Deciding between a spiral or a planetary mixer is dependent on the menu, volume and application.


A Guide to Countertop Mixers

Often used in restaurants, bakeries, pizzerias and other commercial foodservice operations, countertop mixers prepare dressings, sauces, batter, dough and other items from scratch.

These mixers are smaller than full-size units, with a shorter profile to accommodate limited spaces.

This equipment is available with multiple speed settings for different applications. Commercial mixers have more power than residential units, incorporate durable components, offer extra safety features and have an extended warranty. Equipped with larger stackable stainless-steel bowls for mixing bigger batches of ingredients, these units also come with heavy-duty stainless-steel accessories that are dishwasher safe.

Countertop mixers utilize an agitator that rotates on a shaft in a stationary bowl. Countertop dough mixers, also called spiral mixers, have a stationary agitator and a revolving bowl to mix large amounts of dough quickly.

Different applications determine what attachments an operator requires, but the three basic ones that come with many models include spiral dough hooks for kneading; flat beaters for batter, icing, cookie dough and mashed potatoes; and wire whips for incorporating air into mixtures such as eggs, meringue and cream. Other attachments include pastry knives for cutting through thicker mixtures and bowl scrapers to minimize labor with manual bowl scraping.

These mixers have either gear- or belt-driven systems. Belt types utilize an actual rubber belt that runs from one gear to the next. Gear types include gears connected to the drive train and motor.

The thicker the mixture, the higher the horsepower necessary. Horsepower will help determine the torque and bowl capacity needed. This equipment is available with ½, ¼, 1, and 1 3/10 hp, depending on the model. These mixers run on either 115 or 120 volts.

Countertop mixer speeds vary, with 3, 5, 10 and 12 speeds the most common. Some types allow users to change mixing speeds during operation, while others require the mixer to be shut off prior to changing speeds.

Planetary type mixers have a yoke where the bowl is attached, which utilizes either a manual lift that raises the bowl 180 degrees with a lever, crank or wheel, or an electric lift mechanism. On some models, the upper housing tilts back for bowl access.

For added safety, most mixers more than 10 quarts include a metal wire or plastic guard around the top of the bowl to prevent operator injury. In some cases, these are required by law, and a number of companies have written bowl guards into safety specifications to protect employees.

There are a number of accessories available for use with countertop mixers. These include additional bowls; splash covers and ingredient shoots that help minimize messes; a digital control panel and timer that requires less labor; non-skid rubber bases to prohibit movement during operation; mixer tables with or without casters that can be used for larger units or when countertop space is at a premium; and, with some models, a choice of finishes.

Much of the innovation with this equipment is due to advanced motor technology that focuses on the quieter operation and more efficient drive trains.

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