Chef types are constantly looking for the best ways to prepare something. In fact one of the secrets to becoming a great chef is to discover ways to make complicated processes simple and efficient. I am sure that soon after it was invented, the blender found its way into a commercial kitchen. That would have probably been in the late forties, probably fifties.
When I started bartending in the sities, we used one only for ice cream drinks and the occasional “frozen daiquiri” (Which we did not promote because they were a pain and too many would burn up the blender)
For most of my career I have seldom used a blender in the kitchen, preferring the food processor due to the quantity of whatever I have to produce. That said, blender’s are good for making small quantities of products (less than a quart) which makes them ideal for home use. With smoothies being the rage now-a-days, blenders are becoming increasingly popular. Most of them are junk. A few years back our food purveyor sold us 10 of them “ON Sale!” for $15 apeice. In some cases it took less than one use in a commercial kitchen to break the darn thing.
Imagine my surprise when the exec walked into the kitchen with the brand new “Vitamix Blender.”
Someone said, “Wow, there goes a $500 blender.”
I said , “Say what? Who ever heard of a $500 blender, what does it do that a $100 blender can’t do?”
“Well for starters, it can make soup”
I know that I am late to the party, the Vitamix has been around for decades and health food aficionados have been singing its’ praises forever. I just had to add my voice to the crowd. Every time I use it I am amazed. This blender actually does what a blender is supposed to do… it blends!
The thumbnail description of features is that the Vitamix is a variable speed blender with a heavy-duty motor. It has a thick high-tech plastic mixing pitcher or stainless steel depending on the model. The laser cut rotating knives are super sharp and actually cut whatever you are mixing instead of beating it apart as is the case for most blenders.
The Vitamix is subject to the same restrictions as any other “blender;” it will not blend “dry” products. Putting a handful of cilantro into the pitcher by itself will not work without adding some liquid to keep it in contact with the blades. Running it on high speed will throw the product away from the blades and simply grind air.
The difference is that when it is used properly, this blender will totally emulsify anything that you put into the chamber and do it to any consistency that you desire. Here is an example; yesterday I needed a sun-dried tomato puree that would come out of a squeeze bottle in a thick enough consistency to sit on top of a sea-scallop appetizer without running. Sun-dried tomatoes are notoriously tough, even after they have been re-constituted in water. The usual case with any other blender would be that, yes it would make a puree, but when it came to actually squeezing it back out of the bottle an un-broken piece of tomato would get stuck in the nozzle of the bottle and clog up the operation. (When you are on the job making appetizers to order with a 45 minute service time, taking 2 minutes to unclog the nozzle is frustrating.) The puree I made in the Vitamax came out totally smooth at exactly the consistency that I needed and on the job it came out of the bottle with no chunks.
Dressings made in the Vitamix are different as well. This machine blends so well that you may get different results than you expect. Last week I made a honey-dill vinaigrette. I like the little fine pieces of dill to show up as flecks in the dressing so it is more visually appealing, in this case I blended it too long and the dressing was uniformly green with no flecks.
Blending vegetables for a longer period will actually produce a soup. The speed can be adjusted to over 30,000 rpm which is enough to build up heat. (Yes, you can actually add some spinach, onions, garlic, water or cream and have a hot soup in less than 5 minutes.) We make sauces by the gallon so it rarely gets used for that purpose, but it will produce a well blended sauce in a matter of minutes if you so desire.
The 2 horsepower motor is solid enough to run at half speed for a long period of time without overheating as well. With every other brand of blender that I have used I have noticed a smell of electrical burning if I used it for more that two minutes. With this machine I have never experienced that smell even after 5 minutes of use. This blender is so efficient that it will rarely be necessary to run it for more that two minutes to get your kitchen tasks finished.
In an industrial setting this blender has served our kitchen for nearly two years. It gets used several times a day and has continued to operate with zero problems. Other blenders had a shelf life of 6 months to a year by comparison. Your mileage may vary, but if you want a solid blender that continues to perform for many years this machine cannot be beat.