To cope with their hectic lifestyle, Hong Kong people favour a more convenient and efficient cooking routine. As such, cooking blenders have become a handy kitchen appliance for many people as they could create a variety of delicious soup pastes and dishes by simply adding ingredients and selecting the preset cooking modes. In the Consumer Council’s test on the performance and safety of 12 cooking blender models on the market, it was revealed that both the blending and cooking performance vastly varied, with substantial disparity in terms of the food’s smoothness, thickness, or fineness and evenness. 2 models even failed to completely blend the ingredients, showing disappointing performance. Generally speaking, mini blenders with a smaller capacity performed less satisfactorily. Besides, 5 models were found with various safety hazards, including excessive temperature rise and insufficient insulation distance, posing potential risks to consumers.
The 12 tested models ranged from $529 to $4,670 in retail price. 8 had a higher rated maximum cooking capacity (around 1.75L to 2L, referred to as “traditional blenders” hereafter), and featured more preset cooking modes, ranging from 6 to 83 modes. The remaining 4 models had a lower rated maximum cooking capacity (around 0.35L to 0.5L, referred to as “mini blenders” hereafter). The Council conducted the blending test according to the international standard IEC 60619, while the cooking performance, power consumption, build quality, noise level, and ease of use were also reviewed. It is worth noting that the 3 models with the highest overall ratings of 4.5 points, which ranged from $1,668 to $2,198 in price, slightly outperformed the highest priced model ($4,670) which was rated 4 points, once again reflecting that the performance and price of a product do not always go hand in hand.
An important feature of a cooking blender is whether it could produce an even and smooth soup paste, the quality of which is closely linked to its ability to blend food finely. However, the test revealed that the blending performance vastly varied amongst models. In the blending test conducted according to the standard, which included carrots, potatoes, onions, parsley and water, etc. as the ingredients, the results showed that 5 traditional blenders received the highest rating of 5 points. On the other hand, the 4 mini blenders had mediocre performance, with 2 models receiving 3.5 points, whereas the other 2 failed to completely blend the ingredients and thus received only 1 point in this test item.
Consumers are most concerned about the cooking performance for the soup paste. Based on the test results of making 5 different types of soup pastes (including western creamy soup, vegetable soup, vegetable smoothie, soy milk and black sesame paste), the test models varied in performance for cooking different types of food, including the thickness, evenness, smoothness and texture.
Taking western creamy soup for instance, over 90% (11 models) could produce soups with a very creamy and smooth texture, thus received the highest rating of 5 points. However, the creamy soup made by 1 model was unsatisfactory in both the thickness and smoothness, and received 2.5 points only. Besides, the vegetable soup made by 4 models were either not thick enough, or could not blend the vegetables evenly and finely, hence only received 3.5 points or less. The black sesame paste made by 3 models scored only 2.5 points due to the very coarse and unpleasant texture. This reflected that some models did not perform well for grinding very small ingredients such as sesame and rice. The model with a poorer overall performance (overall rating of 2.5 points) was a mini blender, which received only 2.5 points for cooking both vegetable soup and black sesame paste.
In terms of making drinks, traditional blenders performed better when making vegetable smoothies, whereas all mini blenders and 1 model of traditional blender only showed mediocre performance and received 3.5 points or less. Furthermore, 2 of the most important factors for soy milk is a smooth texture and being free from the distinct grassy scent. However, the soy milk made by 1 model had more soybean skin residue resulting in a coarser texture; another 2 models had a shorter preset cooking time, and as a result could not remove the grassy scent of soybeans purely using the heat from friction. As such, users need to cook the soybeans in advance before blending and cooking the pre-cooked soybeans in the blender, making the process more complex and thus both models received 3 points only. The Council reminds consumers that soybeans are more prone to natural contamination by Bacillus cereus. To prevent the growth of toxins, consumers should drink the soy milk as soon as possible after cooking, or store it properly in the fridge.
Apart from the cooking performance, consumers should also pay heed to the safety when using cooking blenders. In the safety test conducted according to the international safety standards IEC 60335-1, 60335-2-14 and 60335-2-15, 5 models were found to have an insufficient insulation distance between the live parts and the surface accessible by the user, posing potential safety risks. Amongst these, 2 mini blender models did not even pass the temperature rise test, as they overheated in the event of blending a large quantity of food according to the safety standard. This caused the thermal protection to activate automatically and the test could not be completed. While cooking, 1 model recorded a temperature rise of 58K (1K represents 1°C) at the power cord connector, exceeding the standard limit (45K).
When purchasing and using cooking blenders, consumers should pay heed to the following:
- Do not make purchasing decisions purely based on the product's claimed rotational speed. Carefully compare the different cooking capacities and functions, and select a suitable model based on the family size and cooking functions;
- Be careful of the sharp blades inside the blending cup when cleaning or putting ingredients in, so as to prevent injuries;
- When placing food inside the blending cup, do not exceed the marked maximum capacity or pack the ingredients too densely. Otherwise, it will be difficult to fully blend or cook the food;
- Avoid touching the surface of the appliance during cooking as the temperature may get quite high. Also, never let children touch or use the appliance alone;
- After each use, unplug the power cord of the blender and wait for the appliance to cool down before cleaning thoroughly. When cleaning the blending cup, it is best to use the auto cleaning function or use a brush to clean the blades.
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