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 V.18 No.3 | January 15 - 21, 2009 

Ask Chef Boy Ari

Baby Steps

Q: I have an Oster blender. I paid $29 for it at Wally and it seems the blades stop blending due to things being too thick. What do I do? Add liquid first then fruit or fruit then liquid? Also, which is better for making baby food--a blender or a food processor? The blender is easier to clean.

—Blender Bound

A: It's better to start with enough liquid in the blender to get a good vortex going and then add your solids, like fruit, to the already-whirling material. You can also chop the solids before adding them to the blender; start the blender on low before increasing the speed.

A blender will work fine for baby food, the ingredients of which are generally cooked until they're falling-apart soft before blending. Better to steam your baby's veggies with just a little water, then use that water in the blender to help liquefy the solids.

But before adding your baby food or steam water to the blender, let it cool first. Hot water can soften and loosen the rubber gasket at the base of the blender, allowing leakage. Of more concern is the possibility of putting too much hot material in the blender and turning it straight to high, causing the pressure in the blender to spike and blow the lid off, splattering hot baby food onto your face and kitchen. I speak from experience here; the wounds are still raw. Last week I simmered some dried chiles in chicken stock and then put the whole business into the blender. After it exploded in my face I had both boiling water and chile heat to contend with, and I cried like a baby.

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