alphabetical order, they are:
Custard. Unless you want the upper arm exercise, for anything that needs to be constantly whisked, the IB with whisk attachment is much easier to hold.
Chopping. For smaller tasks that don’t require a large food processor bowl—such as chopped nuts—use the chopping attachment.
Drinks. If you’re just making one portion, there’s no need to use and wash a large blender pitcher. Place the IB in a large glass to make malted milk, milkshakes and smoothies.
Eggs. Beating eggs is easier—less splatter, less to clean—than with the hand mixer.
Gravy. It’s easy to get rid of those lumps!
Purées. If you have a stronger motor, the IB can turn out puréed peas and other veggies—even mashed potatoes.
Soups and Sauces. The raison d’etre for the immersion blender: Instead of laboriously transferring hot soups or sauces to a food processor or a blender, stick the IB right into the pot and whir away.
Vinaigrette. When you want an emulsion to hold for hours—for example, serving vinaigrette alongside an undressed salad on a buffet—the upright blender is overkill (and a lot to clean). Use the IB.
Whipped Cream. Use the whisk attachment. We now make whipped cream more often, since it’s so easy and spatters less.
IMMERSION BLENDER OPTIONS
While there are numerous products on the market, here are two representing the basic and deluxe models:
Basic: Waring Pro SB10 Professional Immersion Blender, $29.95.
Deluxe: KitchenAid KHB300 Hand Blender with attachments, $87.90.
*The first egg beater was patented in 1870, by Turner Williams of Providence, Rhode Island, who improved upon an earlier design. The first electric mixer was invented by Herbert Johnston in 1908. It was sold by the KitchenAid division of the Hobart Manufacturing Company.