Posts Tagged ‘ Banana Milk ’

Warm weather, bike rides and frozen Banana Milk (★★★★★)

It’s warm out!  After that last winter, I’m ecstatic to finally be out riding my bike and not be trapped inside any more.

I love frozen drinks, and the summer is the best time of the year for them.  Hands down the best thing to enjoy after a reasonable workout is a frozen Banana Milk.  It’s brain dead simple to make with a Vitamix:

Banana Milk (★★★★★)
The best way to cool down and get your body what it needs after a workout

1 frozen banana
milk

Break the banana in two and put it in the blender, then add milk to achieve your desired consistency.  I prefer the consistency of an easily drinkable milkshake.  It’s very important to use the tamper when making this to avoid having any banana chunks remaining.  I find I get the best results when I blend it on high for about 20-30 seconds using the tamper while blending, then check the consistency, adding more milk if needed, and then blending for another 20-30 seconds before serving.

For the absolutely best tasting Banana Milk, I personally prefer a 60:40 mix of whole milk from a local farm and soy milk.  But just milk and banana is the easiest way to make it.  All I have to do is remember to throw a banana in the freezer before I go on a long ride.


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Making a Banana Milk in the Vitamix Pro 300 and Blendtec DesignerSeries side-by-side (with video)

Back when I bought my first Vitamix, a 5200, one of the very first things I made, and one of the reasons I bought it, was Banana Milk.  Basically, blend a frozen banana and milk.  Made correctly, it’s awesome.  Unfortunately, it will eventually (or quickly) break normal (weaker) blenders, and getting the entire banana blended so there are no chunks left takes time or a good blender.

Banana Milk is a pretty demanding test for any blender, so when I bought my 7500 back in 2012, I compared it to the 5200 by making a Banana Milk in both blenders simultaneously:  Making a Banana Milk in the Vitamix 7500 and Vitamix 5200 side-by-side (with video)

Not long after that video, unique circumstances lead me to get a Professional Series 300 and returning my 7500, though the two blenders are essentially identical.  That is the blender that I have been using regularly for a little over a year now.

Exactly one week ago I got a Blendtec Designer Series, and while I broke out my camera to document the physical differences (Physical Comparison: Vitamix Professional Series 300 vs. Blendtec Designer Series) between the two blenders, I was far more interested how their performance compares, and that’s what I set out to by making a Banana Milk in both the Pro 300 and Designer Series.

Last time, I subjected both blenders to an overly grueling test, as I did not include as much milk as I normally would, and did not use the tamper.  You can watch that video if you want to see how a Pro 300 or 7500 performs without a tamper, so I thought I would use a tamper this time to reflect how I normally make Banana Milks in the Vitamix.

While I documented the various run times of the pre-programmed cycles on the Blendtec, I hadn’t actually used them before this video, so I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but the Smoothie cycle seemed stronger and longer than the Milkshake, so that is what I decided I would use for the Blendtec.

As you’ll see in the video, in addition to preparing equal amount of milk and equal sized bananas that were frozen in my refrigerator over several hours, I took four kids cups from Moe’s and wrote B on the bottom of two and V on the bottom of the other two, the idea being that I would mix two glasses of the Banana Milk made by the Blendtec and two glasses made by the Vitamix and mix them all so that even I didn’t know which was which, and see if I could tell the difference between the two.  Watch the video to see how the actual mixing went:

The Blendtec pre-programmed blend was definitely not up to the task, and even on various manual settings, I could not find a good setting that effectively blended the banana.  As I noted in my physical comparison, the Blendtec has two large, dull blades, while the Vitamix sports four sharp blades.  It seems that the combination of the blades and blender container design make the Vitamix more effective at blending a large, thoroughly frozen banana with milk.  Another side effect of using the Blendtec that have noticed in my limited use is that the Blendtec seems to more effectively heat the mix it is blending than the Vitamix.  That could be great for soup, but it’s not great when I’m blending something frozen and the Blendtec already needs to significantly longer to blend.

So what were the results after the camera stopped rolling?

The Blendtec was warmer, still had large chunks of unblended banana, and lacked the whipped, rich, creamy consistency that makes Banana Milk such a treat.  The Vitamix wasn’t perfect, there was a very small chunk I missed, as I was trying to pour the Vitamix glasses a tad earlier than I normally would, in anticipation of the Blendtec being ready to pour at the end of it’s 40 second cycle (the Blendtec does count down it’s cycle in seconds on the LCD panel, which is a nice touch), but it turned out the Blendtec was nowhere near ready to pour.

Yes, it’s a disappointing result for the Blendtec, but it’s very likely the Blendtec Smoothie program is not the best way to make Banana Milk.  As with the issue that I had trying to use the Blendtec to make powdered parmesan cheese like I do with my Vitamix, it’s likely that part of the issue is my lack of familiarity with the Blendtec.   I’ll move on and try some of my other favorite recipes and I’m looking forward to hopefully finding some areas where the Blendtec shines.

The Best Tasting Banana Milk (★★★★★)

I have a lot of posts about Banana Milk.  15 entries that precede this one mention Banana Milk, but none that specifically list it as a recipe the way I’d recommend it to someone today, so here that is:

The Best Tasting Banana Milk (★★★★★)
The best tasting Banana Milk I know how to make

1 frozen banana
milk
soymilk

Add a mix of approximately half milk and half soy milk, along with the banana, to the blender jar, adding enough milk/soymilk to blend the banana into a creamy, milkshake like consistency.  It’s very important to use the tamper when making this to avoid having any banana chunks remaining.  I find I get the best results when I blend it on high for about 20-30 seconds using the tamper while blending, then check the consistency, adding more milk if needed, and then blending for another 20-30 seconds before serving.

You can adjust the milk/soymilk ratio as you like, I tend to like a little more milk than soymilk in the mix, but I definitely prefer the mix of milk and soy milk to either just milk or just soy milk.

As someone who owned the Vitamix 5200 and now owns and uses the Vitamix 7500/Pro 300, there is small difference in making Banana Milk with the two.  (I made a post with a video of me making Banana Milk in both.)  With the wider 7500/Pro 300 blender, I find it’s easier to make Banana Milk when you’re making two bananas worth, but you can absolutely do it with just one.  Unlike with the 5200, there’s no real benefit from breaking the banana into two pieces before putting it in the blender jar.

Is the Vitamix 7500 worth the extra money?

I received the following comments on one of my YouTube videos:

nice video. I’m very happy with my 5200 which I purchased at costco for a good price. I don’t plan on getting the 7500 but do you think it’s worth the extra money? great video and looking forward to more.

The answer to that question is a qualified “yes”.  (Obviously, the biggest qualification is how much “extra money” someone’s paying for the 7500.)

To give better context to my answer, I thought I’d share my updated feedback on the Vitamix claims for the 7500 that I originally shared in a post back in September:

  • Greater than 2 horsepower motor to process dense ingredients with ease

Yes, the Vitamix 7500 does process dense ingredients with ease. I still don’t care about the horsepower number, as I’m just interested in how the blender actually performs.  That said, it definitely performs.  The original hummus recipe that came in the 5200 cookbook instructs you to “Blend for 1 minute, using the tamper to push the ingredients into the blades while processing.”  The Roasted Red Pepper Hummus recipe that comes in the recipe book for the 7500 uses the exact same instructions, but when I made hummus with the 5200, I found the tamper to be necessary.  When I make the same hummus with the 7500, not only is the tamper not necessary, but the way the hummus blends, it’s clear that it’s all being processed evenly.  The sesame seeds I use are completely blended and the texture is excellent.  Even in my first attempt, the tamper was not necessary to make a Banana Milk in the 7500, and carrots and similar vegetables blend in the 7500 smoothly where the tamper and water were needed for the 5200.

Simply put, the tamper stayed in the 5200 lid when not in use because I needed it more often than not, but the tamper isn’t needed for the vast majority of the same recipes when I use the 7500.

  • Vibration dampening technology for noticeably quieter performance

Yes, it is noticeably quieter.  As I answered in the comments section of an earlier post, the 7500 is definitely quieter than the 5200, even at full speed.  At lower speeds, the difference is significant, but at it’s highest speed the difference is definitely not huge, and would be very low on the list of improvements the 7500 has that I’m appreciative of.

  • Ultra-responsive Variable Speed Dial and pulse feature for precise recipe creation

The speed dial now offers speeds 1-10, and that’s it.  It used to be that you needed to dial from one to 10, and then flip the switch to high to blend at high speed.  That “High” switch has been replaced with a pulse switch.  This does make normal use slightly easier, as you need only deal with the dial.  While the instructions state to always start the blender at 1 (as with the 5200), in both normal use and when using the pulse switch, the powering on of the blender seems to automatically throttle itself on the 7500, and accidentally starting it on 10 or high doesn’t seem to have a negative impact on the 7500 as it did on the 5200.  (Full disclosure:  It’s so easy to use the blender without resetting to one every time that I left the lid off of some frozen pina coladas I was making when adding some stevia, and turned the blender back on [thinking it was set at one] while it was still at 10.  Only my face and dignity suffered, the blender had no problems spinning up to high speed.)

  • 64-ounce container designed to fit under most kitchen cabinets.

As I mentioned in my first post, I don’t really care about this.  I’m sure it’s nice for others, but it’s not why I upgraded.  There is an unexpected beneficial side effect that I’ll mention below.

Now, there are a few things not on the list above that I really like.  The biggest difference is the power switch on the side of the blender.  I don’t know whether the 5200 uses any more power than the 7500 while plugged in but not in use, but with two young kids, I appreciate the fact that the blender has an on/off switch that makes it substantially less likely that someone will accidentally turn it on.  The LED lights when the blender is on are a nice touch as well.

I’m also pleasantly surprised by the benefits of the wider blender container.  Part of the need for the tamper with the 5200 was the tendency of food like celery, carrots and frozen bananas to stay upright longer, requiring a longer blending time, and a large handful of leaves, such as spinach, could easily become stuck above the blades due to the narrow container.  The blender container on the 7500 means leaves fall into the blades and vegetables that would stay horizontal in the 5200 longer fall into the blades quicker on the 7500.

Now, I recognize that most people aren’t going to want to spend +$500 on a blender, but the Vitamix 5200 is not that much cheaper, so if you’re willing to pay for a new 5200, I would recommend buying the 7500 if you can afford it.  If someone is weighing their option between a refurbished 5200 and a full price 7500, I would say it comes down to how much you’re willing to spend and how much that extra bit of performance is important to you.  As I mentioned in my last post, if you’re somehow able to find someplace that has sells Vitamixs that has a 20% coupon that doesn’t exclude Vitamixs, that could be a better deal than buying from Vitamix.com.  But in my experience, and current prices at Vitamix.com, I’d say the answer to whether the Vitamix 7500 is worth the extra money depends on whether you view the refurbished 5200 (or a great 5200 Costco deal, as the commenter above found) as the best bang-for-your-buck.  If you’re willing to spend the extra money on the 7500, I definitely believe it is the best home consumer blender you can buy, and a noticeable improvement over the 5200.

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.

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