Archive for the ‘ Photos included ’ Category

Worn down blade assembly (with photos)

Turned on my Vitamix 7500 today with some frozen coffee ice cubes and milk in it,and the blade assembly spun while the blade stayed where it was.  That’s not good.

Fortunately, I’ve had two experiences in the past where I’ve spoken with Vitamix support, so I had no doubt they’d take care of me.

Sure enough, I called Vitamix support, after a short wait I was connected to a woman who looked me up, and they told me they’d have a new blender container in the mail to me shortly, and that I’d get a tracking number by e-mail once it was shipped.

Here’s two photos showing what happened:

Worn Blade Assembly (top view)

Normally the hole in that blade is a square, which sits firmly on the square post of the blade assembly. (Note: You can click on the image for an extremely high resolution version where the wear is much easier to see.)

Worn Blade Assembly (angledview)

As you can see, the square peg has progressively rounder edges towards the top, and the side of the square hole on the blade are rounded as well. (Note: You can click on the image for an extremely high resolution version where the wear is much easier to see.)

I know my Pro 300 spent most days in the summer having some kind of frozen coffee or fruit blended in it, and that use my Vitamix quite a bit, but it’s still unfortunate to see this happen.  I’m thrilled Vitamix is sending a new blender container, and hope that this was a one off, and that the new container will be up to handle whatever I throw at it.

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Fresh Peach Banana Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Smoothie (★★★☆☆)

Maybe I’m being a bit too harsh in rating this, as it was really tasty and everyone devoured it.  That said, it was in that awkward middle zone between being a sorbet, frozen yogurt and a smoothie.  We just threw a lot of frozen peaches, a banana, some strawberries, the rest of the plain yogurt we had and some ice and water into the blender.  As you’d expect, it definitely tasted good, but had too much water and ice to be a good frozen yogurt, too much yogurt to be a sorbet, and not enough water and ice to be a smoothie.

Fresh fruit pretty much always tastes good when blended into a frozen treat, but having a structured goal or better recipe would have bumped this up a star or two.

Fresh Peach Banana Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Smoothie (★★★☆☆)
As you can tell from the name, this tasty frozen treat didn’t know what frozen treat it wanted to be.

4 frozen peaches (cut and pits removed)
1 banana
6 strawberries
plain yogurt
Ice/water

Freeze the peaches in advance.  Then put the peaches, banana, strawberries and yogurt in the blender.  Blend on medium to high, using the tamper and adjusting the blender intensity to ensure everything is well mixed.  At this point you have tasty frozen yogurt.  Frozen yogurt diluted with additional ice, water and/or yogurt as desired to create a smoothie or milder frozen yogurt.  Serve immediately.

sorbetsmoothie

Ripe, local, seasonal fruit is so good it doesn’t need much help, so no amount of random mixing on my part was able to make this not taste good, but trying to make a sorbet, similar to the peach sorbet I made, or a frozen yogurt or a smoothie would have been better than just randomly throwing things in the blender and ending up somewhere between the three.

I do plan on trying to make a pineapple and peach sorbet, as we picked up a lot of fresh, locally grown peaches recently, and I think the pineapple and peach might go well together in a sorbet.

Fresh Blackberry Sorbet (★★☆☆☆)

Our backyard has a fence that’s lined with blackberry and raspberry bushes on the other side of it.  The blackberries are at their peak and we we’re bringing in about a pound a day this week.

Based on how good the Fresh Peaches Sorbet was, we decided to try to recreate that magic with fresh blackberries.  Unfortunately, the blackberries are smaller than what you’d see at the grocery store, and have a substantial number of seeds per berry.  Despite blending them for a reasonable length of time, the gritty, sand-like seeds in the sorbet meant the excellent flavor was ruined by the unfortunate texture.

Fresh Blackberry Sorbet (★★☆☆☆)
Might work better with large, juicy farm berries, but still not something I’d recommend based on the gritty texture added by the berry seeds.

1 lbs. of blackberries (half frozen, half refrigerated)
Raw honey (approximately 3-4 tablespoons)
Ice

Freeze half the blackberries in advance.  Then put the blackberries and two cups of ice in the blender.  Blend on medium to high, using the tamper and adjusting the blender intensity to ensure everything is well mixed.  Add approximately three tablespoons of honey and taste.  Sorbet can be sweetened with additional honey or diluted with additional ice.  Serve immediately.

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It looked good and had nice flavor, but it’s not something I’ll be making again.   Neither this nor the berry juice I made last year seem to be great uses of the berries.  Maybe I’ll come up with a great recipe involving the berries and Vitamix next summer.

Iced Coffee Polar Cup / Shave Ice (★★☆☆☆)

In the summer, we keep our thermostat pretty high, and frozen treats taste that much better as a result.  In fact, when I come in on a hot day, pretty much anything frozen is a treat.

That’s basically way I keep putting coffee, mostly decaf, in ice trays and blending them in the Vitamix 7500.  The 7500 basically turns them into coffee ice dust, and the blender container has enough surface area that an entire tray ends up as powder without any chunks or slush left to circulate in the blades.

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I don’t bother adding anything else, I just consider it a different way to have a black ice coffee on a hot day.  Surprisingly, both my kids occasionally help me eat them as well, despite the flavor being just black coffee.  I wouldn’t be all that surprised if I’m the only one who likes it as much as I do, which is why I’ve rated it so low, but I’ve already made this a dozen times this summer, and it’s really grown on me.

It probably doesn’t need to be spelled out as a recipe, but on the off chance that it might help someone, here goes:

Iced Coffee Snowcones / Shave Ice (★★☆☆☆)
As with fruit bars, you need a stronger flavor in the frozen treat than you do in the liquid drink.  When I’m making a pot of coffee, I’ll add a little bit coffee more than I normally would, and as soon as there’s enough coffee to fill two ice trays, I’ll fill the trays and put them in the fridge.

1 tray of coffee ice cubes

Throw the whole tray in the blender and start it at 10.  Let it spin until basically nothing is making contact with the blades, which won’t take long, then turn the blender off.  (If you go past 30 seconds, you’re dealing with a different tray of ice cubes.)  Use a spatula to scoop all the snow from the container and lid into the bowl.  (A reasonable amount will be on the bottom of the lid.) If you’re in a warm room, the snow in each corner will already start clumping together, as you can see in the photo above.

Enjoy!


Edit: Iced Coffee Snowcones / Shave Ice with Sweetened Condensed Milk (★★★★☆)
Want to make this a valid tasty treat that you can serve to others?  Drizzle it with sweetened condensed milk and/or caramel sauce.  I personally prefer just sweetened condensed milk.

Why would I spend so much money on a Vitamix Blender?

I definitely understand how crazy it sounds to some people to spend three figures on a blender. I deliberated myself for a few weeks before I finally decided to buy my first Vitamix blender, and I started this blender blog in part to make sure I kept using the blender.

Two years later, I have no regrets, and would encourage people who are on the fence to buy a Vitamix. In this post, I’ll try to articulate the reasons I think a Vitamix blender is worth the price, focusing on some key points and sharing my personal experiences.

 

Extremely High Performance Blender

Almost everyone would agree that Vitamix makes phenomenal blenders. Impartial reviews universally praise the Vitamix. One such example is a blender showdown by Popular Mechanics, where the Vitamix 5200 had the smoothest results of the five manufacturers that were tested, and Vitamix shares the top spot in the most recent Consumer Reports blender rankings.

Yes, there are other high performance blenders available, but it’s good to be aware of difference between an average blender you might find at a big box store and a high quality, high powered blender. Peanut butter and hummus made with fresh sesame seeds instead of tahini paste are examples of things that you just can’t make in your average blender.

But even if you’re not interested in making something that demanding, the texture difference between an inexpensive blender and a high powered blender is profound. Something as simple as a frozen banana and milk or ice cubes and fresh fruit is amazing with the right texture. I love Hawaiian shave ice, or as it’s called in Japan, かき氷 (kakigori), but I have virtually no interest in snow cones, and the only difference is texture. Whether it’s frozen treats, soups, dips or sauces, if the texture is better, the end results tastes better.

 

Extremely Good Customer Service

I have killed my fair share of less expensive blenders. The ice cubes and frozen bananas I mentioned above that blend in my Vitamix have both been culprits in the early demise of cheaper blenders. Most, if not all, of those blenders probably had a one-year warranty, and broke inside the first year. I didn’t have any of them replaced with their warranty because I have jumped through similar hoops with other household products (most recently an electric blanket) and it usually ends up being more hassle than it’s worth, even if you did keep the receipt.

I will admit, I have a very low tolerance for automated call centers that ask me to enter model numbers with my touch tone phone and/or it require navigating multiple menus and a lengthy hold time before speaking with a representative reading from a script.

One of the reasons I purchased my Vitamix is because of the experience I had when I first called them to ask a few questions about their blender while I was on the fence. I almost immediately spoke with a real person who was very knowledgeable and answered all of my questions and concerns. I felt like, if I ever did have an issue with my blender, they would actually take care of me.

Sure enough, they did. I’ve actually had two issues with my blender, and both times, I was shocked with how good Vitamix’s service was.

My first issue, which is detailed in this post, was likely something I was partially responsible for, as I was throwing peanut butter, mochi, squash and a lot of other tough ingredients in the blender to see what it could handle. When a piece of the blender finally broke, I called Vitamix. I spoke with a representative who explained the piece that broke was designed to break under high stress to protect the rest of the blender.  She sent me out a prepaid shipping label to send everything back to VitaMix at no charge.

Less than two weeks later, I had my repaired blender back, along with a brand new blender jar, and it hadn’t cost me a dime, only a few minutes on the phone.

I was very impressed, but my second experience with Vitamix support was even better. I liked my Vitamix so much that I bought a Vitamix 7500, planning to give my 5200 to my parents for Christmas. I stuck the wrong tamper into the 7500 blender running on high and, well, there’s a picture over in this old post that’s worth a thousand words.

I called Vitamix with a mea culpa, explaining that I had done something very dumb, damaging both the blade assembly and my tamper, expecting to pay to fix one or both damaged items. Not only did Vitamix support say they would replace both under warranty, but when I explained that I was heading to Florida soon for Christmas, and that I was bringing the 5200, without blinking, the woman I was speaking with asked for my parents’ address, saying they’d try to get the tamper to my parents’ house before Christmas, and would send the blade assembly for the new blender to my house so it’d be waiting when I got back home.

In January of this year, when I was able to get a Pro 300 for free from work, they let me return my 7500 without any trouble, paying for the return shipping.  I cannot think of another company with customer service that can hold a candle to those three experiences.

 

Extremely Long Warranty

Vitamix’s standard warranty is seven years. Those customer service stories I shared above? They’re even more amazing when you consider that you are covered for seven years when you buy a new Vitamix blender. Even when you buy a reconditioned blender from Vitamix, it comes with a 5-year warranty, standard.

 

Extremely Long History

One of things that surprised me about my Vitamix is that is made in the USA. I just checked, and it is the only kitchen appliance in my house that is made in the USA, and even states proudly on the label that it is “made with a minimum of 70% U.S.A. content.” (I have a high quality Zojirushi rice cooker that is made in Japan, but outside of my rice cooker and Vitamix, every other appliance in my kitchen is, you guessed it, made in China.)

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Vitamix was founded in America three generations ago back when high quality kitchen appliances were built in America and built to last. They’re actually still making high quality kitchen appliances in America that are built to last.

Their current president is the great-grandson of the founder, and no blender manufacturer has been around as long, or been as focused on blenders, as Vitamix. That seven year warranty I mentioned above provides that much more piece of mind when you realize that seven years is less than a tenth of the company’s history.

 

Extremely Good Controls

Maybe this doesn’t deserve it’s own subheading, and what I’m about to go into is certainly personal preference, but I want to mention the controls. I’ve had more than one person ask me about the analog dial and switches compared to other blenders with presets and buttons.

My parents replaced there older electric stove top with a new one with an LCD that offers, L, 2-9 and H for each burner. They like it, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who prefer that, but I very much prefer having my natural gas stove, and the analog controls that go with it. That’s how I feel about the controls on my Vitamix. I don’t want to press a button with the assumption that 60 seconds is the right amount of time for the texture I’m looking for, I’d rather have control over the strength and duration.

The pulse option of the 7500 is a nice feature I occasionally use, but even if I went back to using a 5200, I’d prefer those controls over something just buttons and presets. (This is coming from a computer nerd.)  My view point is obviously not universal, as Vitamix offers more than one version of the 7500/Pro 300 that does have presets.

 

Should everyone go out and buy a blender this expensive and this nice? Absolutely not. I’m one of those people that falls into the category of regular blender user and I think it’s a wonderful kitchen appliance for people who will use it regularly.

When my family moved from Japan to America after the March 11th earthquake, we had to get rid of all our electrical appliances that wouldn’t work with American voltage, which included the blender my wife had gotten me as a gift years earlier.  She bought me a nice blender because I told her about my history of killing cheap ones making frozen drinks.  The one blender she had bought me in Japan survived more frozen drinks than all the blenders I had gone through in high school and college.

The satisfaction I derived from using a quality blender in Japan, contrasted with the frustrations of dealing with blenders jamming, breaking and leaving chunks pushed me to finally spending the money to buy a nice blender in the states. I was worried that I’d regret the decision, to the point that I started this blog to maximize the chances I wouldn’t, which is ironic, because years later, the reason the blog has seen the 50+ posts that it has is because it’s one of my favorite purchases.

My uncle has an impressive collection of high quality tools. His motto on quality products is: “You can cheap out on a tool, and regret the decision every time the tool breaks or isn’t up to a task. Or, you can spend the extra money on a quality tool, where you might feel some regret when you first pay for it, but every time you go to use that tool after that, you’ll be glad you have it.”

I think that sums it up pretty well.

 

If you are wondering whether the 7500 or 5200 is right for you, I recommend this post: Is the Vitamix 7500 worth the extra money?
Buying a Vitamix on a budget?  I talk about the refurbished option in this post:  How to get a Vita-Mix 7500 (for a great price!)
If you do decide to buy a Vitamix, I recommend buying direct from Vitamix.com.

What is the difference between a Vitamix 7500 and a Vitamix Professional Series 300?

I am now the owner of a new Vitamix Professional Series 300!  My company has a rewards program that allowed me to get a Vitamix Professional Series 300, and it was far more interesting to me than any of my other options.  Now, I had just recently purchased a Vitamix 7500, but I called Vitamix and confirmed that they would allow me to return my Vitamix 7500, which means I could get essentially the same blender I bought in October, without spending money on it!

Vitamix 7500 (left) and Professional Series 300 (right)

My Vitamix 7500 (on the left) and Professional Series 300 (on the right)

Now, before talk about the similarities of the 7500 and Professional Series 300 in any detail, I want to say again how impressed with Vitamix I am.  They have seriously impressed me in the past, and returning my Vitamix 7500 was another example of service where I could not have been more impressed.

In addition to allowing me to keep the cutting boards and spatula they sent as gifts with the Vitamix 7500, they even sent me a return label, which means I paid nothing, not even shipping when buying or returning the 7500.  (I used coupon code 06-006651 when I bought the blender, which gave me free shipping.)  And my return experience is not nearly as impressive as my earlier experience that I linked to above, but it’s yet another case where I could not have asked for better service at any point in dealing with Vitamix.  (More specifically, it was Brenda Kilbane at Vitamix who made buying this and returning this a breeze.  Here’s her information, if anyone is interested in speaking to her:  1-800-848-2649, extension 2305, and use the 06-006651 coupon code for free shipping.)

Now, on to talking about the similarities of the Vitamix 7500 and the Professional Series 300. They are, for all practical purposes, the same blender base, container, tamper and lid.  The faceplate itself comes in different colors, and the name written on the faceplate is different, but that really is it as far as I can tell.

The only meaningful differences between the two are what you get with the blender, and even that’s very similar:

The cookbook, getting started guide and owner's manual for the Professional Series 300 and Vitamix 7500

The cookbook, getting started guide and owner’s manual for the Professional Series 300 (left) and Vitamix 7500 (right).

Honestly, I never opened the cookbook for the 7500 because I already had the 5200’s excellent Whole Food Recipes cookbook, and I didn’t want to open the shrink wrap once I knew I was returning it.  That said, a simple visual comparison shows that the Professional Series is a larger book:

The cookbooks you get with various Vitamix blenders

The “create” book that comes with the Professional Series 300 book on the left, the “simply fresh” book that comes with the Vitamix 7500 on the right, with the Whole Food Recipes book the Vitamix 5200 comes with behind them.

Yes, the Professional Series 300’s cookbook is larger (354 pages), and it is a nice hardcover book, complete with both a jacket, and nice silver embossed text under the hardcover jacket, but I don’t know that I would recommend spending the extra money on the 300 unless someone really wanted the nicer cookbook.*

As for the existence of two extremely similar blenders sets under two different names?  That doesn’t seem to be anything new for Vitamix.  The precursor to the Professional Series 300 was a Professional Series 200, which looks identical to the Vitamix 5200, and when I first bought my first Vitamix blender (which I later gave to my parents), it was then sold as a reconditioned 5200, but was actually had the “Creations II” name on the blender body faceplate.  (Today that reconditioned option is still available, but it’s now called the Certified Reconditioned , and I still think it’s the best bang for your buck if you’re looking at getting a Vitamix blender, especially if you’re only looking at the 5200 anyway.)

I hope that’s helpful for anyone who, like me, was wondering what the differences were. My 7500 is in a UPS truck on it’s way back to Vitamix, and aside from the difference in faceplate color, I don’t anticipate noticing any differences with my new Vitamix Professional Series 300.

*The price difference is based on the difference in price at Vitamix.com, with the assumption that you’d be ordering from Vitamix.com directly. Vitamix.com is the most affordable way to order a new 7500 that I’ve found, and includes free shipping.

Update (3/23/2013): In addition to the refurbished 5200 I mentioned, there is now a refurbished 7500/Pro 300/Creations Elite available. I wrote a post about it, and I think it’s a fantastic option to consider for anyone thinking about picking up a Vitamix.

Mom and Dad’s Christmas Present

gift wrapped Vita-Mix 5200

Can you guess what I gave my parents for Christmas?

Why is there no tamper?  You can read the reason behind that here.

I kept my Vitamix 7500, and gave my old 5200 to my parents for Christmas.

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