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An Honest Review of Thermomix TM5
What is a Thermomix?
Thermomix is a kitchen gadget - though that term over-simplifies a kitchen machine that is not only a food-processor but one that also, weighs, cooks, chops, crushes, emulsifies, whips, mixes, steams, blends, kneads, grinds simmers, grates and mills.
The Thermomix is designed and manufactured by Vorwerk with the ultimate in German engineering, producing a machine that is reliable, sturdy and built to last. Despite its extensive repertoire for the kitchen, it is quite neat and will sit comfortably on any countertop without demanding too much space.
Why Would I Want One?
Throw Out Your Old Appliances
The Thermomix is used and loved by the professional chef and the home cook equally because it is a workhorse. It replaces virtually every other gadget in the kitchen so you can throw out the food processor, the bread machine, the coffee grinder, graters, electric whisks, the steamer, the juicer, slow cooker, et al.
Save Time, Money and Cook Healthier
The Thermomix saves an inordinate amount of time in both preparation and cooking foods. A carrot cake mixture takes 30 seconds, a lemon curd 6 minutes, a Creme Brulée which would usually take 1 hour 20 mins to prepare and cook takes 15 minutes start to finish and that trickiest of sauces, Hollandaise 4 minutes. The time-saving benefits of the machine also vastly reduce energy costs.
The speed and ease of using the Thermomix mean cooking from scratch are no longer a chore. So you can ditch the takeaway and processed foods and cook with fresh, healthy ingredients.
How Does it Work?
The Thermomix looks not unlike a kitchen blender with a sturdy stainless steel jug. Within the jug sits a two-pronged blade which can be set to gently stir a mixture (it has an automatic reverse setting for kneading and stirring) to terrifyingly high speeds that chop through ice or rock-hard Parmesan cheese in seconds.
Set in the base of the machine are various touch controls which turn the Thermomix into weighing scales, so weighs ingredients as added. There are heat settings from 0° - +120 °C and coupled with the timer, means food is cooked while you busy yourself elsewhere.
The Thermomix also has a steaming basket (Varoma), which sits atop the machine. So, while one food cooks (a soup or sauce) another food can be gently steamed above it.
None of these amazing benefits comes cheap. The price of the new TM5 is around £900 ($1500 US). For the professional chef this money is quickly recouped, but for the serious home-cook it may take longer. If, like me, your kitchen gadgets are reaching the end of their life, then it may be a good time to consider the Thermomix.Continue to 2 of 2 below.
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Is the TM5 Thermomix Worth the Money?
My Experience with a Thermomix
In 2010, I was introduced to the Thermomix (TM31 model). I spent a mere 3 hours using the machine, and despite never having used one before (under supervision), I made a huge variety of dishes. These included a homemade lemonade, a tray of multi-grain bread rolls, a pineapple sorbet and a red pepper soup. I steamed vegetables, cooked a vegetable gratin with cheese sauce. Parmesan grated like a dream, I chopped nuts, milled lentil flour and crumbed breadcrumbs from fresh bread for the gratin.
Though this older machine at first seemed daunting with buttons, timers, speed settings it took a little time to become familiar, and I was soon whizzing through the instructions.
For me, most daunting was the turbo speed needed for chopping ice. Once going, it is extremely noisy, and the machine does need to be held firmly to prevent it skipping across the counter - however as it takes only 10 seconds and is quickly over. I felt sure with more practice I would get used to the terrifying noise.
Unfortunately, back then I couldn't afford the Thermomix. For the following four years, I was envious every time I heard a friend or fellow-chef had bought one. Then in 2014, Vorwerk brought out a new machine. The first in 7 years and I, finally, decided I could afford one.
The TM5 is much bigger than the one I initially used. It has several improvements over the older model in that it is now touch screen, is quieter and has a wider and higher range of temperatures and more detailed weighing measurements.
The design is much sleeker and a child of the 21st century with automatic arms which lock and hold the lid in place and a recipe chip. This chip holds some recipes, and some also have step by step automation (which my husband loves when I am away working, and he cooks his dinner). The recipe disc is not something I care for, preferring to use the Thermomix for my recipes, but it most certainly is useful for those who like detailed instruction.
Four months on and I bless the day I bought my machine. I was a little anxious in the beginning and often afraid I may break it. No chance. The Thermomix is a robust little workhorse and is used almost every day, sometimes several times a day. Over the Christmas holidays, I realised its worth with so much cooking to do. I could set recipes going and leave it cooking and stirring away with its happy little chime at the end telling me when to check it. On Christmas day, I had no icing sugar to decorate the mince pies, not a problem; the Thermomix finely grinds regular sugar to icing in seconds. A favourite salad recipe needed to be chopped nuts. Again, this was quickly sorted.
In those months, I have made pates, sauces, pastry and bread (many times) jams and chutneys. There has been more fresh soup, stews and curries than I care to think about, and all in one jug. Hollandaise sauce is made successfully in minutes, so Eggs Benedict for breakfast more often.
As a chef and someone who cooks every day I fell in love with the Thermomix, the saving of my time and energy was apparent to me in almost instantly. I question its relevance to the casual cook, but anyone who likes to cook and can use an extra pair of hands in the kitchen, it is a must.
But is it Worth it?
For me, yes. Many of my kitchen gadgets were reaching the end of their lives, and this was an opportune time to buy one. So for that alone, it was worth it. I must also take into account the saving of my time and that, as the Thermomix is so easy to use and quick to wash I am more inclined to cook. In fact, I welcome going into the kitchen and using it. The Thermomix also comes with a great range of accessories.
The Thermomix comes with only one jug so needs to be frequently washed, though extra jugs are available to buy but not cheap at approx £250 each.
The automatic arms are a little slow both in closing and opening, which took a little getting used to, but as a safety feature, I do feel the automation is a good idea.
As a special offer, my new Thermomix came with two bowls, but four months on I have still not received the second bowl. Customer service in the UK has not been good at responding to e-mails about this, which is very disappointing.
Other than that, I am hard pressed to find anything else I do not like.
UPDATE: For US residents - the Thermomix is now available in the US, great news for you all, so no excuses.