Having just reduced the third saucepan this week to a blackened remnant of its former self, I know what I want for Christmas – a Thermomix!
Yes, I know it looks like a cartoon character in the making – but it genuinely is an amazing creature – the result of over 40 years of German craftsmanship and attention to detail. And no one does attention to detail like the Germans….
I have known about the Thermomix for sometime but was finally convinced to have a full-on demo by blogger Adriana of www.glutenfree4kids.com. She is a total convert and uses the Thermomix in her gluten-free cookery classes as she says it is just so brilliant for those who find themselves having to actually cook for the first time, and not only having to cook but having to cook gluten or dairy free.
Effectively it is an immensely flexible liquidiser/processor which sits in heated cradle thus allowing you not just to chop or to purée but to cook while you are doing so. So how best to describe its multiple virtues? Well, I’ll try just listing them…..
This happens in the 2 litre (enough to serve 6) stainless steel jug.
• The jug, lid and blade all go in the dishwasher.
• The blade is removable, leaving just a hole in the middle of the jug, and is dismantleable. This means that both are very easy to clean really thoroughly – a matter of great concern to those cooking for severe allergies.
• There are no sharp corners in which allergens can lurk – either in the jug or the cradle.
• The blade has sharp cutters on one side (for chopping veg, pulversing nuts or legumes into flours, making breadcrumbs, grating parmesan etc etc) but is blunt on the other side and is reversible. This means that when you reverse the blade it stirs/kneads instead of cutting – perfect for making bread dough, pasta dough, cake mix, a stew, risotto, white sauce, mayonnaise or anything which needs regular but gentle stirring.
• The blade revolves at anything from spoon-stirring speed (40 rpm) to pulverising lentils speed (10,200 rpm) – you just set the speed on the dial.
• Any speed you set in controlled by the timer.
• Because it can revolve so fast it makes wonderfully smooth emulsions, far smoother than you would ever get in a food processor – you will not need to sieve your soup or sauce to get it really creamy.
• Because of the way the blade is seated in the bowl it creates a vortex sucking liquids down instead of spraying them around as happens in a food processor – no counter top covered in soup!
• You can can chop/mix all ingredients in one go – cheese straws, cake mix, bread dough – rather than having to do it bit by bit. So speedier and only uses the one jug rather than three bowls.
• Because of the shape of the jug you can use it to process/cook very small quantities – small amounts get lost in the bottom of a standard food processor. When combined with the cooking function (see below) this means that you could, for example, make half a pot of jam out of one punnet of overripe raspberries.
• The jug is thermal so will keep its contents hot for up to 30 minutes.
• You can use it as a kettle!
• The jug, sitting in the cradle, has a built in electric scales so you do not need to weigh your ingredients before adding them.
• The lid of the jug is gently concave and the central plug does not fit tightly, leaving a little gap all round. So, if you are making mayonnaise, Hollandaise or any other sauce which requires you to slowly drip in ingredients while stirring your sauce, you can just pour the olive oil or melted butter into the concave lid, turn it to ‘stir’ speed and leave it to drip in and get amalgamated….
• You can remove the plug from the lid and sit a double-layered steamer over the jug allowing you to steam your vegetables and your fish in the steam from your simmering soup below. Major saving in time, washing up and energy use/cost.
• The jug is extremely robust (as is its cradle) so that you can mistreat without fear! (Thermomix also offer a two-year guarantee and excellent customer service in the unlikely event that something does go wrong.)
The cooking part
This happens in the cradle into which the jug fits snugly.
• All gentle curves – no sharp corners to secrete allergens.
• It will cook at anything from a gentle simmer to a rolling boil – just set the temperature dial.
• You can set the temperature as low as 37C – low enough for baby food, melting chocolate or ‘cooking raw’.
• You cannot set a temperature without setting a time (max 60 minutes), after which it will turn off automatically. So you cannot go away and forget it and reduce your delicious sautéed vegetables to charcoal – as I do on a regular basis…. Oh joy!!!!
• Because the jug is almost entirely enclosed it is very heat efficient which means that it cooks a good deal faster than if it were in a saucepan with all sides exposed, and that it is a lot more energy efficient – and so cheaper to run.
• Because it stirs as it cooks, you can go away and leave it to get on with it without having to constantly remember to stir your pot.
Extra virtues for those cooking ‘freefrom’
• It extremely simple to use and comes with an excellent 300 recipes cookbook (many more available) which effectively allows you to ‘cook by numbers’. So if you are not a good cook and the thought of cooking at all, let alone cooking gluten or dairy free, scares the life out of you, it will really hold your hand throughout the process. You can also get a gluten and dairy-free cookbook specifically for the Thermomix.
• However, if you are a keen cook, it is so versatile that you can experiment endlessly – Adriana made almond milk for the first time while I was there.
• If you find yourself having to cook several meals to accommodate everyone’s diets, the fact that it cooks so much faster than on a standard hob is very helpful.
• If you want to create your own flours, your own ‘milks’ etc you can do so very easily.
• It is really not much bigger than a standard food processor and plugs into a standard 13 amp plug, so you can take it away on holiday with you and be entirely in control of your own food.
• It is very easy to clean and has no hidden corners in which allergens can lurk.
• Given that cooking ‘freefrom’ can cost a good deal more that ‘normal’ cooking, it enables significant savings on ingredients as nothing need ever be wasted.
OK – enough, enough…….. What is the downside? There has to be one. Well, of course there does – and there is – and it is the cost….. Such a potpourri of perfection does not come cheap. Like £885’s worth of not cheap – although that does allow you to put down and deposit of £427 and pay the rest off over a six month period. (That does include VAT, by the way.)
It seems like a lot of money but if you compare it with the cost of the liquidiser, processor, scales, coffee grinder, steamer, sauce maker and kettle that it will make redundant, it is not quite so horrendous. Not to mention the savings you are going to make in electricity and gas… And the savings in time spent scraping blackened stew remains off the bottom of saucepans…
If you want to know more you could talk to Adriana on 07770 265114 or email her here or check in at her site, www.glutenfree4kids.com where you can also find out details of her gluten-free cookery courses at the Miele Experience Centre in Abingdon or at the Waitrose Cookery School – next one on December 11th.
Meanwhile, I am going off to count my pennies….