Do I need a Thermomix?
In a word. No, you don’t – BUT, it isn’t quite that simple. As with many things in life – while you may not technically need one, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy one. If you take a look through your kitchen cupboards, chances are that there are plenty of things you don’t really need that you will use a lot less than a Thermomix.
What is a Thermomix anyway?
While the marketing material may imply it is the only kitchen appliance you will ever need, there is a bit more to it than that. A Thermomix is basically a large, very high powered blender with the addition of controlled heat. Because of this, you can cook something in the bowl and later blend it, which is great. You can also steam things, knead some bread, turn rice into flour, ice or fruit into sorbet or perhaps even make your own yoghurt. The latest model also has some clever guided cooking where it tells you exactly what to do and when. If you love cooking, that may not be a good thing, but if you want an appliance to hold your hand, you may end up wanting to give it a high five (NB: this function is not actually available).
If you want an appliance to hold your hand, you may end up wanting to give it a high five
What it is great at
Anything you need to cook in one bowl and either stir cor keep an eye on is a dream in the Thermomix. The ingredients for a soup can be thrown in, a timer set and when you come back it is done. If you want to brown some vegetables first, you can also do that before you add the rest and it works reasonably well.
If you want to make a smooth silky puree, you will also find you can do it with ease, often without even needing to pass it through a sieve as the 10,000rpm blade makes short work of almost everything. This saves time and dishes and can be very hard to do with other kitchen appliances.
If you have a something like a hollandaise sauce that needs to be kept warm, you can make the sauce and then keep it warm in the same bowl.
Fresh fruit and ice can be turned into a half decent sorbet in a matter of seconds. It isn’t the same as a real sorbet, but it is pretty good, especially when you factor in the effort involved.
Milling things into flour can be very handy to make some oat or rice flour, or even make icing sugar from regular sugar. You can do this in quite small batches and this save a lot of shelf space and means you buy fewer things to keep in the cupboard.
Some people are so organised they cook a whole meal at the same time. They will steam vegetables and fish while at the same time making a sauce. It’s probably not something you would do often, but it is possible.
There are also literally thousands of recipes available, both from Thermomix and from food bloggers and authors everywhere. As with all recipes, some of these are also terrible – but in general there is a committed community that contributes an amazing amount of knowledge.
What it isn’t so great at
While I wouldn’t say the claims are exactly false, some of the functions aren’t all that great. Making bread or pizza dough does not come out as well as other methods. The kneading function really doesn’t work as well as a mixer with a dough hook or using your hands (perish the thought).
One of my first real tests was a simple risotto. It seemed like it had a lot of potential and I loved the idea of not having to stir it, but the result was not a patch on one made on the stovetop. Expecting a great result from this is probably a bit unfair and it was still tasty and completely edible, but if I was served it a t a restaurant I wouldn’t be ordering it again.
Buy it for the right reason
A lot of people are not confident in the kitchen and so buy a Thermomix to solve their cooking problems. If that is you and you are dedicated, your cooking will probably become a lot better initially, but my biggest problem is that I don’t think you will be a much better cook at the end of it. This is particularly true with the new guided recipes, but even with older models, reducing recipes to settings, temperature and timings isn’t really the way to learn how to be a better cook. It’s a bit like wanting to drive a manual car, but learning in an Automatic. It helps, but only so much.
What can you replace
While the list of functions are impressive this will not be the only appliance in your kitchen. You can safely get rid of your blender, but that’s probably about it. You will still use a kettle, spice grinder, food processor, mixer and even a stick blender. If you only had to have only one appliance, then the Thermomix would hands down be the one you would have, which I expect is one of the reasons they are so popular in countries like Spain, Portugal, France and Italy where many people do not have larger kitchens. Chances are, if you are thinking of buying a Thermomix then you already have a lot of gear, and you may regret it if you give it all away because even though it is great at some things, it isn’t quite the same for many others.
How to get one
The only way to get one new is to arrange or attend a demonstration. I’m sure this will put some people off, but it obviously works as people not only buy them, but fall in love with them once they see what they can do. You will be looking at spending around €1,100 to get one, and while discounts don’t exist – finance does (even restaurants pay full price). You can find the previous model for around half that and the features are not much different – aside from the lack of guided cooking, but that is something I am happy to live without.
Declaration: I am in no way affiliated with Thermomix. I do own one (TM31), but I bought it myself and use it all the time.