Blending In

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Designed for incredibly heavy use, these commercial-grade
blenders take menu possibilities to the next level.

Blenders have been used for light kitchen food prep for decades. Beyond that, they’re often used in drink production and also serve in health care kitchens to make pureed foods for patients. Current trends call for use of a blender whether it’s for healthy eating via juicing or exotic bar drinks. Thus, manufacturers are expanding their product lines to meet increased demand in commercial blenders.

A handful of mixer-blender manufacturers dominate the North American foodservice market. To meet growing demand and differentiate their products in a competitive market, these manufacturers have introduced more powerful models with larger capacity as well as quieter models with more sophisticated controls and complete blending systems.

Blender Basics

All blenders incorporate a high-speed bottom-mounted motor that drives very sharp cutting blades mounted inside a glass, acrylic or stainless steel container. They’re all equipped with a cover to contain the results. Base-mounted motor controls are used to adjust blade speed and deliver the desired product consistency. The larger the batch capacity and tougher the raw product being blended, the more powerful the motor and more aggressive the cutting blade design.

While retail models and low-end commercial blenders can be purchased for well under $100, they are not built to last nor designed to handle the product loads and abuse common in commercial kitchens or busy bars. Professional, commercial-grade blenders are well worth the investment as well as the time spent researching and evaluating the options.

Kitchen Blenders

While most blenders can be pressed into service for food processing, kitchen blenders are designed to rapidly chop, mix and emulsify a variety of raw ingredients and seasonings into sauces or food purees. Most kitchen blenders have wider, shorter stainless steel mixing bowls with plastic tops, rather than tall jars or pitchers. Clear plastic tops allow operators to check blending progress; some also allow the addition of ingredients through the top during the blending process.

Mississippi-headquartered Robot Coupe USA offers a broad range of food prep and processing solutions, including bowl and vertical mixers, hand-held stick mixer/blenders and plenty of vegetable and combination processors, including its popular Blixer Line. Unlike most kitchen blenders, Blixers are available in graduated sizes designed to match the production needs of the customer—from compact tabletop models with 2-quart capacity to 20-quart models and larger floor models with 23- to 60-quart batch processing capacity.

All countertop Blixers have a compact and stable base with a powerful induction motor; a stainless steel bowl with a user-friendly handle; a clear, tight-fitting polycarbonate lid; and a built-in cover-and-side scraper. Motor horsepower and bowl capacity increase with the Blixer size. Single speed, two speed or variable speed (V-Series) controls are provided depending on model, application or user need.

Connecticut-based Waring is both a retail and commercial countertop appliance powerhouse, but it got its start back in 1937 with the introduction of America’s first blender. So it’s no surprise that Waring Commercial has a broad line of food and bar blenders. Most recently, the company introduced a new, versatile kitchen blender it calls X-Prep, which is a high-power blender with variable speed control from 1,500 up to 20,000 RPMs and a 3.5-horsepower motor. Ideal for purees, hot creamed soups or fresh fruit sorbets, the removable one-piece jar pad is dishwasher safe to make cleanup between batches fast and easy.

Professional Bar Blenders

Bar blenders must be powerful enough to chop and slush hard cube ice, puree fresh fruit and quickly blend the liquor and mixes that keep the party going. Because they’re typically housed behind or adjacent to crowded bars, noise can be an issue when chopping ice, so most of the major blender manufacturers have noise containment enclosures to address this issue.

Ohio-headquartered Vita-Mix Corporation’s Vitamix brand is generally considered one of the best lines of commercial blenders available today. The Quiet One is its answer to bar noise reduction. It incorporates advanced vibration dampening technology and motor-cooling air flow management. The Quiet One is also easy to use with its Advance container design for faster and easier pouring of thick blends. A magnetically secured sound cover makes removal easy and reduces cleaning time. Controls include six function settings with 34 optimized programs that deliver consistent beverage preparation. The controls make it easy to create custom blending programs for signature bar drinks, smoothies and blended coffees.

For large-batch capabilities in the bar or kitchen, the Vitamix XL Model has a 1.5-gallon blending capacity, which means it can make up to 24 (8-ounce) servings per batch. From delicate tomatoes to dense meat, the powerful 4.2-horsepower motor can handle any blending chore. The XL comes with a pulse function and variable speed control as well as a removable lid plug to add additional ingredients while blending.

Waring Commercial’s Xtreme Hi-Power Blenders boast 3.5 horsepower and more than 30,000 RPM blade speed. Depending on the model, these blenders are available with 48- or 64-ounce copolyester or stainless steel containers; as well as the aggressive new Raptor containers, which are designed to better incorporate and blend contents at low or high speeds. Xtreme Models are available with built-in timers and touch pad or toggle-set variable speed controls. They can be ordered with sound suppression enclosures to reduce bar noise as well.

Need to blend a rake handle, iPhone or a handful of marbles? Probably not, but unless you live under a rock, you know that Blendtec and its charismatic founder Tom Dickson can do so in one of their powerful but safe blenders. The Blendtec line of food and beverage blenders is built to quickly and easily slush rock-hard ice into smooth-as-silk slush drinks. The company accomplishes those herculean and more prosaic blending feats using an ultra-high speed motor with 3.8 horsepower, a blunt safety blade that is 10 times stronger than traditional  blender blades and its unique five-sided WildSide blending jar. The result is a perfectly blended frozen drink in just 14 seconds.

The Stealth 875 Model can also do it quietly with a sleek sound enclosure that just covers the blending jar and proprietary airflow innovations that reduce noise to normal conversation levels. The 875 comes with 42 preprogrammed blend cycles and online access to the Blend Wizard customizable blend cycles. With those amazing “Will it blend?” challenges well met, it is no surprise these blenders are backed by a three-year parts-and-labor warranty.

Like Waring, Virginia-based Hamilton Beach is another retail and commercial appliance powerhouse that offers an impressive line of professional blenders through their Commercial Product Group. For example, its Hamilton Beach Commercial Fury high-performance blender has a 3-horsepower motor, durable all-metal drive coupling and a patented Wave-Action System that ensures whatever you mix is continuously forced down into the blades. The result is a super-creamy drink profile every time. HBH550 Series Fury blenders have a timer with automatic shutoff, a removable filler cap to add ingredients while blending and Sure Grip feet for stability.

When blender noise became an issue, Hamilton Beach introduced the Commercial Eclipse High-Performance Blender, which incorporates the proven 3-horsepower motor and unique Wave-Action jar and blade design but adds an advanced Quiet Shield enclosure to reduce noise to a conversation level. The Quiet Shield has clips that allow easy removal for cleaning and incorporates a sensor that requires the door be closed before blending. Fury Models have five “most popular” drink buttons and more than 100 additional blending cycles. Custom blending programs are available and can be loaded using a memory card.

Slushie Makers

The popularity of slush-based drinks is undeniable. In addition to bar-based, alcohol-blended drinks, nonalcoholic versions are found in most convenience stores and in a growing list of major quick-service and fast-casual chain restaurants. While fruit-flavored slushies are still popular, coffee-flavored cold beverages and even carbonated soda variants have added a caffeine kick to slushie menus.

In addition to self-standing countertop beverage blenders, Blendtec Commercial has partnered with Lancer to introduce a high volume crew-service refrigerated frozen beverage station. The BlendPoint Beverage Station consists of a rugged 3.8-horsepower Blendtec blender that is mounted on a refrigerated base and holds eight bag-in-box flavor containers. It is topped with a 25-pound ice hopper and features a simple touchscreen control system, flavor transfer pumps and cup, lid and straw holders.

This compact work station can automatically drop ice and flavorings into the blender and activate the blend cycle. When complete, the operator pours the frozen drink into a cup, adds any syrup toppings or whipped cream, caps it and presents the finished creation. The beverage station includes an integrated blender jar rapid-rinse-station for between-drink cleaning. The BlendPoint System is designed for operators doing 200-plus blends per day. The Blendtec Commercial by Lancer strategic partnership also allows Lancer to market, sell and support Blentec’s products and manufacture their dispensing equipment.

Juicers

While long practiced by serious athletes, fitness fanatics and the health-conscious, concerns with processed foods and trends toward healthier eating have ramped up the demand for fresh juices. A new breed of quick-service and fast-casual chains, including Jamba Juice and Juice It Up, are expanding into new markets. Some bars are adding juicers to create sophisticated cocktail concoctions. Even supermarkets are getting into the act, offering fresh-made juice service in the deli.

While a single-serve Ninja can handle your personal juice cravings, serious juicers are needed by commercial juice joints. In answer, Robot Coupe USA has introduced a heavy-duty line of automatic juicers. The J80 Ultra and J100 Ultra are designed to produce a glass of ultra-fresh juice in just seven seconds. Their patented raw product automatic feed tube can continuously handle fruits and vegetables up to 3 inches in diameter. No pusher is required. Both the J80 and J100 can be set up to eject pulp into a bin positioned under the worktop or into an attached, translucent 6.5- or 7.5-quart pulp container.

The J80 Model has 6.25-inch clearance under the anti-drip juice fill port, while the J100 has 10.25-inch clearance for a glass or pitcher. The J100 Model has a powerful direct drive 1,000-watt, 1.25-horsepower motor for high volume applications. Both models come standard with drip tray, stainless steel bowl and motor base. A simple on-off switch and automatic feed make these juicers safe and easy to operate.

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