Friday, May 17, 2013

My un-love affair with my Thermomix

Some of you may have noticed a distinct lack of posts about my Thermomix.

I was given it as a Christmas present by my lovely husband. He needed a considerable amount of convincing over a fairly long period of time.  It really is a huge purchase ($1935), so naturally isn't something that you would just jump into.


I had been along to two demos (these last a couple of hours each) and did a massive amount of online research, read the Choice reviews, watched YouTube videos. I also spoke to a few owners.  It seems that is really is hard to find a single Thermomix owner who doesn't rave and throw about 'it's totally changed my life' type phrases.  Mostly they list all the things they now love to cook that they wouldn't have considered prior to having a Thermomix in the kitchen. The first demo I went to made me really want one, and the second confirmed it for me.

It took a little longer to convince my other half, he certainly wouldn't be attending a demo.  I think what really got my husband over the line was sitting next to a couple of his friends at a wedding, and even hearing the guy tell us how amazing the gadget was.

It arrived in early January and I was so excited I could hardly sleep the night before. My local demonstrator brought over the machine and took me through all the basics; how to wash it, put it together, look after, and we then made a vegetable stock together.  That afternoon I proceeded to cook all the things that I really wanted to try TM style, top of the list were: mushroom risotto, soup and peanut butter.

The risotto turned out well, the Thermomix really does make it an easy, weeknight type of meal.  It takes roughly 25 minutes, and then you remove it and allow it to rest for a few minutes, which gets the liquid to the perfect consistency. It tasted fairly good, but the saltiness of the TM vegetable stock concentrate was overwhelming.


Soup-making is also a piece of cake in the TM - no changing vessel, it weighs and times everything, cooks it, then at the end pulverises the soup into a light liquid in a few seconds flat. But the stock base again was such a strong and unpleasant flavour for me.  I could also taste raw onions in the soup - the TM does 'fry' onions and garlic, but truly I would say it doesn't take them far enough to remove the raw flavour. 

Peanut butter making was an utter disaster. I placed them into the steel container and allowed them be processed for quite a period of time. Much to my surprise, this does not make a butter type consistency at all, more a lumpy/mealy texture. Thermomix peanut butter requires an oil to be added, much to my surprise, as I am a regular buyer of the 100% peanut (nothing added) butter from the Natural Health stores.   By this stage I was a bit crest-fallen. My demonstrator had warned me that it is a totally different way of cooking so does take some getting used to, which I understood, but I truly hadn't expected the first day results I got.


The following few weeks I persisted with trying out other recipes from the Everyday Cooking book. This is the book that comes as part of the Thermomix package. The book is basic to say the least, and to me, quite uninspiring. Most of the recipes are so unhealthy, one of the key things promoted by Thermomix, and they particularly around removing processed food from your diet. The quantities of sugar in the baked items is astonishing.  I made the Anzac biscuits for afternoon tea one day and had the biggest sugar hit I've had in years. They tasted delicious, but I couldn't see me making them again. I made bolognese one night for the family and a couple of extras, and again I couldn't get over the permeating raw onion taste, and also the texture of the sauce. The Thermomix is a very powerful machine, and uses a 'butterfly' piece to soften the impact of its blades but the bolognese ended up being almost a total mush.


It also felt to me that I had been totally removed from the cooking process, which I now realise quite how much I love. Cooking has become a type of therapy to me, and it's hands on and sensory when you do it the old-fashioned way. You know the dough is ready from look and feel.  You add a little bit more salt or spice on taste. You continue to stir in stocks until the consistency is perfect. The Thermomix locks the ingredients into a steel container, and although you can turn it off and check, it doesn't feel the as when the food is bubbling away on the stove.

Another aspect of the TM which I struggled with was converting recipes from my existing cookbook collection to Thermomix-style. Much of the time the order in which you do things is reversed, and it is difficult to guess times and speeds for most newbies as the machine is capable of doing so many things at the same time.  The Thermomix forum was a great recipe resource, but also a veritable rabbit warren of information, much of it posted by individuals rather than the company. It was possible to find a version of what you wanted on there, but probably with the chef-inspiration removed.

After a couple of months the guilt of having this white elephant in the kitchen just got too much. I finally fessed up to my husband that I didn't love my Thermomix and wanted to sell it. He laughed for several minutes at the irony of it all.  Luckily for me, these machines are rarely found second hand as they are so well loved! I sold it for a little under the buying price within a few days.

I would like to make clear that I didn't dislike everything about the Thermomix, it just didn't do all that I wanted it to.  And for over $1900 that meant I was super critical. It made incredible mashed potato, and smoothies, and custard. Really top notch, and so easy. No need to continuously stir that custard for 10 minutes, it does it all for you.

The moral of this story is that my trusty Magimix food processor has now earned its spot on my kitchen counter. Love the simplicity!


32 comments:

  1. This is quite a thorough and thoughtful explanation of what didn't work for you. It took a lot of strength to admit this much desired machine wasn't winning a place in your kitchen, and to explain this in public, so kudos to you for documenting this so well. I think there will likely be some Thermomix consultants who will comment here that you didn't reach out for help or inspiration when perhaps this would have made a difference, but I am not a Thermomix consultant, so I don't really know if this would have helped in your situation.

    I think that just as the ipad is not for everyone, nor is the Thermomix. I think it would be narrow minded to think that Thermomix can appeal to every single person on the planet. That said, I am one of those who fell in love with it and even so, I think that adapting recipes comes after you've acquired familiarity and an affinity for the machine. So I wasn't surprised to read that the adaptations didn't work for you.

    I think it's good that you realized what you did, when you did, cut your loses, and that you passed on your machine to someone eager for it.

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  2. Brave and thoughtful article, thanks.

    Hope you don't mind, but I have posted a link on my page. Probably not the target audience to find people who agree, but will be interesting to read the comments:

    https://www.facebook.com/DadsGotAThermomix/posts/522377527800199

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  3. I've come here via Dads got a Thermomix! I've had my machine since new year, and can relate to all that you say. I don't think the veg stock paste made on my first day tastes nice either, but I've never liked veg stock! So am looking forward to trying different veg combos (less celery!!!) and also am happy to have found a chicken stock paste recipe on Quirky Cooking which works for us flavour-wise. I agree many of the sweet recipes have more sugar than required, but eg on Anzac Day I used a recipe from the community that had half the qty of sugar vs the edc one, and the results were delicious. I have never noticed the 'unfried' ness of onions but I guess it depends what you're cooking and I agree with helene that adapting recipes is a learnt skill. I had wonderful success with moussaka the other day using the EDC method for bolognese but my trusty recipe for ingredients and quantities. I like 'proper' grated carrot when making carrot salad so use my old way, but have found that for pizza topping, tmx 'grated' cheese is ok. Having the thermomix has been one factor in my general push towards even more cooking from scratch so whilst I don't think tmx chopped meat qualifies as minced I'm now thinking rather of getting the mincer addin for my trusty beloved kitchenaid (not sold or thrown away...) So I guess I'm saying I hear you, but for me in the end my thermie cup is a lot more than half full, not half empty. Helene's one minute bread on her blog, pikelets, custard, white sauce, mash, but also success converting molokhia, lentil soup etc have me convinced. It's great to grind this volume of coffee beans at once, and the tikka paste and butter chicken recipes in the Indian cookbook are just scrumptious.....

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  4. Really liked reading this and it confirmed my feelings that the Thermomix isn't for me (not that I was looking to buy one).

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  5. Thank you!!! I have been to a party and have friends that rave about the TM but I just don't think it is something I wold use that much. I would like one for soups and smoothies...but I can pretty much whip those up in no time right now.

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  6. Can I ask if you contacted your consultant for help at all? Most consultant would have been very happy to come to you and help you iron out those issues.

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  7. thanks for visiting and all your comments!

    Helene - Yes, I did contact my consultant, in fact both my consultants (I bought through a non-local consultant and had delivery from another). They were super helpful and made many suggestions. Just not enough to get me over the line.

    Martin - thanks for your link! And the comments - Yes, I realise that there are so many ways to use a TM, one of the best parts of the machine. I think those core things that I wanted it for disappointed, and over time I may have ended up using it for other things, but I just didn't want to.

    Corinne and Claire - I'm glad you found it helpful. And no, a Thermomix is not an essential gadget!

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  8. This is the first I've heard of thermomix and I'm so curious about it now, even though it didn't quite work out for you. Must find one of those demo you tube videos!

    PS: I'm hosting an Antipodes giveaway and hope you will enter: http://www.underlockandkeyblog.com/2013/05/antipodes-apostle-skin-brightening-and.html

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  9. I've watched Thermomix take off in Australia over the last 5 years. I love cooking, but knew from the get-go that Thermomix wasn't for me. There is such a tactile pleasure in my cooking, most of which is removed with a TM. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.

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  10. I agree with much of what you feel about the thermomix. i also did quite a bit of research before my partner bought me one as a gift. After my initial enthusiasm to try everything in it I have mostly reverted back to my old methods. However, my thermie has permanantly replaced my blender, juicer, food processor... and i use it regularly for making sauces, butters, cakes, soups, pastes and other parts of recipes which i then utilise in other recipes on the stove, in th oven or slow cooker. So I don't think it quite lived up to the hype yet it has still managed to instill itself as a valued part of my kitchen.

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  11. Some really good points here. I'm a tmx addict, but agree with several things you've noted:
    - sautéed onion and garlic just doesn't match up to pan sautéeing
    - the use of excess sugar in the edc recipes is awful
    - the edc recipes in general are of very poor standard... The key for me was to forget most of the recipes and refer to it for technique rather than ingredients or quantities. The stock concentrate is foul, and has a distinctive flavour unlike normal stock and it permeates anything it's used in.
    - the forum community is great, and very friendly and supportive, but there's a high noise to signal ratio. There's also a lot of enthusiasm for some really bog-standard recipes, which makes it hard to find the 'good stuff'.

    I love my machine and use it several times a day, but good on you for an intelligent and realistic review.

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  12. Thank you for your honesty! I have been to a couple of demonstrations and was on the verge of buying one when my mum bought one. I borrowed it for a week and decided it was not for me. My reasoning is the same as yours but with the addition that I like my salads grated not chopped. Also I have a bread maker, ice cream maker etc and really only need it for its blending. Instead I am going to buy a decent blender and enjoy stirring and tasting my food as I cook it.

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  13. Hi: this is a great post! I've just stumbled across your blog and I like your candid approach. After owning a TMX for about 14 months, it's only in the last few months that I've really come to love it. NB: it was about the same time I bought a second bowl; for some reason it mentally freed me and enabled me to use it more... not sure of the logic there really :)

    I'm so sorry that the peanut butter didn't work for you. I love making ABCF (almond, brazil nut and cashew plus flax seed) butter. It's one of the things I use the TMX for the most! Maybe yours wasn't a success due to the age/oil content of the nuts? I don't know; I've never made straight peanut butter in the TMX.

    I hope your next cooking adventure is more successful!

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  14. Hi Nick & Mel - I do think that most people have a few of the elements of the TM in their kitchen, it just depends how you end up using them. I love tasting as you go, think that's one of the most enjoyable parts of cooking.
    Post Imperfect - I can imagine how it could take ages to appreciate a TM - who knows how I would feel if I had kept it for another year!

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  15. This is the first article I have stumbled across of someone not keen on thermomix - the only other people I know who haven't taken have been one with not reg contact with consultants bought without handover etc... so it was quite an interesting read. You mention your love of cooking and how you feel tmx has taken away from that... My passion is cooking and prior to buying mine I was feeling would it take away that... Well me the delicious magazine addict and cookbook addict - it has not only got me more zealous, trying things I wouldn't of been brave or have the time to make. Life after 3 years with a thermomix has been amazing. Making pastry, icecreams, tempering chocolate - I just simply wouldn't of been bothered. I feel at times people expect the thermomix to replace everything - but I use it in conjunction with my stove top - whether to weigh, chop, or make sauce. My husband was out of work for 5 months we could not live without the thermomix - making everything from scratch... like a cheesecake where have made own cream cheese, condensed milk and flours and butter makes cooking for me so more rewarding. I am sorry that you didn't have to love that I found with mine. and like Helene said not for some... It to me isn't a status or to have the best thing - I bought purely because my passion is cooking and my down time is cooking - I have found that thermomix has made me a more confident and better cook... I have even made ricotta and now looking at haloumi. I love my coffee clubs I have with existing owners and the people I have met along the way. I also love that I have learn so much about wholefoods that I wouldn't of found out otherwise.

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  16. It's taken me a while to stumble across this page, but YES. I completely agree. After MONTHS of research, and hearing friends rave about how their Thermomix had changed their lives, and paid for itself in six months with the grocery savings alone, I booked a demo through a family member and bought one. I really really enjoy cooking and, like you, felt some of the joy sucked out of it for me. I also found the texture of many things completely unappealing, like the Anzac biscuits, and the Bolognese mince.... I don't like my food pulversied, and even on the stirring function, everything seems to be almost pureed.
    And teaching my children how to cook? Well, I felt that prepping ingredients and putting them in the Thermomix, where we can't test them, or see them cooking, was totally uninspiring. I feel so absolutely guilty that I'm not in love with my Thermomix. But in truth, I like the hands on, intensive, time consuming cooking process, making it up as I go along and allowing flavours to develop, and I already cook most things from scratch, so I really don't think it has helped me as it has helped some others. I am so overwhelmingly relieved to read your post and know that I am not the only one who feels this way. I think it's time to confess to my husband and find my Thermomix a home where it is loved.

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  17. Hi Sally,
    Sounds like you gave it a good go - like me. It's such a hard thing to admit - I'm sure your husband was not an easy sell on the TM.
    Hope you manage to sell it easily too - I think I mentioned I sold mine on Gumtree - loads of very low offers, but a few good ones too.
    good luck!

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  18. Hi there! After attending two thermomix demos I decided to purchase a less expensive version because I too want to mix this style of cooking with more traditional methods. I have purchased a Thermochef for $550 including delivery. I can still experiment with a "thermo" machine and do quick cooking when needed without running the risk of a $2000 machine sitting idle on my bench. Thank you for this honest review.

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  19. I love my thermomix, but I must admit that it has some limitations. I'm also pretty disappointed about the nut butter. My thermomix makes an awful squealing sound when I try to grind nuts. I tried a couple of the recipes from the book and couldn't stand the texture as well. I'm not very good at following recipes anyways and much prefer to "wing" it. It still gets used every day though... just not for nut butter or spag bol (my thoughts exactly on the awful onion flavour). On the positive side, the scale feature was broken on my machine, and they managed to fix it in a very short amount of time.

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  20. It's a serious investment for sure & no doubt not for everyone. That's not unique to TM however. After having my TM for about a month I'd already used it more times than the $570 KitchenAid food processor I bought 2 years ago - which is also a well made functional machine.

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  21. Hi Sally,
    I'm one of those who saw, bought, and loved my 'thermonuclear husband' all within the space of a week. However, some of my friends felt the same as you. They say, bought, and then didn't really like the EDC recipes, and didn't have the time or inclination to experiment. As a result, I wrote some cookbooks, of 5 ingredients or less, to help them use their thermomix more often. These books are available at www.thermocookbook.com
    Cheers,
    Lisa

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  22. Hi
    I have to agree with what you wrote. I also find the onions not to my liking or the garlic,it tastes like jar garlic it is so minced. Coconut Curries become too watery if you follow the recipes. We are gluten and lactose intolerant and I find the available recipes for these contain so many difficult to source ingredients to be too time consuming and just unappealing. (Yes I have the GF cookbook) If someone has a lot of time it would be ok to trawl the net for recipes but I bought it thinking it would save time.
    I am hoping it will come into its own with weaning our nxt child and then most likely sell also.
    I think its like everything in life, great for some and not others.
    Thanks for your review. I wish I had found it earlier but then I would have probably still bought one to see for myself.

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  23. Hi,
    This was a great and thoughtful article. I have a Thermomix and love it but agree it's not for everyone.As a dietitian, I have some different insights. I think they are particularly useful for people with food allergies and intolerances. But, big but, as you note, a lot of the Thermomix recipes around are very unhealthy, with way too much salt and sugar (Don't even start me on Rapadura sugar - let's just say if you want extra vitamins and minerals just eat a another serve of fruit and vegetables). The Thermomix is heavily marketed to busy households as a quick way to cook dinner. To be honest, a good pressure cooker is a lot cheaper and can be used to cook tasty and nutritious meals (especially with legumes, ie dried beans, etc) much more quickly than the Thermomix. I can see a Thermomix would be fantastic for making baby food, but it's certainly not essential. I enjoy cooking and think the Thermomix is a useful tool in the kitchen but beware the marketing hype.

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  24. A very interesting article. I attended a TMX party and was sold. However the price tag and proclaimed 'delicious' (but visually unappealing) foods the local consultant was posting on facebook turned me off the idea. When my food processor died I started to rethink things and started researching my options. I eventually decided on a thermochef which I picked up second hand for $200. Thought i would trial it... see if i really would use it! So far I have loved it. I am time poor but eager to remove processed food from our diets and the TMC certainly helps facilitate this. But I agree, thermo cooking does not achieve the same quality as stovetop cooking. Even with my newfound appreciation for the contribution of a thermie in the home I could not justify spending so much on a TMX when TMC does all but one function of the TMX for less than half the cost.

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  26. Thank you so much you have just saved me $1900, I have been asking several people with tm what they think and they rave about them, I then tried to explain I like cooking from scratch and already have a kitchenaid and vitamix blender and a juicer, they all said you will get rid of them once you buy a tm. I didn't like the idea that it doesn't brown properly and I'll the food I've seen looks like it's come from a slow cooker, yuk. I'm starting my bub on solids in few wks and thought it would be handy for this but I can't justify the money if I'm still going to need to use all my other methods as well.

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  27. I hate cooking so the removal from the cooking process to me sounds like a dream come true! Im still working on hubby.

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  28. I used to love spending hours making bulk fresh thai curry paste with my mortar and pestle , I loved the ritual, the smells and hypnotic thud of my pestle and of course the finish product................... then I had a child ......whom I love greatly but as a single parent the pleasure of spending 2 hours making pastes is not practical anymore.... l make them all now in the thermie along with dozens of other creations such as breads, ice-creams, all in one meals etc. etc. etc. ..... that I would never have made previously due to my lack of experience ... so for me the thermomix is a winner because I now am cooking a greater variety of foods in a shorter time and I still get to have my cooking rituals but now they a geared around the thermomix....I love it

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  29. thanks heavenlyingredients for your blog about the Thermomix. I too feel the exact same way! My partner bought me one for my birthday after being urged by family that I would 'love it' so I could not say I found it a waste of money but for me, that is exactly what it is! I think some soups and risottos are easier to make in the TM but lets not forget it's made in Germany and when was German food ever thought to be gourmet? It boils everything, there is no 'sauteing' as such and yes it cooks quickly but the tastes are not subtle and everything turns to mush (bit of an exaggeration but mostly true!). This is basically for people who usually eat out of tins, take away or cook a lots of meals for kids - when I read other blogs, I can see why it is so handy for family cooks with small children. Don't get me wrong, with a some thought you can a few tasty meals - but does that really justify the price!

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  30. Did you end up giving up with it or keep on going? The raw onion taste is easily fixed with cooking the onion in the saute stage for a few extra minutes :-D

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  31. It's a pity that you didn't enjoy your Thermomix, I have had mine for 2 years and have loved every bit of it during that time. I'd also have to disagree with an Anonymous post from April 18 that states "This is basically for people who usually eat out of tins, take away or cook a lots of meals for kids" I have made so many delicious, gourmet meals that do not usually come out of a tin, are not like take away or not for kids. There are so many professional chefs in Australia who have more than 1 in their restaurants, you also only have to watch Masterchef to see it is use cooking more than home made meals. I spotted 5 in Adriano Zumbo's kitchen at The Star in Sydney!
    But each to their own. I'd have to say to those considering buying one, do your research and do it really well then make your own decision. Happy Cooking everyone!

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  32. Gosh, thank goodness, I was beginning to think I was the only one in the world who doesnt like the thermomix! I love cooking, make everything from scratch and so was desperate for one and then some friends offered to loan me one while they went on an extended holiday. I approached it with great gusto and made all sorts of things! The risotto was inedible, the marmalade exploded all over the kitchen and I still had to keep checking every 2 mins to see if it was ready. I grew to despise it, it took the fun out of cooking and it was so ugly and so LOUD! I put it into the garage until they came home and went back to my food processor, blender and chopping and stirring by hand. Cooking is a form of therapy for me and one of the ways I relax and I found it stressed me out! Also I enjoy cooking with my just 9 year old daughter and I want her to be able to chop and stir and knead - not just dump everything into a machine and have it done for her! Anyway, if it helps anyone to eat healthier food by creating from scratch then fantastic but I am spending my $2000 on boots!

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