Best of the conusmer grade immersion blenders.

Jul 1, 2008 (Updated Jul 1, 2008)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Easy to clean stainless steel shaft. Blade guard does not scratch pots.

Cons:Plastic internal gears, plastic splines. Somewhat short cord.

The Bottom Line: The KHB100 is easy to clean, and its nine speed settings render it quite versatile. It's powerful and durable enough to do nearly anything one would want, except crushing ice.

To purchase an immersion blender superior to the KitchenAid KHB100 (or the equivalent KHB200 and KHB300, which merely come with more accessories) is like purchasing wrenches better than Craftsmans. It can be done but for three or four times the price, and only makes sense if one is a professional who uses it every day, or simply has money to burn, or really has a need for a 400 watt motor.

The KHB100 is among the best of the consumer-grade immersion blenders. Setting it apart is its eight inch long, dishwasher-safe shaft, 240-watt motor, detachable stainless-steel shaft and nine-speed control knob.

A slotted splashguard at the business end keeps things from getting messy if the blender comes out of the liquid. However, it also makes it a little more difficult to puree truly large chunks of vegetable. The splashguard's bottom is ground to a gentle curve, so that it does not readily scratch nonstick pots.

Cleaning is easy. Most of the time, the shaft, blade, and splashguard need only be rinsed under the faucet for a few seconds. Sometimes running the blender in a glass of clean water is needed. For the rare occasions when more thorough treatment is demanded, the shaft may be removed and placed in the dishwasher, or scoured with scouring powder or steel wool. The upper unit wipes clean with soap and hot water; the on/off switch is covered with a rubber seal to facilitate this and prevent it from being gummed up with soup residue.

The KHB100 makes short work of the onions in homemade barbecue sauce, mixes pancake, omelette, or souffle batter better than a hand mixer, and smooths out vichyssoise and mulligatawny in a couple of minutes, without the hassle of ladling to a food processor or standard blender. I've found that it leaves the mulligatawny's coconut flakes largely intact; for those desiring an absolutely smooth soup, or berry purées without seeds, there is still no substitute for a food mill. A few pulses of this adds to a bean soup the creaminess which doesn't easily come by cooking alone if the beans are too old; low speed settings prevent it from at the same time turning too much meat and vegetables into mush.

Some low-end immersion blenders are known to seize up or fail over a hot pot, but I've used mine over simmering soup with no problems. Its length is such that the user's hand is kept well away from the hot liquid. Even with my relatively short fingers (which I cannot get around it, except at the very narrowest point), I find it easy to grip; its slight waist at the top makes holding it comfortable and gives the thumb easy access to the on/off switch. Five feet of power cord is a little short for my (antiquated) kitchen, but for most people, it's more than enough.

The KHB100 may in some ways be akin to the steroided-up athlete whose muscles are too strong for their tendons. Reports of it destroying its plastic internal gears or the plastic socket and splines that connect the blending shaft to the drive unit when used to crush ice are common. The packaging does not say it can be used to crush ice, but the (largely useless) instructions do not emphatically say not to crush ice, either. I haven't tried, and have had no problems with my blender to date.

One can certainly do better with a Waring, Bamix, or Bosch, all of which reputedly crush ice with ease, but which, even on the used market, sell for considerably more than this $50 unit.

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