How to buy the best cooking aidUpdated 6 months ago
HOW TO BUY THE BEST COOKING AID
When it comes to preparing food at home, we believe our Food Preparation range has every job covered. However, it can be daunting working out which product is for you; as ever, we'd like to give you a helping hand...
TYPE OF PRODUCT
Blenders are used to liquidise, mix and puree food; they are not designed for using purely with dry ingredients. Blenders are best used to make smoothies, milkshakes, soups and sauces and will give a much better result than if you try to make these in a food processor. They are also better at making small quantities of sauces than a food processor. However, a blender will not chop or grate; for this you need a food processor. A blender will pulverise the whole ingredient and leave no pulp, retaining any nutrients in the skins, piths and seeds. This is insoluble fibre that slows down digestion to leave you feeling fuller for longer but also slows down the absorption of the nutrients. You can use a wider variety of ingredients in a blender than you can in a juicer, such as pulses, yoghurt, creamy foods and liquids. They are good for blending fruits such as avocado and bananas, which have no juice.
What to look for: Variable speeds, good quality blending jug, dishwasher safe parts, ice crush
Often referred to as immersion or stick blenders, hand blenders offer similar functionality to a bar blender, but can conveniently be operated directly in the bowl or saucepan. This avoids having to dispense the liquid into a table top blender for liquidising, reducing spillages and the amount of washing up! They are compact and can be easily stored in a drawer or cupboard between uses, or kept on a work top without needing too much space. Some come with attachments such as a chopping bowl, which is designed for slicing small amounts of ingredients, or a whisk. Most come with a mixing bowl or jug. Hand blenders offer a variety of speeds, but are not powerful enough to crush ice.
What to look for: Variety of tools, easy to handle, multiple speeds
A food processor will chop, grate, knead, slice and mix - all things that you could do by hand, but if you are serious about cooking then the time and energy it will save makes a food processor an essential piece of kitchen kit. It's among the most expensive item you will need to buy, but investing in a good processor will give you great results. A good food processor will be able to chop large quantities of fruits, vegetables, nuts and meat with consistent results. The grating attachment will work with hard cheese, vegetables and bread, creating fine breadcrumbs in seconds. They are useful when making pastry or dough. Like a blender, a food processor will mix soups and sauces but work well with smaller quantities and the results probably won't be quite as smooth.
Hand Mixers are an alternative option to kitchen top stand mixers. Used primarily for baking, they are compact and easy to store between uses. A variety of attachments can include balloon whisks, dough hooks and flat beaters. The advantage of using a hand mixer over a stand mixer for baking is that more air can be added to the mixture, as the bowl is not as enclosed, allowing the air to circulate. Mixing with a hand mixer also gives you a better idea of when the mixture has reached the required state. Hand Mixers can also be used for mashing potato, mixing sauces, whisking egg white and kneading dough.