Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Disappointing Kitchen Appliances - A Bamix Rant (Light At The End of the Tunnel/Stick Blender Love/Hate Transmission)

I recently upgraded our stick blender (sometimes called an immersion blender). And learned a lot.

First, a whinge: I bought a Bamix a few years ago – in awe of the prestige, and the wonderful reports I’d heard. It wasn't cheap, either - somewhere in the ballpark of $190 (and this was not even the top of the line model!). Upon using it, I was so terribly disappointed. Why is it that "good brands", "prestige", and "word of mouth" persevere like old wives' tales - regardless of whether it is warranted or not? Do people seriously just listen to other people and parrot the same opinion?! OR DO THEY JUST NOT KNOW ANY BETTER?!

Ultimately, I *knew* my new Bamix was just a stick blender, but the box and website claimed it would do so much more than just blend. It was claimed with the included blades you could, at minimum, beat, emulsify, cream, chop, mince, puree, strain, mix, crush, etc. Honestly, that is a load of baloney. 

The Bamix *will* puree soups/liquids, and very well. It does do some of the more esoteric/unnecessary-in-a-stick-blender things like beating, emulsifying, creaming, etc – but how well? And aren't those things easier to do by hand/with other equipment that you're already using for that particular recipe? It's like when the Vitamix tells you that it can knead dough - hysterical LOL. I bet it can, but WHY WOULD YOU KNEAD DOUGH IN THE VITAMIX?! If the lack of correct technique doesn't put you off (not slow, steady kneading - instead it's quick, jumpy, blade-slicing mixing), doesn't the mess?! Does it seem rational to have to scrape out sticky, gooey dough from the bottom of a gigantic, sharp-bladed blender?! Anyway, I digress...

Regardless, the Bamix does not chop or mince vegetables well, no matter what they tell you. I’ve tried everything. I've even tried deliriously cutting up tea-towels to use as a skirt to protect my kitchen from flying, poorly "chopped" vegetables. I've tried blending in the dark. And sadly, upon calling the company, they were very cagey and unhelpful on how to perform these functions – and little advice is available on the internet, least of all, their website. The best result I achieved when trying to “chop” carrot or onion was an uneven puree of some whilst leaving others in large chunks/watching the rest fly around the room. 

Sucker for punishment that I am, and not just content to just let their misleading claims go, I bought some of their ridiculously overpriced accessories (a couple of years ago when I bought it, the blender came with almost nothing but the stick itself), and perhaps unsurprisingly, they didn’t work particularly marvellously either. The mini processor/grinder was a), way too small to process anything of any substance, and b), didn’t do a good job. You couldn't have too little in it, or too much, and expect any consistent result. THEN, they suggest to you that for “really grinding”, you need to buy the POWDER/GRINDING DISC to put in the DAMN OTHER THING YOU JUST BOUGHT. It’s just an endless scheme of expensive accessorising.

The design of the Bamix is terrible, too. It is so dangerous – you can easily process/puree your finger/hand because safety has not even slightly been taken into account – the metal, bulged-out buttons are too easy to accidentally press when you're ordinarily holding it, and you have to pull blades on and off with your fingers wrapped around them (imagine doing that while you knock the button and it's plugged in). It also doesn’t come apart for easy cleaning. To clean it, you have to drag the whole thing, cord and all, to the sink, whilst attempting to not get the upper half wet. The design of the blade & housing also means that when you’re pureeing something hot, you regularly splash yourself, too. Charming and fun, particularly when you’re making a coulis, jam, etc. I love hot sticky splashes that burn your skin slowly but surely. I always wanted pink freckles (not).

Bamix. All one piece, top-heavy, solid. But check out those hard to avoid, easy to knock buttons.

The Bamix will last in the long-run. It has a great motor and is quite sturdy, but, if you’re being reasonable about what you can expect from a stick blender – you don’t need something this expensive/impractical.

Solution: Let There Be Light! A Cordless, Stick-Blending Light!
BUT - the wonderment of life and Christmas-time meant that I decided it was time for an upgrade. Call me selfish, but buying presents for so many other people makes me much more willing to buy myself a "present". For so long, I've wanted a cordless stick blender. 

All I can say is - just do it. Take the plunge. We got a Braun 7 series stick blender rather inexpensively from a major department store, and for around $80 (HALF the price of my Bamix). The pack included a mini food processor attachment that was at least double, if not triple, the size of the Bamix attachment I had to *buy*, and with a better, more useful blade. Even the included Beaker was bigger than the Bamix.  And it wasn't overkill. I don't need a stick blender to come with 10 power settings, a whisk, a dough hook, and everything else - I just need something to do what it says on the box.
Braun in charging dock (without the blade! Because that has been taken away, for washing! HOW PRACTICAL!)

The design of the Braun is so much better - the metal around the blade is built in a wavy pattern, meaning that it doesn't splash you - no matter how small the amount you're blending is. And you can take it ANYWHERE with you, because it is cordless (it recharges from a "docking station"). I could bring it to work, if I wanted! I could puree shirts in a Department store, if I wanted (OH NO WHERE WILL THIS END?!). And the metal blade half comes off, for easy washing/immersion in the sink without worrying about the electrics up top - and you can recharge the top part WHILE you wash the bottom part!

In terms of safety, it's also much better. The cordless nature of the Braun meant that it *could* have been much more dangerous, but they've cleverly designed it so you have to hold a "lock" down, whilst pressing the "on" button at the exact same time. It requires a deliberate light pressure (unlike the Bamix), but is still easy and uncomplicated to do.

Don't get me wrong - I still love kitchen appliances. All of them, even the impractical ones. Ultimately, I don't necessarily expect an appliance to perform miracles. I just wish companies would be more honest and realistic about what their products will actually do. Overall, I'm much happier with the Braun, and could have saved myself a lot of money from the outset with the bonus of a more functional device.. Now - don't get me started on the mystique/practicality of the Vitamix...

Of course, the evening after I wrote this only semi-literate rant, I was making Dreena Burton's excellent Thai Chickpea Almond Curry.   As I was doing it, I had to open a giant new container of nut butter. And you know how the oil is always at the top, and it's not mixed through well? Easy, I thought, as I grabbed my Braun and attempted to blend the peanut butter back into a consistent mix. It turned out that it wasn't quite that easy. The Braun really struggled, and didn't really mix it well, whereas the Bamix would have not had the slightest problem performing this task quickly, and consistently. So, the Universe has a sense of humour. Even if I don't. GOOD THING I HAVEN'T GIVEN AWAY THE BAMIX YET, RIGHT?! RIGHT?! *manic laughter*.

So, of course, after about 5 uses, the Braun stick-blender has completely died, and won't charge, or hold charge. I guess it's now time to return it and consider another brand.

Just to prove I never learn - I'm now considering a Dyson vacuum...

Have you been duped by the prestige of kitchen appliances? What is your philosophy when it comes to purchasing these kind of things?


  1. Many years ago I had a cheaper vacuum cleaner. Then I upgraded to a Dyson in 2003 and it's still one of my favourite purchases. My mum has a 'good' vacuum cleaner, she vacuumed with it then I immediately went over it all with the Dyson and the Dyson barrel was full of dirt afterwards. So Dyson wins my vote :)

    Mum has a Bamix stick blender from years ago and you're right, there's not much you can do with it despite the marketing claims!

    My one big splurge, with no regrets, was a Blendtec blender when it was on special somewhere (but still cost over $700). To date I'd bought cheaper blenders that all crapped it too quickly and they couldn't handle ice and they'd leave big chunks of stuff. I'm in love with my Blendtec and I can sneak all kinds of veg, like spinach, in to smoothies with no telltale bits floating around. I use it for juices, smoothies, grinding, pureeing, for nut milks, dressings. I don't know if I'd ever use an appliance like that to knead dough, much prefer doing that by hand :)

    1. I would LOVE a Blendtec. Wish we'd got one instead of a Vitamix. I'm soon going to be working in a commercial kitchen, and let me tell you - it'll be Blendtec all the way!!

      And I covet a Dyson!!

  2. I always want everything but fortunately I have moderately good control and I'm also cheap. I research extravagantly before I buy, but you never really know until you get the thing home whether it will live up to the hype. My kitchenAide blender, in my opinion, didn't work well and self-destructed way too soon. The vacuum we bought after extensive research (not Dyson) drives us a little nuts. The stick blender I picked up in a resale shop for $6 works great and I love it. Go figure. I do love my Vitamix most of the time but sometimes I wonder if I should have bought a Blentec. (Not being able to make up my mind is another problem.) Right now I'm looking for a hand mixer and new dishes. I would probably stir the nut butter with a knife.

    1. Ha. Some of it definitely comes down to luck! My *OLD* Kitchenaid Blender (maybe about 5 or 6 years, now?) was really, really good - best thing outside of a BlendTec or Vitamix, but after getting the Vitamix, it doesn't really come close!! I would definitely next time get a Blendtec. I feel your pain!!

      The problem with the nut butter here is they pack it right up to the top - so the oil spills out over the sides... not good!

  3. We got a stick blender for $5 from a garage sale, and it's always been pretty great for our needs! A removable blade for washing would be nice, but I never really considered that until now. I would love to get a vacuum-cleaner-robot, because we have a lot of cat, dog and human hair around our house and I kind of hate vacuuming, but for now the price tag puts me off!

    1. I would looooooove one of those robots - I can imagine our little devil-cat Sylvia riding around the house on it. But the reviews say they work really poorly, sadly :(

  4. I'm very glad I read this as I had been lusting after a Bamix when my cheapy stick blender gives up. I think the problem is always as you point out when things try to be too multifunctional. I love my Vitamix for sauces, smoothies, pureed soups and grinding, but find the design impractical for either small amounts or sticky things (I would buy a very small container for it like a shot, if one existed). And, i just do the PB thing with a fork! :)

    1. Agreed! I have the smaller container which is great, but the dry one is terrible! Doesn't work. And can you believe in the Vitamix guide, they encourage you to "knead dough" in there? LOL

  5. You must read this. Timely :)


    1. Ha! Yes... the Bamix one nearly took James' hand off the other day. Thank goodness most of the newer ones have great safety features.

  6. I love my hand held blender - think it might be a braun - I had lusted after a blender that came with a proper beaker and finally worked out that I could buy a cheap tall thing plastic jug and it would work as well. But now I really want a cordless one because the cord always never quite reaches far enough - and I use the little mini blender attachment quite a bit so this has become essential too

    1. The mini processor was seriously the kicker for me - that's what I want! Our proper processor is in the commercial kitchen - oh how I miss it!

  7. I hope you all saw that the damn Braun died after 5 uses.. now i'm onto a Breville!

  8. So here comes a reality check Matt.

    I am a bamix user for many years.

    Of course the bamix can chop vegetables. It is not a Japanese Samurai sword giving you exact 10mm cubes..it is a stick blender and it chops things up for you. simple.

    It can also whip....cream takes about 15secs...do that with a braun...oh yes it's dead.

    it does also blend very well. i make mayonnaise in around 30 secs.

    cutting fingers?..the book tells you to unplug before changing the blades. do you hit the car in front before coming to a stop in traffic? no you stop before that can happen..its called safety.

    the "safety" guard around other stick blenders is useless...try pureeing chuncky soup..nothing longer than 5cm can get pureed.

    taking the whole lot to the sink to clean?..do your other appliances float on a magic carpet to the sink?

    you say overkill? my bamix is only a 140watt and still goes faster than the other brands who have motors with wattages that belong on a 747 rolls royce engine. that i believe is quiet energy saving.

    all in all, the biggest thing for me is that Bamix invented the stick blender and is still made in switzerland...with a 20 year motor warranty...

    good luck with the breville..dont throw your receipt.

  9. Have you written about your Vitamix disappointment elsewhere? I'd love to hear the details, since I've been looking forward to buying one in the distant future. (I've been disappointed by the Bamix, which is how I came across your page!)

  10. Well I have to disagree about the Bamix...we made peanut butter from peanuts in less than 2 minutes.Using the slicey we cut cucumbers lettuce and cabbage and carrots,then grated carrots and cheeseand chocolate.We made a smoothie then a milkshake then crushed ice then made ice cream.We ground coffee beans and rice into rice flour,sugar into icing sugar.Chppoed nuts easily.Made soup in the saucepan and because of the *sucking in* there was no splashes at all.We made mayo,chopped herbs.I loved it..now this machine was the most expensive but I have to say I was VERY impressed.Each to their own experience I guess

  11. The BAMIX was very highly recommended by an acquaintance who had been through a bunch of other such appliances through the years. Hubbie bought her a BAMIX 15 years ago and she's passionate about it. I tried it out when making a very large batch of Caesar dressing for a public event. It was lightweight, very ergonomic to arthritic hands and had lightning speed. TOTALLY easy to clean. I am tossing my clumsy Wolfgang-Puck-That's-Always-Sucked & saving up for a BAMIX.

  12. When I use my bamix, I prepare a tall beaker filled with soapy warm water and have it on the bench. When want to clean my bamix I put it in the beaker and give it a wiz and it is clean. It even cleans after mashed sweet potato. I need a new chopping blade cause I have worn it out!


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