Blenders are pretty straight forward machines. Depending on the type you have, you either put the food in the jug and push the lid on, or you put the food in the jug and screw the lid on. The first has blades in the jug; the second has blades in the lid. Both are placed on top of the blender base and off you go.
There’s a few things I’ve learned over the past few years though, that make your blender experience even easier.
Clean your blender straightaway
I’m the worst at this, but it makes it soooo much easier to clean. Usually I do my at-home yoga session, and half-way though I’ll remember I forgot to eat that morning and now I’m really hungry. I’ll blend up a smoothie to nourish and feed those achy muscles; now I want to drink it as soon as possible before my muscles starve of protein; I’d hate to just have done those cruel ab exercises for nothing!
Now I force myself to sit down and drink it – eating on the go causes havoc in your digestive system since it’s still in ‘fight or flight’ mode. As much as I’d like to get the washing, the dishwashing and the sweeping done while having my smoothie, I really try to sit down for at least a little bit. Big mistake here though – I didn’t clean the blender! Now it’s caked on and I have to soak it or awkwardly scrub it with a dish brush which never seems to quite get in all the spots, or it gets cut by the blender blades.
Blenders, like my Optimum 9400, and the Vitamix 5200 (pic above) advertise a ‘self-cleaning’ function. This does not work for me. I don’t have mains water here, so it comes from our water tank. I didn’t want to fill the whole jug with water and run it for so many minutes. Besides, I didn’t feel it came out very clean anyway. Maybe I didn’t let it run long enough, who knows, but I’m happier with my manual clean. The noise is quite present too – it’s much more peaceful to just give it a quick rinse with hot water straightaway, maybe a quick scrub with a bit of dishwashing soap if there’s anything stubborn stuck to the sides.
2. Use as small a jug as possible
Bullet blenders, like the Nutri Ninja, the NutriBullet and my newly pre-ordered (YAY!) Optimum Nutriforce Extractor, are great because they come with small jugs/containers. However, a lot of the big blenders, like my Optimum 9400, come with only a giant jug. It’s huge! Great for pumpkin soup; not great for smoothies for just me, or me and my 4 year old. In the big jugs, food goes up the sides and you end up with only half of it blendered.
I purchased the smaller 750ml jug to go with my blender – cleaning is now so much easier and it’s plenty big enough for our smoothies. Vitamix makes a smaller jug too, although not as small as the Optimum, 900ml vs. 750ml. A very worthwhile investment for me.
3. Buy a spatula
If you don’t have a spatula, get one today. You’d be surprised how much more smoothie you get out of the blender, and how easy it is with a spatula, compared to trying to get it out with a spoon. Metal spoons can also damage the blades or make them blunt. I’m using a Pyrex silicone one at the moment, which is great to work with and does the job, but I recommend keeping a spare as they can get cut quite easily by the blades. No more wasted smoothie!
4. Be mindful of the ingredient order
You really can just chuck all your ingredients in and it will be just fine. However, I find if you stick to the right order you’ll reduce the chance of things like powders and light ingredients being flung up, where they get stuck on the sides. Also, by starting with your liquids, the blender is going to run much more smoothly, without ‘dry chopping’, where the blades go round but no-one’s home.
Start with your liquids, like yoghurt, milk, juice and honey. Follow with soft, light ingredients, like seeds, protein powder and other supplements. End with other ingredients, like your greens, fruits, nuts etc. The liquid on the bottom will ensure you’ll get a nice twister going inside the jug, and it will pull everything down. No powder up the sides! That’s important when some protein powders for example cost $80-90 for a kilo.
5. Don’t use the dishwasher
Short and sweet – don’t put your blender parts, jugs etc. in the dishwasher – it’s no good for the plastics and seals. I used to put the jug & blades of my cheapy blender in the dishwasher, and it now won’t screw on properly, doesn’t seal etc. You don’t want to spend good money on a blender and have it ruined in the dishwasher!