Mix Masters: Best Buys in Blenders, Food Processors & Stand Mixers (cont.)

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DOING MORE. The trend of manufacturers introducing machines that blur the line between blenders, food processors, stand mixers or even cooking appliances continues to expand, albeit slowly. Two manufacturers introduced three models in the past 2 years that combine functions, compared with a single model 2 years ago.

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We noted in 2010 that Cuisinart used a nonstick heating plate to saute ingredients or boil liquids right in a blender jar. Now, a machine by Kenwood takes that to the next level. Kenwood’s Cooking Chef Kitchen Machine resembles a stand mixer, but it has an induction heating element that cooks food in the bowl as it’s stirred by a paddle. Kenwood says the appliance can cook anything from custard to risotto to soup. At press time, we haven’t performed a hands-on evaluation, but others found that it works as advertised. The machine includes a blender and a food processor that attach to power hubs at the top of the machine. For all of that versatility, you’ll shell out $2,000.

Meanwhile, Ninja added two machines that combine the functions of a countertop blender and a food processor. Ninja launched the Kitchen System Pulse ($170) in October 2011. This model is designed to blend, juice, knead dough, mix and process. In September 2012, the company rolled out its 1200W Kitchen System ($200), which includes a full-size blender jar, a food processor that also kneads dough, and single-serve blending cups—all of which fit on the same base.

Experts whom we interviewed are skeptical that multifunction kitchen appliances are as effective as are their single-function counterparts. Lisa Casey Weiss, who is a spokesperson for International Housewares Association, says she sees the benefit in terms of money and the countertop space that’s saved through multifunction appliances. However, she adds, “There is some kind of trade-off in the quality and function that [consumers] might not get had they purchased two separate appliances.”

We agree. We found that multifunction appliances don’t work as well as single-function appliances do, because different tasks require different motor speeds. Consequently, for example, a motor that works well at slow speeds, such as for food processing, might produce, say, lumpy soup in your blender, which requires higher speeds. In other words, a single-function appliance more likely will keep your food preparation sailing along smoothly.

Jessica Goldbogen Harlan has covered housewares for 18 years. She has written for Consumers Digest, HFN and About.com. 

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