If you love a morning smoothie, you’re likely relying on a blender day–in day-out. These appliances will liquify a set of ingredients in a matter of seconds, ideally leaving an even consistency, with no lumps in sight. The trouble is, even if you’re a regular smoothie connoisseur, there are still mistakes it’s all too easy to make — mistakes which can damage even the best blenders.
Whether you use a personal blender or a full size pitcher blender, such mistakes can lead to an unimaginable sticky mess. In the worst case scenario, they can cause irreparable damage too and shorten your blender’s lifespan. If you’re keen to learn all about these errors, we’ve rounded up 7 blender mistakes to avoid at all costs, so you know which bad-habits to break.
Stuck between buying a food processor or a blender? Check out our guide on food processor vs blender for a breakdown on the differences.
First of all, there’s a max line on the pitcher for a reason. Fill it up past this point and your blender won’t be able to effectively blend such levels of ingredients. This can overwork the motor, which affects its overall lifespan, and with less space for ingredients to rotate, the blades can jam in the process.
Add to that, the liquid can cause undue pressure on the lid, potentially leading to leaks. In the end, the ingredients won't be thoroughly blended and you will be left with nothing, but a mess to clean up after. It’s much better to blend in batches and make sure to always stay within the maximum capacity.
Always consider what capacity you will require on a regular basis before buying a blender. If you plan to predominantly make smoothies for one, a smaller personal blender will likely be more suitable. But, if you're looking to serve a family, and require more power for tougher ingredients, a full-sized pitcher blender will be best.
2. Not fitting the lid
We’ve all seen this happen, whether on TV or in person. Should you not seal the blender’s lid completely or fail to fit it securely, it can lead to an immense mess. As the blades begin to rotate, the ingredients are sprayed across the room, potentially coating cupboards, surfaces and yourself in the process.
The solution to this is simple — never run your blender in a hurry. Always make sure the lid is firmly fitted before pressing go. Some brands, such as Ninja, won’t run unless the pitcher and lid are placed and locked correctly — you can save yourself some serious mess by looking out for this feature. If you suspect the lid isn’t locking due to a faulty part, don’t run the blender until it’s been replaced.
3. Blending the wrong ingredients
While blenders might seem all-powerful, there are certain ingredients that you should never blend. Depending on the toughness and consistency, you could end up damaging your blender in the process. For instance, frozen foods can actually break the components within the blender — this happened to me when I tried to blend frozen spinach once. The rubber grips which rotate the blades were ripped away and I ended up having to replace the part. Always wait until such items defrost first.
Likewise, coffee beans aren’t suitable for blending. These should always be grinded with a relevant attachment and program, or using one of the best coffee grinders. Blending coffee beans will break them down to some extent, but it can dull the blades in the process and produce inconsistent results. Look out for blenders which feature interchangeable coffee grinder attachments to use in such circumstances. For more ingredients which aren’t suitable for blending, be sure to check out 11 things you should never put in a blender.
4. Not cleaning it immediately
While cleaning your blender might not always be convenient — especially if you’re serving drinks to guests, it’s not something you should forget. The residue will be easier to remove while it’s still fresh — even a quick rinse with water can remove the majority. If ignored until the next day, such leftovers will harden and your blender will be all the more difficult to clean, likely requiring soaking and handwashing. Residual smells can be all the more difficult to remove as well in such circumstances.
Cleaning your blender really couldn’t be more simple. Simply fill the pitcher with warm soapy water to half capacity and let it blend for 10 seconds to self-clean. Some blenders even feature a self-cleaning program which will vary the tempo to achieve the best clean. Be sure to leave the lid off as it dries to prevent it from smelling musty. Cleaning your blender after each use will ultimately help it last longer, plus it prevents bacteria from spreading between recipes.
If you’ve got a plastic cup or pitcher, you can also remove the cloudy film which develops on the surface by adding a cup of distilled white vinegar and filling it with warm water to half capacity. Then let it soak overnight, before cleaning it and rinsing it out.
5. Not adding a liquid
Blenders liquify as they work; that means some form of liquid is required for it to blend successfully. If you attempt to blend nothing but solid foods, the appliance will fail to evenly combine the ingredients — the results will be lumpy, thick and inconsistent. This is because a liquid base is required for the blades to work the ingredients effectively. Consequently, a liquid presence will also make blending easier on the blender, resulting in less strain on the motor.
Adding liquid shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing, particularly when it comes to smoothies. It will help create a smoother, more even consistency. Plus, if you use milk, it can add a creamy texture too. On the flip side, don’t overdo the liquid levels — you could end up thinning the results. Check your manual to confirm the minimum liquid requirements. Some offer recipe inspiration too.
Always place liquid at the base of your blender, nearest to the blades, then add soft ingredients on top. The hardest ingredients should be added last to keep them furthest from the blades. If you're using a portable blender, remember that this order will need to be inverted.
6. Using it to crush ice
Crushing ice is possible for some blenders — mainly full-size, powerful pitcher models. For such blenders, there tends to be an obvious ‘ice crush’ program specifically for the task which will pulse the blades until a fluffy texture remains. Otherwise, repeated use of the pulse setting may be recommended until the desired result is achieved.
However, not every blender is capable of this. Attempting to crush ice in an insufficient blender can lead to inconsistent results as well as dulled blades. Do not attempt to crush ice in a blender unless the manual states that it’s designed to do so.
7. Using the wrong setting
Most blenders provide various power settings to suit different purposes. The more power settings on offer, the better, because this ultimately gives you greater control of the appliance. The last thing you should be doing is using the same setting for everything you blend, or just winding it up to full power every time.
A slower blending rate is best for thick and tough ingredients, such as batters. There’s less pressure on the motor in doing this, plus timing can help you achieve more coarse results. While faster speeds will create a fine, almost liquid-like consistency, ideal for smoothies. Check your manual for guidance on the recommended speeds, and use dedicated programs where applicable.