To Thermomix or not to Thermomix?

To Thermomix or not to Thermomix? That’s the $1939 question. I expected to come out of the other side of a two-week trial period of the tricked up kitchen mixer knowing if it is worth splashing out almost $2000 on one. I don’t. I’ll put my cards on the table — I wasn’t considering buying a Thermomix when I asked to review one. But I was intrigued about why so much fuss was being made over a piece of kitchen equipment. When a colleague who works with me at The Australian Financial Review asked if it was worth buying one, I suggested he review one for the newspaper and find out for himself. I decided to go one step further and review one myself. I wrote a rolling review over six of the days of the trial period. We had our ups and we had our downs.

The Thermomix does just about everything but the washing up. It chops, mixes, mills, blends, stirs, beats, emulsifies, kneads, cooks, steams and melts. It smashes ice for smoothies then blends the requisite ingredients, it simmers sauces, soups and one-pot meals, steams vegetables and fish while simultaneously cooking an accompanying sauce, it kneads dough, minces meat, and chops super fine vegetables in a heartbeat.

I like the fact that it weighs ingredients as they’re added to the bowl. So if you’re making bolognaise you can weigh in the onion, chop it, saute, weigh in the right amount of meat, saute again, weigh in the tomato sauce — blah-dee-blah.

I’m also impressed with its meat mincing capabilities, although it took me several attempts to get the knack of this technique. I ended up with mushed lamb the first time, then exceptionally fine minced beef the next. The third time I nailed it, or at least the Thermomix did.

I liked its fairly compact shape on my not-so-roomy bench-top. The cupboards in the old kitchen we procured with the house six months ago are uncomfortably full — it’s a cue for a dummy spit every time an infrequently used utensil or baking tray needs to be found — so there was no chance of it finding a temporary home in there. And it would certainly look the biz in the Kitchen Of My Dreams (capitalised intentionally) that I plan to sell my soul for in a few years time.

If you want a one-pot wonder that can pull off individual dishes in a short amount of time, the Thermomix is it. If you want lots of functionality in one appliance — a rice cooker, steamer, juicer, blender, mixer, grinder, frother, an all-in-one fancy pants blitzer — a Thermomix will meet those needs. If you want something that looks the bee’s knees the Thermomix ticks that box, too.

But for every box that the Thermomix ticks there is another, in my experience, that goes unchecked. If you’re a tactile kind of cook — someone who likes to get their hands dirty, who doesn’t mind putting in a little elbow grease because you appreciate the pay-off in the finished dish — then the Thermomix will likely disappoint. I’m a spice fiend. I love pounding spice mixes and pastes in my trusty, granite pestle and mortar. I think about all the idiots who have crossed my path that week, on-the-job annoyances, and things on the to-do list that never got done. I pound and vent, pound and vent. The effort, and gentle waft arising from fractured spices, soothes my stressed little soul.

Similarly, when I cook stove top I love the fact that the smell of my Sri Lankan chicken curry wafts half way up the street and compels even strangers to comment on it when they walk by. I adore the comforting smell of sautéing onion and garlic, the spice-packed punch of chorizo as it fries and splatters and splashes in the pan. For me, getting my hands dirty and that inhalation of precursory aromatics is what cooking is all about — it’s part of the kick I get out of being in the kitchen. There’s not a lot of that with the Thermomix. On my watch, roasting spices and sautéing onion and garlic elicited little smell. I could cook an entire dish and there would be no sign of it in the air until I removed the Thermomix lid. It’s all a bit ‘boil in the bag’.

However, this kitchen wonder-kid does have time-saving capabilities, and even the most tactile of cooks wants — or needs — to cut corners from time to time. Admittedly, there are days when I’d forgo the indulgent smells and stress-busting spice pounding just to get a meal made more swiftly. But there are also days when I need to cook in bulk and, for me, this is where the Thermomix fell short.

Often on a Sunday I indulge in what I like to call a cook-a-thon. This means cooking three or four meals simultaneously — or at least in rapid succession — which are portioned and packed in containers in the fridge and freezer. They serve us well over the busy working weeks. When I attempted this with the Thermomix it severely slowed me down. Why? Admittedly, being a Thermomix novice it took time to work out the different speeds and dials, but I also had to keep washing the bowl — and at times dismantle it to wash the blade — so it could be re-used. Where I can have four pans on the stove top — not an uncommon sight during a manic cook-a-thon — and one big wash-up at the end, I was cooking-washing-cooking-washing with the Thermomix and tearing my hair out a little, too.

I’m told this is where a second Thermomix bowl set comes in handy but that’s an additional cost of $395 (unless there is a special offer on). And if you start buying extra accessories, it negates the Thermomix’s space saving argument. There’s also the question of what to do with all your other appliances and equipment that will be made redundant by the purchase of a Thermomix. You could, of course, have a kitchen sale. Perhaps that’s what I’ll do when I clean out the full to bursting cupboards ahead of the Kitchen Of My Dreams renovation. Perhaps the Kitchen Of My Dreams will feature a Thermomix.

 

 

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26 Comments

Filed under Product reviews

26 responses to “To Thermomix or not to Thermomix?

  1. Personally – I’m put off by the vast cost. They’ve been ubiquitous in UK cooking shows for quite a while now but they’re always used alongside all the other gadgets so I don’t think you do get to do a kitchen clear out!!!

    And like you, I like the smells, the tactile nature of cooking and the fact that sometimes it is hard graft!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Speaking as a kitchen hoarder – i know i’d struggle to offload other equipment even if the TM carried out their function just as well, if not better. My cupboards would be just as crammed.

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  2. Thanks for your frank review of the Thermomix. I have also being tossing up whether or not to buy one but being an Asian cook most of the time all I really need is a wok and cleaver so I’m not sure how much day to day use I will get out of it. I also like getting my hands dirty 🙂

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    • I’m the same. I worry that it would end out relegated to the back of the cupboard next to the juicer that i never use and probably plenty of other things that i’ve forgotten about!

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  3. I’ve never even see a picture of a Thermomix though I’ve heard & read people wax lyrical about them for a couple years now. Even sight unseen, your description is exactly why for the sort of cook I am, it’s not suitable. I want to touch, smell and adjust my food as I cook it. Cooking for me is a lingering (or sometimes rapid-fire) conversation with the ingredients and implements, and I don’t think I could listen to them through the hum of that machine. The many-devices-in-one and quick meal thing would clearly have its benefits at times, but not enough to convince me. Thanks for the review, Rachel!

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    • Thanks for dropping by Tammi. It’s certainly a great appliance and would certainly come in handy – but bench space is at a premium until that Kitchen Of My Dreams arrives and i’m not sure how much of a work out it would get on a weekly basis. I’d hate to see it just sitting there after paying almost $2000 for it. I’m still open to buying one, just not quite yet. Got a few other things on my wish list!

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  4. I was interested to see what you thought Rachel. Thanks for the honesty. I know people who swear by them but the cost prohibits it for me. I’m definitely another tactile cook…did you make any bread over the weekend?

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    • The cost is a little prohibitive. If they were a little less i might be more prepared to gamble that it would get a good kitchen work out. I didn’t make bread, Alison. I was a little busy at the weekend. I will be away next weekend, but off work on Monday so that may be a good opportunity to get my hands dirty again. The Thermomix did a cracking job at kneading my dough, though, i must say. Do you knead your bread much – or at all? I know Celia does next to no kneading at times … she’s got it down pat!

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  5. Great post Rachel. I’ve had my Thermomix for over 3 years and I love it, for all the reasons you mentioned. I bought mine to replace a broken food processor and instead of buying a stand mixer. I also sold my juicer for about what I paid for it a few months earlier.

    However, I also am a tactile cook, so I dislike it for the reasons you also listed. Consequently my thermi doesn’t get used anywhere near as much as it does my many other owners I know. There is nothing like a spicy curry or an aromatic spag bol simmering on the stove for hours, and warming the house with fragrant anticipation.

    Having said that, it has simplified my often crazy life, and I’m grateful I was able to afford the $ to buy one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great comments, Mel. And that’s why i wanted to use the Thermomix for lots of different things … to see if i would get the use out of it. By the end of the two weeks i’d used it to knead bread, mince meat, make smoothies, ice cream, pizza bases, make butter. I figured if it didn’t help me that much when i was doing my bulk cooking, would i use it for other things – and therefore would it still be worth buying. That’s what i’m struggling with at the moment. Although i used it for all those other things … how often do i do those other things???? I’m still open to the idea of having a Thermomix to do all those other jobs. And i am in the market for a new mixer – the one i have is pathetic. Maybe later in the year … i’ve got a few big outgoings in the short term.

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  6. Nice conclusion Rachel. I’ve had my Thermomix for about 6 years now, but still don’t use it anywhere near as much as some others I know for many of the reasons you cite. I find it doesn’t whip air into things anywhere near as efficiently as a stand mixer, while it is great for prepping dishes like spag bog I think meals like that require slow cooking for some hours, not being knocked together in 1/2 an hour and it doesn’t caramelise onions etc very well at all. Having said that I do use it most days. It is brilliant for kneading dough when in a hurry, for grinding nuts, melting chocolate and makes the most brilliant nut-milk based smoothies. I’d be lost without it if it died, but I recommend to anyone thinking of buying one to hang on to a few of their other appliances for a while before chucking them out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Amanda, It’s good to know that, as long-term user, you think along the same lines. And good advice about hanging on to other appliances if you do buy a TM. As you say, it does a lot of things well, but other things not so well.

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  7. Great review Rachel. As someone who definitely doesn’t have the dollars to spend on a Thermomix I cant say it is something I covet – but it does impress me and it would be fabulous for people with busy lives. I am (like you) a tactile cook and find genuine pleasure in practising things like bread making and making risotto by hand. I think I will continue to covet a Kitchenaid mixer which is something that would get way more use in my kitchen.

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  8. great wrap-up, FS! i’ve enjoyed reading your posts because you’ve presented the pros and cons of a thermomix. the price alone puts me off seriously contemplating one, but you know, i don’t mind the process of cooking – of chopping onions with a trusty knife, of sauteing those onions in my 20 year old red le creusset pot; of measuring other ingredients in my hand-me-down (but slightly dodgy) kitchen scales. i have a sentimental or ‘historical’ attachment to much of my kitchenware that i would miss if i were to replace it all with a shiny new machine. so there’ll be no kitchen sale at my place!

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    • Thanks – i wanted to give a fair picture. There’s a lot to love about the Thermomix, but they are expensive and there are a few other demands on my money at the moment. Thanks for dropping by.

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  9. I’ll have to mimic your sentiments (and most of the commenters’) regarding being a tactile, sensory cook, and for that reason, I’m not sure the Thermo is for me.

    I feel that my cooking knowledge has come from cooking manually, then watching things come together or hilariously fall apart. I think I’d miss those moments watching raw ingredients become a rich stew, or curry, or pie, or whatever I was making that day. I also like using a variety of tools in the kitchen – vitamix, stand mixer, food processor, etc – it keeps things interesting for me.

    That said, I think if you’re not the kind of person who loves that process, that it seems this is worthwhile. Or, if you’re rammed at work, I can see how this would be a great tool to have. I appreciate your even-handed review for this appliance that has caused a lot of (good and bad) fuss!

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  10. I can’t help but think that the thermomix is for people who don’t really like cooking. Unless I’m mistaken you basically throw ingredients at it and wait for the result? That takes all the fun out of cooking as far as I can tell. Isn’t the whole point of cooking to experience the processes involved, watch them, listen to them, smell them, learn about them?

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  11. I totally agree that it’s a different experience to cook with a Thermomix. Not a lot of standing and stirring. I wouldn’t say it’s for people who can’t or don’t like to cook – I really enjoy cooking – but I can have a risotto or custard stirring itself on the bench, while I comfort a teething child or bathe children – as opposed to them all crying and fighting in the kitchen, or me serving them up cereal for dinner. Again.

    When we do pancakes on the weekend, it’s all hand stirring and flour everywhere, but on a weeknight for me to be blending a hot soup in the thermomix while the bread rolls are just out of the oven with really minimal effort – that’s a wonderful feeling.

    Definitely not for everyone. But for those who need maximum outcome for minimal effort, this really is a good thing.

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  12. I have always loved cooking but I wasnt overly passionate about it as I work full time and have two children. I originally came across the Thermomix online when I was looking for a new food processor and blender after my 2 year old plastic one had yet broken another piece off it.

    I thought about the Thermomix for about 6 months as for me I thought at the time it was quite expensive, and then I took a giant leap and completed the online form at the Thermomix website.

    A lovely lady from my area called me a few days later and I purchased, without having ever seen one in the flesh. I couldnt wait for it to be delivered as it was an exciting prospect for me, but I never thought it would change my life, its just an appliance right?

    Over the coming months it enabled me to control all the ingredients of my families meals and also enable me to get creative QUICKLY. I think after the three week period, the Thermomix had paid for itself. I gradually became one of those ‘fanatics’ that you hear about.

    I now think of the Thermomix investment like an investment into a laptop, as I can see the value in spending $2000 on a laptop for the future of my childrens education, likewise, by controlling what I put into my kids food, I am enabling them to have better nutrition and ultimately health. The Thermomix certainly is not for everyone but I now know that my life will never be the same without one. Think about whats important to you and choose what works for you.

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  13. Mei

    Thanks for the review. I too was put off by the cost initially however, in a busy household and time is not cheap, the Thermomix has given me the chance to make healthy home made food for my children and husband. We are also preservative and MSG free so this gadget helps a lot. Many people think that nearly $2K is too much for a kitchen appliance however, there are many dishwashers, washing machines and driers (and others) that are near this price tag and they only do 1 thing! Time is money and if i can get a bit more time with my family then that’s priceless for me 🙂

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    • Gayle

      I have had mine for a couple of years and rarely use it. I am busy too and find cooking can be a drag at times but I think the food made in it is sub-standard. I have tried a huge variety of dishes over the years but I think you are taking a shortcut and you can tell in the eating.

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  14. Andy

    What everyone seems to miss is that having the house and the whole neighborhood smell delicious is nice, however all the smell is flavor that has escaped from your dishes that you will never get back. Just imagine all those smells staying in your food! I am also tossing up whether to get a Thermy or not and the price scares me, but my wife really wants one and I am researching all the pros and cons. What bothers me the most is that you don’t get all the caramelisation you get when fry your food in a pan. So much flavor………………

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  15. Alesse

    I’m also interested in getting one but put off by the price. I am a bit over the whole tactile cooking thing. I have been cooking family dinners daily for way too many years not to find the whole process mundane so that part doesn’t matter to me. I figure if I get the urge I could always have a night/day off the ease of the thermy just to remind myself what I was missing! I’m more interested to know if the quality of food is good & so far 99.9% of reviews I have read have all been very positive. Unfortunately other expenses keep unexpectedly arising so it might be some time before I am in a position to get one. Thanks for the review I really enjoyed reading it.

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  16. Nikki

    My Thermomix arrived on Thursday, tonight (Saturday) I’m giving Massaman Beef curry a go. Love blitzing and cooking spices from scratch, the aroma was in the air, however the final result after an hour of whirring away was still quite tough meat (used gravy beef as per recommendation) and a very watery curry sauce. The flavours were there but the final texture was disappointing 😦

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  17. Gerry

    I’ve ccoked the Sri Lankan Red Beef Curry twice now as a self guided recipe and I find it completely amazing. The smells wafting from it was to die for. I’m Asian and I tend to do lots of SE Asian and Indian dishes. For me the Thermomix has made it easy to cook daily meals as well as many dishes for a dinner party. Just hosted 14 people on Monday night this week and I made Sri Lankan Red Beef Curry, Hainainese Chicken Rice with all the trimmings, Chickpea Curry, Lentil dahl with fried spices. Yum! And the next morning, we had sourdough bread, basic bread and mee rebus, all thermomix made. It’s the one purchase that I keep on thanking the stars that I bought it then(even though it cost me a couple of sleepless nights when I decided to buy it) and I’ve had it over 3 years, almost 4 and in that time I’ve saved over and above the cost of the thermomix.

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