Expanding the way you make use of the blender can be a game-changer. (Say goodbye to store-bought hummus!) However, while the powerful engine and blades of a blender can handle a lot of things, there are a few things that shouldn't make their way into this appliance. Here are seven items you shouldn't toss in your blender.
1. Extra-Hot Liquid
While puréeing soup is one of the best features of a blender, if that soup is so hot it's practically boiling, throwing it in the blender can be extremely dangerous. Trapping the very hot liquid inside of a blender and hitting the "on" button creates steam and pressure inside that could lead to the lid blowing off and hot soup exploding everywhere.
Instead, let the soup cool for at least five minutes before transferring it to the blender. Fill the blender no more than halfway and hold the lid down tight with a kitchen towel to prevent any accidents.
2. Mashed Potatoes
While it may seem innocent enough, turning to a blender to make mashed potatoes will result in failure. The blades of a blender will overwork the potatoes, causing them to release too much starch. What you'll be left with is a gluey, gummy mess instead of the fluffy side dish we all know and love. Instead, reach for a ricer, food mill, or traditional masher.
3. Dried Fruit or Sun-Dried Tomatoes
If you have a high-powered blender, like a Vitamix, this shouldn't be a problem. But if you have a standard blender, the leathery, tough texture of dried fruit and sun-dried tomatoes can easily stick to the blades and even ruin them. If you do really have to blend them — like if, for instance, you're making sun-dried tomato pesto — soak them in warm water first, to soften them.
4. Coffee Beans
Technically, yes, you can grind coffee beans in a blender, but like whole spices (see below), there are better tools out there for grinding. A blender will lead to inconsistent-sized granules, which could affect the flavor of the coffee. The beans could also wear down the blades of the machine. You're better off investing in a coffee grinder.
5. Anything Extra-Frozen
Again, that is unless you have a high-powered blender, which is more powerful and up for the job. A standard blender, however, might have trouble with the firmer items. Ice cubes might be too hard to crush efficiently, frozen fruit could remain in chunks, and the blades could wear down under the pressure. Instead, if you're trying to make a smoothie in a standard blender, let frozen fruit thaw for five to 10 minutes or so before tossing them in, and use ice that is already crushed.
6. Whole Spices
A spice grinder exists for a reason — that (or a mortar and pestle) really is the best tool to grind whole spices. The standard blades of a blender really aren't meant to be effective at grinding dry ingredients. In fact, Vitamix sells a dry grains container just for this purpose. The height of a blender can also cause the fine particles of ground spices to settle more slowly, leading to black pepper and other cough-worthy particles to float up into the air.
7. Utensils While It's Running
This may seem obvious, but it's worth saying as a reminder: Be mindful that the blender is completely turned off before you stick that spoon or spatula in there to stir or scoop things up. Remove the pitcher from the base before using any sort of utensil.