When I worked in a professional kitchen, the Vitamix blender was in high demand. Almost constantly in use, it blitzed vegetables and fruits into sauces, pulverized freeze dried ingredients, and made our signature butterscotch puddings silky smooth. That blender was used and abused by an unrelenting stream of prep cooks, line cooks, and pastry cooks, and nothing seemed to faze it. Working with that Vitamix convinced me that I could never go back to the standard household blenders I had used before. Everything else just felt clunky.
Buying a Vitamix blender can feel like an unnecessary splurge in a world of cheap blenders. But as many long-time Vitamix owners will tell you, these blenders are in a class of their own. Not only are they powerful enough to make nut butters and grind grains into fine flours, they make the smoothest soups, purees, and sauces and, on top of everything else, they can last many years. I’ve had the same Vitamix blender for a decade, and it shows no signs of quitting even after being used for hundreds of recipe tests as well as my regular household cooking. Once you’ve used a Vitamix blender, it’s hard to go back to anything else.
However, there are some things to know when you get a Vitamix. While they generally operate as you would expect a blender to operate, a few tips and tricks will help you get the most out of your new kitchen workhorse.
Adding lighter, fluffier ingredients (like greens or herbs) to the Vitamix first, then layering heavier ingredients on top helps weigh down the lighter ingredients, making blending easier. Sometimes, as is the case with greens and herbs, the lighter ingredients will practically liquefy and then the heavier ingredients will fall into the blades and thicken everything up.
For blended foods where fruit is involved, add soft, juicy fruits to the blender container first, then add anything else on top. Layering in this way ensures that the mixture will be liquid enough to blend properly without excess wear and tear on your machine.
Use High Speed
Vitamix blenders are actually designed to be used at the highest speed setting unless you’re making something that needs to stay a little chunky. Start the machine on low speed to begin the blending process, then increase the speed to high smoothly and gradually. Using the Vitamix at high speed allows the motor to pull in more cool air, which helps the machine avoid overheating and will extend the life of your blender. If your Vitamix does overheat, it will shut off automatically, but don’t worry! Let the machine cool down for 30 to 45 minutes and then try restarting it.
Don't DIY the Tamper
Vitamix blenders come with a tamper, a long plastic tool with a handle that fits neatly through the hole in the 2-part lid and is used to push ingredients into the blades while blending. If you’ve misplaced the tamper or it happens to be dirty from another cooking project, it can be tempting to try to find a replacement. Long-handled wooden spoons or the handle end of a silicone spatula seem like they would work, but do not be fooled! Using anything other than the tamper that comes with the blender to push food down is a recipe for bits of wood or plastic in your food. Ask me how I know.
On that note, use the blender tamper liberally to push down ingredients that are sticking to the sides of the blender. It can be tempting to keep adding liquid to the blender container until everything blends without using the tamper, but sometimes, to achieve the desired texture, more liquid is not the answer.
Clean Smarter, Not Harder
Cleaning a Vitamix blender can seem daunting, and the sharp blades can be sponge-shredders. The good news is that the blender’s powerful motor isn’t just great for smoothies and soups–you can use it to your advantage when cleaning as well.
Rinse the dirty blender container, then add a squirt of dish soap and a cup or two of hot water. Place the blender container on the base, firmly attach the lid, and turn the blender speed up to high. Let the blender run for 20 to 30 seconds, then dump out the suds and rinse. This trick works for all but the stickiest messes, and even then it’s helpful for loosening the worst of the gunk.
If the blender tamper is dirty as well, you can stick it in the blender while you’re cleaning it. Hold the tamper firmly in place while the blender is running so it doesn’t knock around and so the suds don’t escape from the hole in the lid.
When You Turn It Off, Turn It Down
There are few things more startling and unpleasant than turning on your Vitamix blender only to discover that someone (ahem) left the speed dial turned all the way up to 10. It’s even worse if the high speed switch is flipped. Get in the habit of turning the blender speed all the way down before turning the blender off to avoid a hair-raising surprise when you were just trying to make a smoothie. In addition, starting the blender on high speed will cause the ingredients inside to splatter all over the sides and lid of the blender, meaning you may have to scrape everything down and start again.