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My wife had a "smoothie" made by a co-worker that is based on green apples and raw red potatos. Our smoothie maker can't do that and leaves unchopped bits and a gritty feel.

Her friend uses a Vitamix blender, and looking up the model number not only induced sticker shock, but reviews raised concerns with the item leaving bits of teflon in the food etc. And the price for just a replacement pitcher is so high that it appears overpriced.

What is it about a blender that allows it to make a good purée rather than just mixing things easily? I think it might be the design of the blade and base, not just raw power: even a modest powered blender doesn't stall or run out of power; but it doesn't chop any finer no matter how long it is left running. It might also involve speed vs torque usage of power.

Does anybody know what makes a machine capable of making a good purée as opposed to just blending, especially when both kinds are sold as “blenders”.

Should I be looking for ones with different options for blades like a food processor, to make it well suited to different purposes? E.g. I have seen blades just for milkshakes.

In general, how do you shop for one when the only information a seems to be total power and the number of presets?

  • I think this question is the best we can do for you. We don't really do product recommendations but the answers here will help you figure out what to look for in a blender. – Catija Feb 3 '16 at 23:28
  • Catija is correct, product recommendations are off topic. I don't think this is a duplicate, because the other question is about general use and you have much more specific requirements. But we can't tell you which model to get, or what to do to find it. That's why I had to edit out a part of your question. The best we can hope is that someone knows exactly which characteristic of a blender makes it suitable for your purpose. – rumtscho Feb 3 '16 at 23:42
  • I understand that specific products is considered not-durable information, but how to find it ought to be OK. It transcends specific products and goes into evaluation criteria. – JDługosz Feb 4 '16 at 0:18
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    @JDługosz Yeah, that's fine - I put a bit of the original question back in. It was really just the "what brand" that we don't want to get into. – Cascabel Feb 4 '16 at 0:25
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    @MarcLuxen : you shouldn't put cooked potatoes in a blender to mash them. The question specifically mentioned raw potatoes. – Joe Feb 4 '16 at 11:01
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Your requirements appear to be for a "raw food" blender, the motor on those units are typically well above 500 watts (1000+ Watts). This enables harder/tough foods (such as ice, kale, nuts) to be broken down smooth enough that no sieving is required, with less risk of overheating the motor. Note: when a blender has a nut bag, or a nut bag option, it alludes to potentially not able to break down harder food without leaving noticeable particles.

There are a few blenders suitable for raw food enthusiasts, depending on each model they may have a:

  • Tamper
  • Higher rpm (20,000+ rpm)
  • Higher power (500 Watts — 1000+ Watts/2–3 horsepower) Compared to a standard blender (typically 200–400 Watts)
  • Different jug design/dimensions (width/height)
  • Different speeds and/or cycles/programmed settings (e.g. smoothie, 60 seconds, 90 seconds, clean, etc.)
  • Different Blade designs
  • Smaller portion containers (capsule/bullet shaped)

A tamper is usually provided to allow the user to push food items back towards the blade. When a tamper is not included on some of the other blenders it may be due to a different blade design along with a different power motor. This may cause all of the food in the blender to be pulled back to the blade by the vortex it creates, thus alleviating the need for human intervention.

The price variance between blenders is wide, and quite expensive for some of the higher performance models. Intrinsically some research into refurbished models.


In direct answer to the questions from OP.

What is it about a blender that allows it to make a good purée rather than just mixing things easily? Does anybody know what makes a machine capable of making a good purée as opposed to just blending, especially when both kinds are sold as “blenders”.

Mainly power of the motor, and the blade design enables the blender to breakdown hard foods completely. Regular blenders do not have the power, nor the cooling ability for the motor to operate at long enough periods - even some models that market suitability for crushing ice can be known to overheat/fail.

Should I be looking for ones with different options for blades like a food processor, to make it well suited to different purposes? E.g. I have seen blades just for milkshakes. In general, how do you shop for one when the only information a seems to be total power and the number of presets?

Blenders that have a high power motor, high rpm, and/or market its suitability for ice/nut butters/hard spices (e.g. nutmeg), indicate potential. Where possible, check reviews (where blending nuts has been tested) or better still, when the blender has demonstrations. You may be able to request a demo on nuts, if so you could taste or strain this into a sieve or paper towel/kitchen towel — to check for any particles that have not broken down.

  • +1. A high-powered blender is capable of running longer, but will also probably make it smoother faster. When making smoothies, I've never felt the need to run our Blendtec longer than 60 seconds -- the "smoothie" program. If I want to maintain a little more texture -- say flecks of frozen strawberries -- I use the 30-second "milkshake" setting. – Wayne Sep 8 at 13:02
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In general, how do you shop for one when the only information a seems to be total power and the number of presets?

Product reviews from real users is your best tool. Problem: it is time consuming to read many reviews and weed it down to the helpful ones, and the comments are not always accurate.

I heavily rely on Amazon reviews, even if I don't end up purchasing there. What I like about Amazon reviews is the "ask a question" feature. For example, you could ask "can this puree an apple, not leaving a gritty feel?". When I've asked questions on a popular product, I've gotten same day answers.

  • +1. I also visited a bunch of cooking/smoothie blogs and sites for reviews. (I ignore the sites that are purely reviews of anything and everything.) – Wayne Sep 8 at 12:56
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If you have access to one, try a food processor - they vary, but some (left running long enough) achieve a pretty convincing puree. You could also try pre-grating the potato (and apple, if you like), using a different blade, to speed the process along.

I just "upgraded" to a 30+? year old cuisinart (from the made in Japan years), which is both quieter and more prone to achieving a puree than the presto I'd been using for 20+ years. Sticker-shock (which would have been profound when new) should be blissfully low at a yard sale, estate sale, second-hand shop or similar source, and I'm pretty sure there's no teflon to come off.

  • I had suggested using the Cuisinart (perhaps a specialized blade is available) but my wife didn't want to use that for smoothies. – JDługosz Jul 5 '16 at 2:38
  • Standard steel chopping blade - made puree out of soaked (but uncooked) chick peas/garbanzo beans - somewhat more than I intended, actually, but it was the first thing I did in the "new" processor. My previous processor would have left it rather coarser. I'll need to back off the processing time to get the same texture I used to. – Ecnerwal Jul 5 '16 at 3:09

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