Posts Tagged ‘ Blendtec Vs. Vitamix comparison ’

Blender Usage Update (Vitamix Vs. Blendtec)

Over four months have passed since I got my newest blender, a Blendtec Designer Series in January.  I got my Professional Series 300 a year before that in January 2013, although I had two Vitamix blenders before that.  I still tend to use the Vitamix the most, but I’ve got over 120 mixes clocked in on the Blendtec, and I figure it deserves an update on what I’ve found it well suited for, and what I use the Vitamix for.

The Blendtec has proven very useful for Matcha Milk Frozen Drink and frozen sports drinks.  Because the blender won’t mix properly without the right balance of ice and water, it’s easy to know if I need to add more milk to the matcha mix or water to the ice and powered sports drink.  It’s also easy to hit the button to start the blender mixing, and then put away the milk or Super VAAM sports drink powder or whatever other ingredients I have while it’s mixing.  The blender has a tendency to start dancing off to the left while mixing at high speeds on my counter tops, but there’s a hot water pot that keeps it from jumping off the counter.

The smaller Blendtec Twister Jar is also great for sauces, whipped cream, and very small mixes.  It sounds like it might also be significantly better suited for making peanut butter than the larger container, but I need to eat our existing peanut butter before I make more.  Sadly, neither Blendtec jar, nor any Vitamix I’ve had has done a great job as a coffee grinder, so while these blenders can do a lot more than a traditional blender, they’re no replacement for a coffee bean grinder.

As for soups, green smoothies, sorbets and similar thick mixes, I find it extremely satisfying to mash away with the tamper while blending.  The Vitamix is also great for the right texture on frozen smoothies and banana milks, and with its very sharp blades, I would trust it for Kinako Powder and almond powder.

I’m sure I’ll get more comfort with the Blendtec as time goes on, but I wanted to share my experiences and how I’m using both for anyone who might be interested.  If you have a specific question, please feel free to fire away in the comments.c

Advertisements

Homemade Peanut Butter (★★★★★) using the Blendtec Designer Series (with video)

I thought a good challenge for the Blendtec Designer Series might be peanut butter, as it is one of the recipes in the Blendtec Fresh Blends cookbook.  I made a post back in 2012 that included a video of me making peanut butter in my Vitamix 7500.  I used the same recipe for the Designer Series that I’ve used with my Vitamix over the past three years:

Homemade Peanut Butter (★★★★★)
Definitely not as sweet as store brand peanut butter, but my two children devour it

1 lbs. Bulk Dry Roasted Peanuts, Unsalted
3/4 Tbsp. Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup

Blend for one minute, and use the tamper to push the peanuts into the blades.  That’s it!

The difference here is that the Vitamix has a tamper and is not limited to 50 second cycles, so while I knew that the same ingredients should work, the method of mixing would need to be adjusted.  Here is what the Fresh Blends cookbook recommends:  “Add peanuts and salt to jar and secure lid. Press “Speed Up” to Speed 9 for remainder of cycle. Using a spatula, move peanuts towards center of jar, add oil and secure lid. press “Speed Up” button to Speed 3 and run full cycle. Stir and secure lid. Press “Speed Up” to Speed 5 and run full cycle.”

As you’ll see in the video below, the recommended steps don’t work as expected, but I try to follow the process recommended.

After recording, I tried the peanut butter, but it was not mixed nearly enough and the texture was somewhere between peanut butter and peanuts, so I mixed it again for a full cycle at Speed 5.  That left me with a hot, liquidy peanut butter that I could pour into a plastic container.  It now has a more smooth texture than I would normally prefer, but outside of texture, which is a substantial change, it tastes the same as the Vitamix blends I’ve been making.  It was still not set after sitting in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, but it firmed up, and by the next morning it was the consistency of the smooth peanut butter sold at grocery stores.

I am a bit surprised by how much more of a process it was to make peanut butter with the Blendtec than the Vitamix, but it certainly can be done, although I will probably stick to making future batches in my Vitamix Pro 300.

For anyone out there who is shopping for a powerful Vitamix or Blendtec blender, the best deals tends to be buying directly from either Blendtec or Vitamix, as Vitamix will give you free shipping at Vitamix.com, and Blendtec offers free shipping when visited through this link.  I also recently wrote a detailed post on how to choose the right Vitamix model.

Edit (04/08/2013): A Blendtec employee reached out to me after seeing my blog and this post and let me know that my Twister Jar is very well suited for dense mixes like peanut butter.  I will try that the next time I’m making peanut butter, and would be happy to hear from any Twister Jar owners that have made peanut butter with it.

Very Busy Blender Day (With both the Vitamix Pro 300 and the Blendtec Designer Series)

Yesterday will probably be the most blender usage my blenders see in a single day in 2014.  Less than two weeks ago, I received a Blendtec Designer Series blender, and while I took photos for a physical comparison of the new Blendtec and my Vitamix Professional Series 300. (The Pro 300 is basically the same as a 7500, a good explanation of the different models is here.) I was really looking forward to actually seeing how they performed side-by-side.

We invited a family we are close friends with over for breakfast, and they stayed for lunch as well. They knew I was excited about trying out my new blender, and I told them to bring over whatever they wanted to blend up in the blender, and that breakfast would be green smoothies and waffles.

The first thing I made was Whipped Cream, which I made in the Blendtec because of the Twister Jar, which was very well suited for the task.  The Blendtec does this better than the Vitamix.

After that, I made the first green smoothies of the day, Baby Kale, Peanut and Banana Green Smoothies, which I made in both blenders simultaneously.  The Vitamix edged out the Blendtec with better texture and less heating during blending.

After that, my friend chopped up a bunch of fresh, organic fruits he’d picked up.  His wife instructed him to pick up frozen organic fruits, and he couldn’t find frozen organic fruit, so he assumed fresh organic fruit would be fine.  A bunch of ice and fruit were added to the Vitamix with reasonably good results as a Frozen Fruit Smoothie, but then made a little too sweet when sweetened vanilla yogurt was added to the mix.  (Frozen fruit and unsweetened yogurt with less ice would have been fantastic.  It’s pretty much impossible to mix frozen fruit, plain yogurt and water/ice and not end up with a great drink.)

After the frozen fruit smoothie experiment, I decided to make my Homemade Frozen Mocha Drink for them, but my ice cube tray broke recently, so I had a giant frozen chunk of coffee, which gave both the Blendtec and the Vitamix difficulties, though the tamper and time were eventually enough to get the frozen coffee into the blades instead of bouncing on top of them.   I left out the stevia, which made it less sweet than normal, since getting back from Japan, I’m on a bit of a bitter is good kick, so I enjoyed it better that way, and my friends both seemed to enjoy the drink a lot.

For lunch, my wife threw together a tomato and cream sauce for some pasta that helped some of the baby kale we’d bought.  I decided to make some Powdered Parmesan, which I used the Vitamix for, as I know it excels there, while my experience with the Blendtec was not as good.

As a drink, I made a Mild Baby Kale Green Smoothie to go with lunch that was excellent, but as that was the green smoothie equivalent of throwing all your leftovers into a pot and finding out they make amazing soup, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to replicate that drink, even though it was the best kale based green smoothie I have had to date.

As my friend was leaving he realized that he left a four pound bag of juicing oranges in our kitchen, and told us to put them to good use, as he bought them specifically to try blending them.  My wife and I did peel and blend them, but I can’t say that qualifies as good use.  After having made Fresh Oranges Applesauce, I now understand why freshly blended oranges are not a thing.

To wrap up the day, and to make a relatively easy dinner, I made Butternut Squash Soup for dinner, making reasonable sized batches in both blenders simultaneously, instead of cramming everything it the Pro 300 like I normally do.  To help heat the soup up, I did mix both batches in a Blendtec for one soup cycle, but as you can read in that post, the smell the blender gave off is making me think twice about trying that again.

So that’s it.  Not a bad Saturday of blending.  What do I think about the Blendtec?  I’m definitely still learning.  I don’t like when water comes out of the lid during a cleaning cycle, hits the LCD panel, and stops the cleaning cycle I was running it through, nor am I thrilled at the smell when running a very large patch of soup through a second soup cycle in a short period of time.  But those can be chalked up to user error or misuse.

I’ve written before about why I love Vitamix, and why I would spend so much money on a Vitamix blender, and I can’t say I’m there yet for the Blendtec, but I can already see a few things it does better, such as whipped cream or heating soup while blending.

For the budget minded, you can get a Factory Re-certified Blendtec Total Blender Classic Series for $20 less than a Vitamix Certified Reconditioned Standard, which is basically the 5200 model, and the warranty for the Blendtec is 7 years, while the warranty for the Vitamix is 5 years.  (Note that you can get a $0.00 shipping option through the Blendtec link above, and the Vitamix link includes provides free shipping, both of which are the cheapest ways to get a Blendtec or Vitamix with a 5+ year warranty.)  At that price, I can see the slightly cheaper, includes a longer warranty, fits better under a cabinet and includes programs arguments adding up to a compelling reason to consider the Blendtec option very strongly.

For me, it’s been years since I purchased my refurbished 5200, and I’ve already come to terms with the fact that I use my blender enough to justify buying the blender I want the most.  Which, as of today, is the 7500 model. (Also sold as the Professional Series 300 and Creations Elite)  That said, the Blendtec is still very new to me, and I plan to continue to use it again and again, in hopes of having a much better understanding of its strengths and weakness, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of my Vitamix.  I’ll probably post another evaluation of each in a few months as pricing, and my understanding of each blender, changes.

Anything I should know about the Blendtec Designer Series?  Anything you’d like me to blend?  Let me know in the comments!

Butternut Squash Soup (★★★★★)

I decided to wrap up what will probably be my busiest day of blender usage in 2014 with homemade soup for dinner.  I’ve made Acorn Squash Soup enough times over the last three years that I know how I like it, and I know what to expect, so when I asked my wife to pick up the ingredients we’d need for Acorn Squash soup, I was surprised when she came back with butternut squash instead.  She picked up butternut squash saying she thought it’d be interesting, and I’m glad she did.

I’d actually never prepared butternut squash before, so I found a great guide that helped me figure out how to prepare both the squash and the seeds.  I roasted the butternut squash as cubes, which gave me plenty of time to boil and then roast the seeds, which turned out much better than I expected.

This was going to be dinner for my family of four, so instead of making a double sized batch of soup, as I’ve done in the past, I decided it’d be interesting to make on batch in my new Blendtec Designer Series blender, and another in my Vitamix Professional Series 300. (The Pro 300 is basically the same as a 7500, a good explanation of the different models is here.)

Regarding the recipe, over the years, my soup recipe has gradually evolved from the original Acorn Squash Soup recipe into what I make today, and I recognize that my current version is based on my personal preferences, but if you’re a fan of richer soups and squash, I think you’ll really like this.

Butternut Squash Soup (★★★)
This recipe can be doubled, which allows you to use an entire squash when making it.  It works very well with Acorn Squash as well, and tremendously aided by quality milk, so for the best possible soup, make this with fresh, in-season squash and local farm milk.

1/2 butternut squash
1 large bouillion cubes (2 cups of broth worth of bouillon cubes)
2 cups of whole milk
1 teaspoons of maple syrup
pinch of nutmeg (to taste)
cinnamon stick pieces (to taste)
pinch of extra virgin, first cold pressed olive oil
a sliver of fresh ginger
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)

I prepared the butternut squash by cubing and roasting it, using the guide I linked to above.  I roasted the cubes for somewhere between 30 and 40 minutes at 400, during which time I was able to boil and then roast the squash seeds, and then prepare the blender with the rest of the ingredients above.

With everything else in the blender and ready for the squash, I take the hot squash cubes straight out of the oven and put them into the blender.  For the Blendtec Designer Series, I use the 90 second soup cycle, and for the Vitamix, I blend on 10 with the tamper for that same 90 seconds, both of which should be sufficient.

Taste.  Add nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon to taste and blend.  Then add salt and pepper to taste and blend.  May need to be heated further in a pot before serving.

One of the things I was very interested in as I made this was how the two blenders would handle the same soup.  I tried to set things up to be as equal as possible:

Preparing both blenders for Butternut Squash Soup

Preparing both blenders for Butternut Squash Soup

Adding equal amount of squash to both mixes

Adding equal amount of squash to both mixes

Blending the soup in both the Blendtec Design Series (left) and Vitamix (right)

Blending the soup in both the Blendtec Design Series (left) and Vitamix Pro 300 (right)

When both mixes were complete, I asked my wife to try them both.  She said the Vitamix tasted more fluffy, but I noticed that the Blendtec soup tasted warmer.  Wanting to warm the soup up just a tad more before serving, I decided to add the Vitamix batch to the Blendtec, which I didn’t anticipate to be a problem, because that’s how much I normally make in the Vitamix when I make squash soup these days.

Running both batches of soup through a second soup cycle in the Blendtec Designer Series

Running both batches of soup through a second soup cycle in the Blendtec Designer Series

Running the Blendtec through a second soup cycle, I began to smell an electric, or motor burning smell.  The Blendtec completed it’s entire cycle, but odor that was given off makes me think that the large amount of soup coupled with running the soup cycle twice in a short period of time (it’s the longest and highest speed of any of the presets) was taxing the Blendtec a bit more than I’d be comfortable to subject it to on a regular basis, based on the odor it was giving off.  It did heat the soup, and between the heat created by the blenders and the heat of the squash, the soup did not need any additional heating before being served.

The soup was delicious, and my wife commented that it has a less distinct flavor than that Acorn Squash Soup, and that it seems like it would appeal to a large group of people as a result.  It was very filling, and the next time I’m looking for a squash for soup, I’ll choose whatever acorn squash or butternut squash is the most in-season, as this recipe works very well with either!

Baby Kale, Peanut and Banana Green Smoothie (★★★☆☆)

We had friends over today for breakfast who stayed for lunch.  I told them to bring over whatever they wanted to blend up in the blender, and that breakfast would be green smoothies and waffles.   I was looking forward to mixing things in both the my new Blendtec Designer Series and my tried and true Vitamix Professional Series 300. (The Pro 300 is basically the same as a 7500, a good explanation of the different models is here.)

The first thing I made was whipped cream for the waffles.  Following that, I decided to make a green smoothie using baby kale, based on a recipe I received from a co-worker.  I am not a fan of kale, but I wanted to change that.  My coworker makes this green smoothie regularly in a Health Master her husband received as a gift using extra water and peanut butter and cinnamon powder instead of peanuts and cinnamon sticks, and leaving out the flax seeds.

I’ll go into more detail on how the two blenders matched up below, but here’s the recipe for anyone who’s interested:

Baby Kale, Peanut and Banana Green Smoothie (★★★☆☆)
The ingredients go well together, and the results is one of the most drinkable kale based green smoothies I have had.  I do not have a high degree of confidence in the ratios of the ingredients below, but the ingredients themselves work well together.

2 medium handfuls of baby kale
1 large banana
3-4 tablespoons of unsalted peanuts
cinnamon stick pieces (to taste)
2 tablespoons of flax seeds
ice and water (approximately 16oz, half ice, half water)

I used the smoothie button on the Blendtec, and used the tamper on speed 10 on the Vitamix Pro 300.  I started the Vitamix just after the Blendtec, turning it off just before the 40 second smoothie program ended.

The smoothie itself was a little better than I was expecting, but not as interesting to me as how the Blendtec would compare to the Vitamix.

I tried to make both sets of ingredients as equal as possible:

Getting ready to make Baby Kale, Peanut and Banana Green Smoothies in both blenders simultaneously

Getting ready to make Baby Kale, Peanut and Banana Green Smoothies in both blenders simultaneously

Adding ice to both blenders

Adding ice to both the Designer Series (left) and Professional Series 300 (right)

I broke out both the two “B” and two “V” cups that I made for blind taste testing the Banana Milk I made in my first side-by-side test of the two blenders, and served the green smoothie to my guests, and got two votes for the Vitamix with texture the only reason that either friend could articulate. I noticed that the Blendtec mix was slightly warmer, which is a trend I’m seeing, an issue that could be easily rectified in this recipe by using more ice and less water. Regardless, the difference between the blenders for this particular mix is small.

Whipped Cream in the Blendtec Twister Jar (★★★★★)

We had friends over today for breakfast who stayed for lunch.  I told them to bring over whatever they wanted to blend up in the blender, and that breakfast would be green smoothies and waffles.   I was looking forward to mixing things in both the my new Blendtec Designer Series and my tried and true Vitamix Professional Series 300.  (The Pro 300 is basically the same as a 7500, a good explanation of the different models is here.)

The first thing I made was whipped cream.  I mentioned in this post that I thought the Twister Jar could be a great small batches, and the Fresh Blends book actually had a great recipe for whipped cream, so I thought I’d try both out.  The Fresh Blends instructions say to blend, then use a spatula to scrape the whip cream off the sides of the jar, and then blend again, but since the Twister Jar includes a lid that is specifically made to scrape the sides of the jar as you blend, I used that lid with great results.

Whipped Cream in the Blendtec Twister Jar (★★★★★)
Not necessarily something you need a high powered blender for, but if you already have a Twister Jar and Blendtec Designer Series, this is an easy way to make whipped cream.

1 cup of whipping cream
1 tablespoon of powdered sugar

The recipe calls for vanilla extract as well, but I prefer to put vanilla extract in my waffle batter, so I stuck to just the two ingredients above, adding slightly less than a full tablespoon.

Use the Twister Jar with the Twister Lid (not the Twister Gripper Lid) and set the manual slider to power level 1, the slowest setting.  The Blendtec Designer Series automatically stops after 50 seconds, which is a great time to make sure that the lid is being used to get any cream off the sides of the jar.  Blend again for another 50 seconds, and the whipped cream should be whipped to a great texture.  Use the spectacula or a spatula to remove.

This is the first bona fide success I have had with the Blendtec that I have been unable to replicate with the Vitamix.  The smaller jar, thicker blade and scraping arms of the Twister Jar all seem to make a positive difference in making great whipped cream.

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.

Advertisements