How many gadgets and gizmos do you have in your kitchen? I’m guilty of buying a specialty tool or appliance almost every time I go to Target. You need to cut a vegetable? I have a vegetable peeler, a julienne peeler, a food processor, and a mandolin slicer. Oh, and I have knives.
How often do these specialty tools get used? When it comes to getting food on the table quickly, I reach for the same standbys and the fun stuff stays in a drawer. Unfortunately that means I’m stuck making the same old standby recipes, too.
Ease of use
While a high-end, high-powered blender might be a specialty tool for some people, I’ve had my eye on a Blendtec for a while. I saw a demonstration of what this blender could do about a year ago, and I was impressed. Since then, every time I make soup, or rush out of the house without breakfast, or drop $20 at the store on hummus (hey, I like hummus), I thought about what I could do with a Blendtec.
With the opportunity to test the Blendtec Designer 725, I wanted to skip the novelty “Will it Blend?” tests and get down to what really matters to me in the kitchen.
I don’t want to have to re-read the manual every time I want to use an appliance. I opened up the Blendtec box and was whipping up my first smoothie within 60 seconds. Sure, there is a manual, but I’ll be looking at it more for the dozens of recipes included in the box.
The base of the Blendtec has an interactive touch screen. It’s a friendly blender, with words of encouragement and easy-to-follow instructions. With preset cycles for smoothies, frozen treats, juice, soup, dips, and even the clean cycle, it’s pretty foolproof.
I did have a tiny bit of confusion when a recipe called for “Level 7” instead of any of the presets, and the first few times I tried to pulse I just turned it off, but that was all in the first five minutes of using it. By minute 10 I felt like an expert.
Ease of cleaning
If a tool or appliance takes longer to clean than the time I spend using it, it’s not getting used. Also, I recently moved from a condo with a dishwasher to a house WITHOUT a dishwasher. My tolerance for cleaning fiddly parts is pretty low.
Imagine my glee to discover the preset button for cleaning. This is by far the easiest to clean blender I have ever used. Dump a cup of water and a drop of dishsoap into the jar, and press clean. Rinse, and you’re ready for your next blend.
Word of warning: When they tell you to make sure the lid is secured tightly before blending food, they probably mean that for the cleaning cycle, too. I sprayed suds all over my kitchen counter, but with the sealed touchscreen base, I didn’t have to worry about the water damaging anything.
When I made broccoli soup in the blender I did have to swipe a sponge across some stuck on food near the top of the jar, but the one-piece jar was so much easier to clean than my old $30 blender with rubber gaskets and separate blades.
I follow a very strict gluten-free diet, so it’s extremely important that I know every ingredient going into my food. That usually means I prepare things from scratch instead of buying processed versions. I need tools that help make that job easier.
Check out the ingredient list for a container of Campbell’s Broccoli Cheddar Bisque:
Chicken Stock, Broccoli, Cream (Milk), Celery, Vegetable Oil (Corn, Cottonseed, Canola, and/or Soybean), Contains Less than 2% of: Modified Cornstarch, Cheddar Cheese (Dried) (Cheddar Cheese [Milk, Cultures, Salt, Enzymes], Cream, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Lactic Acid), Wheat Flour, Onions (Dried), Broccoli (Dried), Cheddar Cheese (Milk, Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Maltodextrin, Parmesan Cheese
(Milk, Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Soy Protein Concentrate, Yeast Extract, Flavoring, Nonfat Milk, Butter (Dried) (Cream [Milk], Salt), Garlic (Dried), Buttermilk (Dried), Roasted Garlic (Dried), Spice, Sunflower Lecithin, Annatto Extract for Color, Soy Lecithin.
Here’s the ingredient list of the broccoli cheddar soup I made from a Blendtec recipe:
Steamed broccoli, vegetable broth (I used homemade stock), water, kosher sea salt, ground black pepper, ground nutmeg, cheddar cheese.
I try to shop at farmer’s markets for in-season food, and while I don’t always buy organic, I’m picky about the produce I get at the grocery store. When I go to all that effort, I want my ingredients to shine. I tried some basic recipes out of the Blendtec cookbook that came with the blender – a green smoothie, hummus, almond butter, and broccoli soup to start.
I was very impressed with the simple instructions that produced a good, solid base to work with. With all of those recipes, I divided up the end result and threw it back into the Blendtec to make new flavor combinations. My green smoothie got a tropical twist with extra pineapple and mango. Plain hummus turned into spicy roasted garlic hummus. I made a sweet treat out of chocolate almond butter. I turned a chunky broccoli soup into a whipped puree with added heat from smoked paprika.
As an experimenter in the kitchen it’s important to know that I have a good base to start with, and I can have fun with new flavors. I can tell the Blendtec will give me that starting point for so many meals.
The Blendtec is a high-end kitchen appliance, and it does require a pretty high investment up front, but I think I’ll make money back on it in a year. With an 8-year guarantee warranty, let’s say I’ll get at least 10 years out of this model. From making my own hummus out of a dollar’s worth of beans to making soup to bring to work instead of buying lunch, that’s immediately a few hundred dollars I’ll save in a year.
Then don’t forget food waste. While cooking at home is almost always cheaper than eating out, I still hate to waste ingredients. Instead of throwing out the last bits of greens or herbs that have started to wilt, I can toss them into a smoothie with whatever fruit I have around as well.
Next up: I’ll test out the messiest tasks in my kitchen to see if the Blendtec really lives up to its promises.