Blenders can be an amazing kitchen asset, letting you blend everything from soups to dips to smoothies. But for all the tasty things you can do with your blender, there are quite a few foods that can spell blender disaster.
Room temperature leafy greens
Juicing has endless health benefits, but beware when putting those fibre-rich leafy greens in that blender. “The motor can easily turn your dish brown. To keep colours vibrant, ice your greens for five minutes prior to adding to the blender,” says Andre Sickinger, a clean-food chef.
Certain super high-fibre foods
It’s not just leafy greens: Be careful with anything high in fibre. “Even with the new super-powerful, high-speed blenders, foods that are high in fibre don’t do well,” says Rachel Muse, a private chef. Raw broccoli stalks will turn to strings of fibre, for example.
Rock-hard frozen fruit
One thing people love to make is fruit smoothies. While they’re delicious and easy to make, people sometimes put fully frozen fruits in the blender. This can result in lumpy smoothies and, in some cases, can cause the sharp blades to crack and break. Leave frozen fruits out in the fridge to thaw or put them in a Ziploc bag and thaw in a bowl of water before blending.
Anything really hard like nuts, coffee beans, or cocoa beans will either blunt the blade and not blend or the motor will be powerful enough to blend and you’ll wind up with a sticky, grout-like paste, says Muse. These are better in a grinder, or stick with having nuts in a salad or pasta.
Anything with a really strong flavor (garlic, chilies, etc.) may affect the rubber seal of the blender and taint future things that you blend. You may have noticed this when you put raw garlic in your blender when making that steak marinade, and then still had the flavour in your morning smoothie even after washing the container out.
Too little or too much liquid
When the machine is running and you have to add liquid, do it slowly to avoid surging motor or splashing. The ratio of liquid to solids must be right. Not enough liquid and the blender will make some things lumpy; too much liquid and the blades won’t come into contact with the solid. Our favourite liquid to add to a smoothie? Coconut water—which also happens to be the best beverage to drink to cure a hangover.
Anything with bones
This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how often professionals and beginners alike make this mistake, according to Sickinger. When adding chicken or fish to a blender for meatballs or fish cakes, it is important to make sure that there are no bones in the meat.
“Great recipes are about layers of tastes and textures. Blending meats changes the consistency and texture of meat into baby food,” says Terri Rogers, chef and CEO of NoOodle. (Of course, that’s fine if you’re making it for a baby or need to eat soft foods for whatever reason.)
“Unless you have a high-performance blender (like a Vitamix), never try to blend sun-dried tomatoes. Their leathery texture will jam up the blender. If you want to blend them, make sure to soak in water first to soften them up,” says Ali Maffucci, founder of Inspiralized.
Shannon Sarna Goldberg, editor of The Nosher, warns against making tomato sauce in the blender. “It adds too much air, which gives the sauce a pinkish hue,” she says. Instead, try Slow Cookier Tomato Sauce.
Chris Nirschel, chef and CEO of NY Catering Service, says potatoes or other starchy vegetables cannot be over-blended or they get a starchy texture and are not pleasant to the mouth. That means no making mashed potatoes in the blender.
Anything super hot
If you put hot liquid in your blender with the lid on, you could have a serious emergency on your hands. “The steam will make the whole thing explode the lid and the liquid will be all over the kitchen,’ says Monaghan. This can make a major mess and cause burns
“I don’t make any kind of dough in a blender. It will toughen it if you are not incredibly careful,” says Monaghan.
Although ginger is loaded with health benefits, it’s better to leave out of your smoothie—if it’s fresh or dried, at least. “It’s so fibrous that you just get strings and a mess. It’s better to chop it,” says Shirley VanScoyk, owner of Spread Love: Jellies, Jams and Condiments in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
If you put flour, confectioner’s sugar, or baking mix in a blender it spews all over. “Pour it into a liquid through the hole in the lid. Just use a mixer with a deep bowl and a very slow speed,” says VanScoyk.