Posts Tagged ‘ Professional Series 300 ’

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

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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!

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.

Physical Comparison: Vitamix Professional Series 300 vs. Blendtec Designer Series

I was holding off on using the Blendtec Designer Series I just got because I wanted to take some good comparison photos of it before I used it.  This post is going to attempt to detail what I see as the major physical similarities and differences between the Vitamix Professional Series 300 (as seen in this post, basically the same as the Vitamix 7500) and the Blendtec Designer Series.  These were the kind of details I would have been very happy to see back when I was shopping for a blender, so I dusted off my DSLR and combined my nerdy interest in blenders with my nerdy interest in photography in hopes that this post will be helpful for some people out there who are looking at these blenders.  (As a camera nerd, I made a conscious decision to take all photos SOOC, no post processing of any type has been done.)

Front and Top Views

The Blendtec Designer Series does a very good job of looking small and sleek. It is smaller than the Vitamix Pro 300, but looks smaller than it actually is. I do like the Blendtec touch panel, but I’m also a huge fan of the simplicity of the Vitamix design and ease of use.

Another thing I really like about the Vitamix is the physical power switch that kills the LED light, minimizes electricity usage when not in use and ensures the Blender won’t be accidently turned on. The Blendtec power button glows fairly brightly as long as it’s plugged in.

The front of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered off.

The front of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered off.

The front of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered off.

The front of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered on.

The top of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered on.

The top of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, both powered on.

Back View

One benefit of the larger Vitamix base is that the power cord can be completely wound into the base of the blender or fully extended. The Blendtec has the benefit of a smaller profile, and the cord length should work for most home users, but I definitely appreciated the ability to have a lengthen or shorten the power cord with the Vitamix by winding the excess cable into a guide in the bottom of the blender body.

The back of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, showing power cord lengths.

The back of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, showing power cord lengths.

The back of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, with power cords stored/tied.

The back of the Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series, with power cords stored/tied.

Container Blades

One thing that surprised me is how different the blades are. The first physical difference that jumped out when I was looking at these blenders is that the socket connecting the container to the blender body on the Vitamix is much larger than the Blendtec, but I doubt that has a major impact in how either blender performs. The blades, however, are a different story.

The Vitamix family of containers uses a four pronged blade that reminds me of a four-pointed shuriken with two of the four blades pointed up. And blades is the right term, as they are sharp enough to cut.

The Blendtec WildSide Jar and Twister Jar blades vary slightly from each other, the WildSide being larger, but they both have a two blade design. Don’t let the word blade fool you into assuming that they are sharp. They taper on the side of the blade that impacts food, but they are nowhere near as sharp as the Vitamix blades, which I am sure is intentional.

I expect the very different blade designs to have pros and cons for each blender, but don’t yet have enough experience with the Blendtec to know what those are.

The Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series sport very different blade designs.

The Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series sport very different blade designs.

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Containers

The Vitamix container includes measurements up to 64 oz (I’ve actually made double sized batches of hummus before, so it’s blended over 64 oz of hummus on more than one occassion).  The Blendtec book states that WildSide Jar has a volume of 90 fl oz, but for whatever reason only has measurements up to 36 fl oz.  The Blendtec Twister Jar has measurement lines up to 16 oz.  I’m almost certain the WildSide jar would be able to handle 48 oz of almost anything (if not everything) that I’d make in the Vitamix, so I took photos with 48 oz and 12 oz of water in each to show the various sizes.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series containers with 48oz of water.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series containers with 48oz of water.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series with 48oz of water.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series with 48oz of water.

Vitamix Compact 64oz container, Blendtec WildSide Jar and Twister Jar with 12oz of water.

Vitamix Compact 64oz container, Blendtec WildSide Jar and Twister Jar with 12oz of water.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series and Twister Jar with 12oz of water.

Vitamix Professional Series 300 and Blendtec Designer Series and Twister Jar with 12oz of water.

Cookbooks

Both the Vitamix cookbooks are larger and thicker at first glance, so if you’re rating them based on how impressive they look on a bookshelf, the Vitamix books win that comparison. I’ve always been a fan of the Whole Foods book that came with the
5200 because of it’s ability to turn the cover into a stand and easily reference a recipe while using the blender.  The Professional Series 300 comes with a nice large hardcover book, but I’m more interested in the contents than anything else, so I’m looking forward to digging into the Fresh Blends book that comes with the Blendtec Designer Series, which apparently has more than 200 recipes.

The cookbooks that come with (from left to right) the Vitamix Professional Series 300, Vitamix 5200, Blendtec Twister Jar (top) and Designer Series (bottom). (101 Blender Drinks [top] also included for scale)

The cookbooks that come with (from left to right) the Vitamix Professional Series 300, Vitamix 5200, Twister Jar (top) and Designer Series (bottom). (101 Blender Drinks [top] also included for scale)

Another view of cookbooks that come with the Vitamix Professional Series 300, Vitamix 5200, Twister Jar (top) and Blendtec Designer Series (bottom).

Another view of cookbooks that come with the Vitamix Professional Series 300, Vitamix 5200, Twister Jar (top) and Blendtec Designer Series (bottom).

Initial Conclusions

Both blenders are impressive beasts.  I’ve used my Vitamix Pro 300 so much that even my second blender container (I have two) is clouded, and the blender is what I’m used to.  The Blendtec is sleek and shiny, especially in these photos, as I waited until after I’d taken these photos to first use it.  Any talk about which is better based on small differences in size, cord length, the inclusion of an on/off switch or a cookbook seems like it would be meaningless for most people, as the real question is:  How do they each perform?

I’m thrilled with my Vitamix, but as I dig though my reasons in that old post, I realize I don’t know enough to know how it compares to the Blendtec yet.  In fact, I’m very hopeful that I’ll find that each blender has it’s strengths and that there will be things that the Blendtec does better.  Looking at the Fresh Blends book, it seems that the Blendtec may have more of a focus on dry grains than the Vitamix.  The Vitamix does have a dry grains container, but I’ve said before that I don’t do enough with dry grains to justify buying a separate container.  Maybe that’s a chicken and the egg issue, and the Blendtec could send me down that road.

Similarly, the Twister Jar is something I’m very much looking forward to using.  I’ve said before that one of the few disadvantages that the Vitamix 7500 and Pro 300 have compared to the 5200 is that the wider container base means that they are not as well suited for very small batches.  While Vitamix does offer a 32oz container, I personally didn’t think it was something I needed, so I’ve made due with the larger container.  I can certainly see the Twister Jar being very good for dips, sauces, baby food and other recipes that are made in very small batches.

I’d love to be able to give a definitive answer on which blender would be good for what kind of person, but I don’t know yet.  Tonight we had pasta, and I wanted to turn some parmesan into parmesan powder, a great use for the Vitamix that I’ve written about before.  I figured I’d try the Twister Jar, thinking that the twister lid might help me mix it more evenly.  The slice of Parmigiano-Reggiano that would easily hit the blades in the Vitamix was long enough that it became stuck in the container, sideways and above the blades, and then mixed unevenly before over-mixing into hot and soft clumps.  I later found a recipe in the Fresh Blends book specifically for mixing Parmesan Cheese, so I’m sure the Blendtec can create better powdered Parmesan in the hands of a more competent user than what I made today, but I clearly need learn some things from the Fresh Blends book and I probably need to learn some other things the hard way as well.

If you’re in the market for a blender, it’s worth pointing out that, similar to the Vitamix refurbished options I’ve written about, Blendtec has a Recertified Blender option.

Please do let me know any question or requests you might have. I’ll learn more about the pros and cons of each blender as this year goes on, and I’d love to share feedback that will helpful to others.

Make your own almond flour with a Vitamix Blender

Almond flour is expensive, significantly more so than the same amount of almonds.  If you have a Vitamix blender, it’s significantly cheaper to buy raw almonds and turn them into almond flour with your Vitamix, and it’s incredibly easy to do.

Take raw almonds, blanched if you care about that light almond white color, and put in enough almonds to not cover any of the blades.  (If you put in a larger amount of almonds it becomes easier to accidentally make almond butter.)  I tend to blend about 30-40 grams at a time, but I’ve yet to make anything that needed more than 75 grams.  Turn the blender on high, and blend for 10 seconds or until the large chunks are gone.  Use a spatula or other tool to get all the almond flour off the walls and base so it can flow freely again, and blend for another 10 seconds, repeating a third time if needed.

You’ll end up with a much finer flour than you get with a food processor or coffee grinder, and you don’t need to bother with sifting.

It’s honestly that easy, and the weight of the almonds before going into the blender is almost identical (you won’t get every single piece of almond dust) to the weight of the almond flour you end up with, so you can weight your almonds before blending and not worry about making more or less almond flour than a recipe calls for.

New Blender Container Arrived

New and Old Blender Container

The new blender container, next to the old one, which has seen it’s fair share of use.

My wife and I couldn’t believe how different the new blender container looked.  It’s the same exact container, but my current one is so worn that it looks like a different part!

Very happy for the blender to be back in business.  My wife blended up some tasty corn soup with it and I’ll start punishing the new container with frozen drinks and the like very soon.

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