Design and Mixing Mechanisms

What actually goes on in the bowl of your mixer is something you probably haven’t thought a lot about. I mean, it’s a mixer, right? It mixes things. There is, however, a lot that goes into making that happen, and you want to be sure you’re getting what you want before you put down your credit card information.

Just about every little part of the mixer, including the placement of the controls, the weight distribution, and the motion of the head affects how a mixer works. You have to think about things like having a flat enough surface to use it on, making sure the surface is a sturdy counter and not a flimsy table, and checking that the feet are flat once it’s set on the counter. You also have to make sure the counter or table you’re putting it on can handle the weight of the mixer. These things are not lightweight, and you can find out just how unstable a table is by setting a heavy mixer on it and powering it up.

Making Mixes

There are basically two kinds of movements the actual mixing part of a mixer can have, and they make a huge difference when you’re trying to decide what’s best. It’s actually the difference between tools that move and a bowl that moves. It sounds like it should work out to the same thing, but it doesn’t.

planetary mixing

planetary mixing

“Planetary mixing” means the mixing tools move while the bowl stays still. They mixing tools usually move in two ways. One turning mechanism makes the tools spin, to do the majority of the mixing. Additionally, the arm that holds the tools makes circles around the bowl to make sure every place within the bowl gets the benefit of the mixing mechanism. This is definitely the better option, and it’s what you’ll find in many high end mixers.

The other method is called “double stationary mixing”. There are two mixers which spin, but stay in place, and the bowl rotates around them from the bottom. The difference here is you have to do more scraping of the sides of the bowl to ensure all your ingredients get completely mixed in.

Get in the Bowl

There are two ways stand mixers can get the bowl in place, and how it does so affects how far into the bowl the head actually goes. Most consumer and some professional style mixers have a tilt head. This means the top of it flips back to make room for you to take the bowl out and put it back in. It’s a pretty simple way to do things and works well as long as the locking mechanism works properly.

I prefer the alternative method, but it’s only available on higher end mixers – the bowl lift. With a bowl lift, the head doesn’t move. The bowl raises and lowers into place so you never have to move the mixing tools, except to switch them out.
The importance of these mechanisms is that they determine the distance of your mixing tools from the bowl and from the ingredients you’re putting together. If they become misaligned, you can run into a lot of trouble getting the tools into the stuff you want to mix, and that is frustrating.

What Goes In The Bowl Should Stay In The Bowl

When you’re trying to get the most from your mixer, the things that happen within the bowl and as a result of the mixing mechanism are the most important, but often the most overlooked aspects. Don’t forget their importance. If you only take one thing from this, it’s to go with planetary mixing if at all possible. Double stationary mixing certainly works, but it makes you work a bit harder as well.

Check The Feet And Make Sure It Doesn’t Wobble

Your mixer has to be centered in order to work properly. When you put it on the counter, it can’t move around or wobble. It has to stay planted on the counter top so nothing comes out of place and it doesn’t rock itself off the counter. If your mixer has feet to lift it off the counter just the tiniest bit, you need to take a good look at them. If they’re misaligned, and if your counter isn’t flat, you’re going to have trouble with the wibble wobbles.

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