Most kitchens have a stick blender. As a relatively low cost piece of equipment, which is also small enough to store and not take up too much room, the “good old stick blender” can do a lot for a beginner alternative chef kitchen. The main technique you’ll use a stick blender for is to make purees.
They work best for pureeing steamed or cooked veggies, as you do when making soups or something like Glenys’ red pasta sauce without tomato or capsicum.
“Milk shakes”, “ice creams” and “custards”
They can also be great for making milkshakes, especially when you have the milk alternative already made and you’re pureeing banana, mango, berries and other soft fruits or you’re adding in powders like carob or cacao. I wouldn’t blend ice though as most aren’t strong enough to do that.
If you want a chilled milkshake/ thickshake then two top tips that can help without using ice and breaking your stick blender are:
- Thawing a frozen banana (broken into pieces) or
- Making sure all the other ingredients are chilled before blending.
I use our stick blender to make the Mango Lassi, custard and ice cream mix too.
Chopping nuts and dried fruits:
I’ve also made Hayley’s Raw Vegan Anzacs and My Snowflake Truffles (Aka Not Rum Truffles using the food processing attachment that came with our last stick blender. The stick blender alone doesn’t do a wonderful job of this.
Mousses and natural icing
The stick blender is also great for making veggie mousses like this avocado chocolate mousse and natural whole food cake icing and ganache (you’ll see more of this in Season 2 in our Chocolate cake episode).
So what can’t you make with a stick blender?
In my experience, Green Smoothies including any of the following vegetables don’t blend well with a stick blender. The resulting liquid is just not pleasant in texture (I can’t think of any nice analogies that would go here, so lets just say its not cool and leave it with that).
Veggies that don’t blend too well:
- leafy herbs
- raw carrot
While versatile, stick blenders don’t usually do a good job of making powders from items like flax, chia or any of the other nuts or seeds. So there are other pieces of equipment that do a better job of this.
Pastes and spreads
Stick blenders don’t tend to grind up nuts and seeds finely enough to make pastes and smooth spreads. With regard to nuts, you can chop nuts and seeds well enough for bliss balls (see the Anzac truffles above) but usually these attachments hold a small volume and so they’re not a good choice for making recipes which require larger volumes (like our “Cheesecakes” in the Cheesecake Episode). Without the food processing attachment they tend to only finely chop what is close to the blade, so there is a lot of inconsistency in the blending (and you’ll want a beautifully smooth puree when making a dairy free cheesecake). Also the blade will get clogged really easily. So I don’t recommend trying this as you’ll be forever unplugging the stick blender and dismantling it.
With regards to making spreads like hoummus, while you technically can do this with a stick blender, I find you get a much better puree with a proper benchtop food processor (mid range or the super high speed ones like Hayley and Glenys use). With a stick blender, I find the skins of the legumes don’t tend to break up too (hence why I recommend making these kinds of dips with a benchtop food processor).