Blenders offer much versatility due to capabilities beyond blending, while occupying little space in any foodservice operation. This equipment can perform the functions of food processors, nut grinders and mixers, saving counter space by replacing these appliances.
Foodservice operators can choose from a variety of blender types. Traditional blenders have a single blade assembly at the bottom of the mixing container, which comes in varying forms of steel and stainless steel. Blade categories include ice, wet and advanced or heavy duty. Each has a slightly different shape for varying tasks. For example, ice blades are suitable to use when creating frozen drinks, while wet blades are suitable for food prep. Advanced blades have a unique shape for more aggressive blending. Portable immersion blenders have a removable blade affixed to the shafts and are suitable for use with a variety of containers.
Beverage blenders combine a container and blade design to fully process ice-based drinks to the desired consistency. Added power, 2 hp minimum, helps process quickly, can crush ice and contributes to the unit’s longevity.
Operators use food blenders to process food ingredients. These units combine a container and blade design to fully process raw foods and vegetables. Container capacities for this type range from 32 ounces up to a gallon in either a 7-inch-by-7-inch or 9-inch-by-9-inch footprint. Operators can choose between stainless-steel and polycarbonate models when specifying food blender containers.
As a rule of thumb, any beverage with ice can raise the total ticket amount and, as a result, an operator’s profit margin. Ice dispenser/blender combinations allow operators to dispense ice directly in predetermined quantities into a blending container. These shaver blenders have a hopper on top that operators can fill with ice, while the jar below has flavoring or a drink mix. The unit shaves the exact amount of ice needed and automatically measures it into the jar. This type is most often used at resorts, pools and places that serve large quantities of frozen drinks.
Blenders require 120V AC power at 50/60 Hz, but some are available in 220V/240V models. These units have either one-, two- or variable-speed configurations and motors ranging from ½ to 4.2 hp. Controls vary depending on the model and include touch pads, touch pads with various speed options, toggle switches or paddle switches.
Foodservice operators offering a wide range of blended beverages may benefit from a programmable unit with a more powerful motor that can deliver greater reliability and speed of service. For high-volume operations, it’s recommended at least two blenders be used, not only to keep up with demand but also as a safety measure in the event one is inoperable.
These units come with a variety of jars to suit varied product uses and quantities. Jar sizes have increased with food production sizes. Blender capacities range from 32 to 64 ounces, with 128-ounce sizes also available. The wider the blender container, the more volume necessary to get the mix to flow properly. Blend volumes are typically at minimum 8 ounces, but servings range from 12 to 16 ounces.
Most blenders consist of several key parts, including a steel blade, a container with a lid and a motor. Some blenders also have an accelerator tool or tamper, which aids in processing food by eliminating cavitation and can be used to push food through the blade for complete processing. Tampers benefit production of thicker ingredients.
Blender housings feature plastic or die-cast metal construction.
Blenders typically have a timer setting and provide various speeds, including a pulse setting for hands-free use. The timer setting allows staff to attend to other tasks. As some drinks are preprogrammed, it also ensures consistency.
With an increased focus on allergens and food sensitivities, use blenders with colored containers to segregate beverages containing soy, dairy or other ingredients that some customers may seek to avoid.
Aerating blender containers are available with whipping discs inside rather than cutting blades. This incorporates air into mixtures for foams, textured emulsions and specialty fruit drinks that focus on aromatics.