Blenders and Blending

Part 1: The Blender

The world is full of blenders, and most of them blend OK.  You can certainly get by with an ordinary blender to do BD, but with a few provisos.  You will either have to use quite soft things to start with, or cook them into softness, and you'll probably have to strain the resulting blend.  Ordinary blenders tend to die young also, especially when used hard.  Hive wisdom indicates clearly that what you really want and need is a high-end blender.  One with serious horsepower that will go the distance.

High-end blenders are expensive, it's true, but it depends a lot on where you live.

Why buy one then?  For a whole bunch of reasons:

  • Despite the initial outlay, most come with a very long warranty (VitaMix has 10 years in some countries) and reputations for great reliability and longevity.  If the stories I hear are anything to go by, you might be replacing an ordinary blender every few months or each year at best, so the math can work in your favour.
  • On cost, VitaMix have a medical discount scheme in the USA and Australia (and maybe more countries by now too), and I heard someone say Blendtec might too.  So most definitely ask.  You'll need some sort of doctor's letter saying that it's medically necessary to get one, and that's about it.
  • They do what it says on the box.  Truly, you'd never go back once you've used a good machine.  No more straining, easy cleaning, fast, blends anything, and frankly something with that much power on the benchtop is a little bit exciting.

Please note that I am not affiliated in any way with any blender company, so my opinions are my own entirely.

That said, I use a VitaMix 5000 series (because the 5200 wasn't available here when I needed mine). this is it:

They are quite tall, and to store under most benchtop cupboards you need to stand the jug next to the base.  That is the worst criticism of the VitaMix I've heard as yet.

The rabbit's name is Hamish.  You can read all about what happened to him HERE.

There are indeed other contenders in the marketplace, Blendtec being probably the best known.  Yes, a Blendtec or a VitaMix will both blend a mobile phone - to dust - , but apparently this may void the warranty.  On the phone also.  Of course you should shop around and do your research well so you feel informed and happy with your purchase.  Cheap knock-offs of Blendtecs are emerging from China now, and may even be OK.  I don't know.  Please share your blender experiences with me and I'll collate them over time into some sensible format.

Why did I buy a VitaMix?  Warranty was the thing that swung it in the end, and reading a few head-to-head comparisons with the Blendtec and others.  I am very happy with it and have even written a sort of small homage to it HERE.

Part 2: Blending.

So, you have a serious blender and you're ready to make the first blend.  Here we go!

There are some simple tips that help things go smoothly.  I will expand on these as they come in from you and others, so send them to me!

Read the instructions
Look, it's not just men who don't look at the booklet that comes with the blender, but these things are really good value and you'll learn most of what you need to know right there.  They killed the trees to make the paper for you to read, so it's good to honour that at least.  Truly; read the basics.

Put the gritty and tough stuff in first.
If I'm using hard seeds or nuts I'll put them at the bottom where the blades will get them first.  People who blend meat often do it first with a bit of liquid, before adding other ingredients.  Apparently, pork can be a bit stubborn.

You need enough liquid, but you'd be surprised how little 'enough' can be.
If you're going to bolus feed using a syringe and plunger, your blends can be rather thick - helps with caloric density and volume tolerance issues.  It is fine to err a little on the dry side to start with, but not so dry you're going to strain the machine.  You can always add liquid.

I didn't order cappuccino.
Blends can foam rather a bit, depending on ingredients.  There are a few solutions.
Add dairy and other highly-foaming ingredients last if possible (you'll discover what they are over time). 
Wait.  Simply let the blend sit for 30 minutes when done and the majority of the bubbles will just settle out.
Go slow.  When the blend is done, turn the speed right down for a bit.  My techniques is to turn it all the way dwn, then slowly up to the point where a vortex (like a whirlpool) just forms - no faster - and run it for 20 seconds there, then down to really slow again for another 20 seconds.  Gets most of the3 bubbles out.

Oil the wheels of progress
I find that an adequate amount of fats and oils help hugely in blending and feeding.  If this sits with your diet plan, then get amongst it - there are great oils that are very good for you, and some help with the foamy factor too.

Careful with the cooking factor.
2 things - remember you don't really need to cook a lot of stuff because the blender will smash it to teeny digestible pieces for you but also remember that the blender will start to cook the blend in only a few minutes.  Obviously some things are best cooked - not a major fan of raw meat myself - so use common sense with that one.  If you are wanting to preserve raw food nutrients then you don't want the blend getting too warm at all, so you may have to stop after a few minutes and wait for it to all cool down a bit and do it again.  This applies if you need it super-well blended to go through a pump (for example, they can be sensitive to things like shards of blueberry seed) but my blends for bolus feeding have lots of tough stuff and I never need to blend much longer than 2 minutes.  I also start with my ingredients cold, where possible.

Enjoy the accidents
One day you might forget to secure the lid.  One day you might turn your back for a moment to find later that your dear sweet child has, in that moment, flicked the switch from 'variable' to 'high' so when you switch the machine on....kaplooshka!  Remember messy accidents are more likely if you use beets.  Remember you can always thin it down.  There are no mistakes, just lessons learned, yes?