Mixer Buying Guide
Whether you purchase one or more mixers and which type depends on a variety of variables. Mixers come as single function and multifunction machines, as handheld tools that can be stored virtually anywhere, and as large profile countertop stand mixers that require a large amount of space. Here are some hints for picking the mixer(s) you need.
• Multifunction Mixers
Given the right attachment, the motor that runs a stand mixer can also perform many other tasks. Depending on how often they are used in your household among other considerations, you may choose to have a separate stand mixer, food processor, and blender. On the other hand, you might want to look at all the functions a stand mixer can perform, given the right attachments, and compare prices and manufacturers with these elements in mind. Also, you may have limited storage space in your kitchen, which would make a multifunction mixer ideal.
Currently, stand mixers are available with the following attachments:
- • can opener
• citrus juicer
• food grinder
• food processor
• fruit and vegetable strainer
• grain mill
• ice cream maker
• ice crusher
• liquid blender
• pasta maker
• regular blender
• sausage stuffer
• water jacket
Note that some manufacturers offer more attachments than others.
• Light vs. Heavy Duty
The tasks a mixer — whether hand or stand — can do can be divided into light and heavy duty. Light duty tasks include beating eggs, mashing potatoes, mixing cake batter, and whipping cream or egg whites. Heavier duty tasks include mixing cookie dough, and the heaviest duty tasks involve thick, heavy bread or pizza dough. While a couple of electric hand mixers are up to the task of bread dough, many aren’t. A larger proportion of stand mixers marked heavy duty can handle kneading with ease.
Other Mixer Features to Consider
There are some other features that may play a role in your decision:
• Counter Space
Counter space is one important factor in choosing a mixer. While an electric hand mixer can be stored in a cupboard or a drawer, a stand mixer has a much larger profile. Storing a stand mixer in the pantry, for example, might be a possibility, but heavy duty mixers weigh around 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms), so shifting it from place to place is a serious business. Some well equipped kitchens feature a shelf for a stand mixer that can swing up out of a lower cabinet to counter height, and lock in place for use. The mixer is stored out of sight, and never has to be picked up from its storage place to use.
If you do choose a countertop model, stand mixers come in a variety of colors to match your kitchen décor. KitchenAid™, for example, offers nearly fifty colors in their stand mixer line. Another approach is to place a cover over a stand mixer, and these are available in basic colors, and often include an external pocket for storage. Electric hand mixers, probably because they are often stored out of sight, have fewer color choices available.
• Ease of Use
Dishwasher safe parts, a splash guard, and slow start all contribute to the ease of using a mixer. The slow start feature, which may go by a slightly different name, helps to prevent the food from spattering as mixing begins. The splash guard not only keeps liquids contained, but prevents flour from jumping out of the bowl before its been incorporated with liquids.
Written by Mary Elizabeth