The Hungry Engineer

My Vitamix

23 Aug 2008

Had you talked to me five years ago and told me that one day I would spend $400 on a blender, I would have calmly explained to you that you were out of your gourd. I wouldn’t even have been aware that there existed a $400 blender, much less had any interest at all in purchasing one. Here’s how it came to be that I’m the proud owner of just such a blender.

One day several months ago now, I was pureeing a soup, and lo and behold my former blender began making a horrible racket. The rubber teeth on coupler to the drive mechanism connecting to the motor were sheered off - meaning there was nothing left to spin the blades in my blender. I was annoyed. Even worse, my soup was still chunky. The blender had never performed in a way that met with my satisfaction, but I didn’t want to spend cash for a replacement when I could replace a small piece and be back in blending business. So, I contacted KitchenAid’s customer service department. Turns out I couldn’t get the part. I would instead have to take it to an authorized repair facility. Further, it turns out that the closest of those facilities was probably a good 200 miles away from me. I couldn’t justify the cost of the drive and/or the shipping to replace what had to be a $5 part (that I had already figured out how to remove myself) on a blender that I didn’t even like. And that’s how my search for a new blender began.

I scoured the town looking for blenders that had metal on metal drive couplings. I wanted no more plastic or rubber heat or friction would be an issue. Turns out the cost for such a seemingly obvious feature is significant and after staring at an array of $200-300+ blenders, I chose to do more research. After reading tons on Encyclopedia Internet, it seemed that folks who had Vitamix blenders and used them every day actually still had them and were using them 10, 15, and even 20 years later. They had the requisite metal fittings I was seeking. Plus, if I bought a consumer-model Vitamix, it would come with a 7 year warranty (and everything I’ve read says that Vitamix honors those warranties). In review after review, the device pureed soup to a liquid, crushed ice finely and evenly, and performed like a champ day in and day out. For the love of Pete, you could cook soup in it! Surely, if soup could be cooked in the blender, nothing would melt if I pureed something hot.

After much trepidation over the cost, I ordered my Vitamix, a 5000 model (it had a replacement already when I ordered mine, the 5200, but it seemed essentially the same, so I opted to save the cash and get the older model). The unit shipped almost immediately and a few days later, I had the coolest blender I have ever used. Please note, this blender isn’t going to win any beauty contests. But I’ve been cursed with valuing function over aestetics (you should see the way I dress!), and so I have not only the coolest blender I have ever used, I also have the ugliest. The model I chose has one setting for continuously variable speed and a second setting appropriately labeled “High” (as in “my amp goes to 11”). The blender ships with a big recipe book and instructions for use. I began immediately to put it through its paces.

Trial 1 – The Smoothie

I dumped frozen blackberries and strawberries in the blender, added some unfrozen banana, poured in milk to roughly cover, and then sweetened lightly with honey. The instructions sensibly guide you through first turning on the variable setting and running it up from its lowest to its highest speed before wrenching it up to High. Within a minute, I had a perfectly smooth smoothie with – get this – no discernible blackberry seeds. It was wonderful. Plus, it’s not like any chunky fibrous material has to be strained out. You are effectively consuming the whole food, and this is very healthy indeed.

Trial 2 – The Margarita

(What do you expect, I live in Texas and love tequila??) The handy dandy recipe book has you peeling and chucking into the blender a whole orange a whole lemon and a whole lime and then supplementing these with tequila and triple sec (or in my case Cointreau). Top that off with a pile of ice and follow a ramp-up procedure similar to that detailed in the smoothie discussion. It was perfect. I don’t even like frozen margaritas and this one was fantastic! Plus, the recipe easily serves four (or serves three a bit overzealously if your spouse happens to hate tequila).

Trial 3 – The Pureed Soup

I made a Portuguese kale soup, and after cooking up a bunch of goods in a pot, it was required to puree them. Among these ingredients was cured chorizo – which is fairly hard cured sausage. I took the piping hot goods, added them to the blender, and followed the now familiar ramp-up process. It was fantastic! The soup was perfectly pureed. You could see little orange-ish flecks of sausage in the soup, but it was truly perfectly smooth (and wonderfully rich). I was amazed.

Trial 4 - The Nut Butter

By now, I was pretty convinced that my blender was invincible. There was one last pace I was dying to put the beast through. My friends have some kind of almond fetish. I helped them pack up their kitchen at one point and found package after package of almonds. I had read in my recipe book that I could make nut butter with my blender, and I figured with all those almonds, that almond butter would be the way to start that particular endeavor. For fatty nuts like cashews and peanuts, you can just dump the nuts in the blender and go to town. Almonds aren’t quite as fatty, so some supplemental oil is required. I put about 3 cups of almonds in the blender and then added ½ cup of vegetable oil. With some work with the plunger that came with the blender, all the nuts were shoved into the blender’s blades and within about a minute to a minute and a half, I had a smooth, and utterly flavorful almond butter.

There are other wonders that I’ve performed with my fancy blender. I have made pineapple ice cream. Add frozen pineapple, milk, sugar, and ice to the blender, and grind it just like anything else. You are rewarded with a fruity ice cream of soft serve consistency that really must be eaten right away. I have made beautifully textured hummus. If I were to purchase an additional carafe and blade mechanism, I could grind my own flours. (I haven’t been willing to fork out the additional cash for that one though). According to the manual, it can also be used as if it were a food processor, but I believe in using the right tool for a given job, and the food processor just does a better job than the blender at certain tasks.

All told, I think it was money well spent. I’ve had the blender for a few months now and it has consistently performed perfectly for me. Oh, and did I mention that it functions as its own dishwasher? When I want to clean it out after using it, I rinse the big chunks out first and then fill it with about four or five cups of warm water and a couple drops of soap, then crank it up. After letting it run for about a minute, it is nearly always perfectly clean (admittedly, the almond butter caused it a little grief). Yep, I love my Vitamix.

Related Posts