Home and Building, Volume 18 Number 1 (June 1955)
The Quest for a Good Mixer
Once the essentials of stove, sink, sufficient storage space and a refrigerator are satisfactorily dealt with, today's homemaker begins to dream of adding an electric mixer to her kitchen helpers.
The first question to be settled is whether this is to be a small portable model or a full-scale, multiple-purpose one. The size of the family and the size of the kitchen are the determining factors here.
The large mixer is seldom justified for a family of less than four, unless an unusually large amount of entertaining is done. The average portions for two or three would simply be swallowed up inpage 69
the workings, and the time spent cleaning the mixer would be more than enough to do the job with a manual piece of equipment. This is not true of the portable mixer, however, about which more anon.
But suppose your family of four or more does warrant a large mixer. Then you must consider where you are going to put it. A mixer is a large piece of equipment, and the jobs it does are seldom much heavier than that of lifting it from some low or high resting place. So to justify spending your money on it, you really must have a permanent counter position for your mixer, where it will be ready to use at a moment's notice. This of course also implies a power point very close at hand. The kitchen is the most dangerous place in the house as it it. There can be no real question about the desirability of trailing an electric cord either across a floor or over other equipment such as a stove. If your counter and power point are not at hand, their cost must be added to that of the mixer.
One partial solution is if the mixer can be kept on the same counter, but in a different position from that where it is actually used. A handy man can make a wooden platform mounted on small casters or ball bearings and the mixer can be kept on this and rolled quite easily into position.
Some kitchens, however, have already been expanded — through good use of the space at hand — until they will expand no more. If this is your situation, and you find no permanent convenient home for a large mixer, do buy a small one which will hang on the wall or fit into a drawer. You may have regrets, but they will not be the same ones you would have on looking at a seldom-used inaccessible beauty.
Having then decided which of the two types will suit your family and your kitchen, what should you look for in design and function?
The portable or hand mixers—to date —only mix and beat. They do this by means of two rotating beaters. These beaters come in several quite different designs, and your choice must depend on which you think will be easier to clean— always a very important question—and which will do the job most efficiently.
Then look at the manner in which the beaters are attached to the motor. Some drop out with the click of a switch; others require a bit of pushing and pulling.
The hand mixer has a great advantage over some of the larger machines in that it can be easily taken to the stove (one large one is detachable!) Potatoes, puddings and frostings can be whipped while cooking or keeping warm. But this means that the weight of the mixer is most important. Remember you will be holding it all the time it is in operation. It must not be too light to do a proper job on heavy mixtures, but it must be well balanced and light enough not to cause fatigue while in use.
What provisions are made for a short pause in operations while you add ingredients or answer the front door? Some mixers are constructed so that they can be placed on their side, or top, with the beaters dripping into the bowl.
If you are left-handed be sure to select a mixer with controls centred in the middle of the handle. Left-handed ones you won't find, but you'll be unable to operate the right-handed controls properly.
The range of speeds will naturally affect the price of a beater. Some have "high, medium and low"; others offer five to seven gradients. Some manage to print directly in the small handle space available instructions as to which speed should be used for which foods. This is helpful particularly in the beginning.
You may then spend some time comparing the finish and general appearance of the mixers in question. And particularly if you have two or more together and remember to consider solidity and durability rather than a "sparkling-while-it-is-still-unused" appearance, your judgment will probably be sound.
Unfortunately, in the absence of objective testing laboratories, there is no practical way to test one of the mostpage 71
vital parts of the mixer, the motor. But here a reliable trade name will be your best friend, supplemented with a reasonable guarantee in writing. Any good mixer carries a motor guarantee, so there is no reason to be caught with an inferior product.
Be sure the hand mixer will either hang on the wall or fit conveniently into your drawer space.
Some of these tests are the same ones that you will want to apply to a standard mixer if such has been your choice. That is, the design of the beaters, the ease with which they can be removed, the general quality of the machine, etc.
But naturally the larger machine has other differences as well. You will have your choice as to whether the bowl rotates about the beater or beaters, or whether the beaters move about in a stationary bowl. Some machines have only one large bowl; others offer two or three sizes.
A larger range of speeds is more important on this machine because of the larger number of tasks it can perform. And if is also more important that the speeds and instructions be clearly marked and the controls easy to operate.
Most of the larger mixers now carry a full range of accessory equipment, some included in the purchase price, some as extras. If you are quite certain you won't use most of the equipment included in the [unclear: pe], you may want to go back and reconsider a hand mixer. For there is little purpose in buying equipment which will be unused.
For the most part, the standard equipment is of the most helpful kind. It usually includes a juice-extractor or squeezer for oranges, lemons, etc., a grinder or mincer with a variety of discs for mincing meat, fish and raw vegetables; and a liquidiser which will grind coffee, chop nuts and blend mixtures for soups, appetizers, etc. The instructions for the use of these attachments are uniformly uninspired, but if you keep an open mind while cooking you will find the equipment becomes more and more valuable. You will learn new tricks, which provide new taste pleasures for your family and also are most economical in the use of left-overs.
Other attachments which are usually separately priced include a really efficient potato peeler, a colander and sieve very useful if you are bottling, a vitam-izer for extracting juices from vegetables, and a gadget for mixing drinks.
For those of you who regard cooking as a real "art", these attachments will open new and thrilling fields. And even the most hum-drum cook will appreciate the savings in time and energy which the commonly-used attachments provide. The principal use of the mixer used to be in creaming butter and sugar mixtures for baking, but the strides have been so great in the last five years that this is now only one of the very important tasks entrusted routinely to the mixer.
Consider well the needs of your own family and the space available in your kitchen, consider the type of mixer you buy, and consider the good name of the firm which issues the guarantee. When you are satisfied in all these respects, you may be sure that the mixer of your choice will give you joyful, efficient service for many years to come.page 68page 69page 70page 71