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Everyday Food, Volume 33 June 2006

With the simple flip of a switch, this handy appliance takes the work out of mixing and pureeing.

You can puree soup, a sauce, or a fruit smoothie; crush ice; or mix up a milk shake or pancake batter -- all in a matter of seconds. With a blender, you are able to puree food to a smoother consistency than with a food processor. A blender works best on mixtures that include at least a bit of liquid (a food processor does a better job chopping or grinding dry ingredients).

A glass jar is preferable to one made of plastic (glass won't scratch and is dishwasher-safe); make sure the jar has at least a 40-ounce capacity. The base should be wide and heavy enough to prevent wobbling even at high speed. Choose a model with a motor of 350 watts or more and a removable cap on the lid for adding ingredients during blending.

When you have a hot mixture to blend, it is better to work in small batches. Fill the blender only halfway, and allow heat to escape: Remove the cap from the lid, cover opening with a dish towel, and proceed.