‘The World’s Smallest, Smartest Kitchen’
(according to Vorwerk)
Thermomix might be one of the most talked about kitchen appliances since the invention of the microwave oven. There appears to be two opinions; either ‘love it’ or ‘not worth it’. If you haven’t heard about it – where have you been!? – a Thermomix is a multifunction kitchen appliance (also known as an all-in-one kitchen machine); made up of a metal bowl with a heating element and a blade that can cut, mix, blend and stir.
TM5 is the current model, which retails for $2,089. I have the older TM31 and paid only $50 less for mine in 2014. Personally, I love mine. I use it nearly every day, and sometimes use it multiple times per day. Out of 17 friends who own a Thermomix, only one said they don’t ever use it and regrets purchasing it. Most said they use it at least three-to-four times per week, and all but two said they do not regret purchasing it.
Thermomix was created by German company, Vorwerk in 1971. The idea came from the managing director of Vorwek France, where thick soups were popular. A machine that could cook and blend simultaneously was designed, and the original Thermomix VM2000 was launched. Since then, there has been another six models produced, with the TM31 and TM5 the most recent. The main difference between these two models is the TM5 is a digital machine, with recipe chips and guided cooking (it tells you when to add ingredients, and what speed/temperature to use), a larger mixing bowl and steamer, with a higher maximum temperature of 120°C. The TM31 is a manual machine with push buttons, maximum temperature of 100°C and can do the same things as the TM5.
What can Thermomix do?
According to thermomix.com.au, the ‘most advanced kitchen appliance around’ combines 12 appliances into one compact unit. It can cook, steam, mill & grind, emulsify, whip, mix, stir, blend, knead, chop, heat and weigh! Here are just a few examples of what the Thermomix can do, and I personally have done every one of these in my Thermomix:
- Steam meat, fish, vegetables and fruit
- Puree vegetables and fruits
- Blend smoothies, milkshakes, cake mixes, soups and sauces
- Crush ice and frozen fruit, blend into sorbet
- Cook rice and pasta
- Boil and simmer liquids like sauces and soups
- Stew meat, vegetables and fruit
- Chop vegetables, fruits, herbs and nuts
- Mince meat (didn’t work well for me, I will stick with buying mince)
- Grind coffee beans, spices, sugar and nuts
- Knead dough
- Mill wheat, rice, nuts and grains into flour
- Cook custard
- Whisk eggs
- Grate hard cheese and chocolate
- Emulsify mayonnaise & salad dressings
- Weigh liquids and solids
- Keep heat at a set temperature for cheese, yogurt and delicate sauces like hollandaise
What can’t Thermomix do?
- Bake or roast. It will boil and simmer, but can’t do it dry.
- Fry. If you like to brown your meat before cooking in liquid, you will need to do this in a saucepan first.
- Pressure cook or slow cook. It has a big hole in the lid to let steam escape, so does not seal like a pressure cooker. The timer only goes up to 60 minutes at a time, so if you want to cook for longer than this you will need to re-set the timer.
- Make ice cream. You can blend it in the Thermomix but need to start with frozen ingredients.
What do I mostly use my Thermomix for?
- Steamed veggies, to go alongside meat that I’ve cooked in the traditional (oven or stovetop) way.
- Rice. I don’t cook rice any other way now. It always turns out perfect, and I usually cook some veggies in the steamer at the same time.
- Boiled eggs. I do six-eight at a time, but have heard you can cook up to 12 at a time.
- Mixing cakes and biscuits, both packet mixes and from scratch.
- Milling and grinding spices, making fresh curry pastes and marinades.
- Cooking soup. Our favourite is pumpkin soup. I roughly chop some pumpkin, onion, carrot, and potato, chuck it all in with some stock and within 20 minutes of walking in the door I have fresh, homemade pumpkin soup on the table.
I don’t cook complete meals in it very often, but when I do I tend to steam some veggies and fish or marinated chicken in the top, with rice or potatoes in the bottom.
What do I love about it?
- I can set the timer to cook, and go away and do something else. This is especially great on school nights so I can get tea started and then help the kids with their homework while tea is cooking.
- It’s dishwasher safe. I refuse to buy any appliance that’s supposed to make my life easier if it can’t go in the dishwasher!
- It doesn’t take up much space on my bench so I can leave it out so it’s ready to go when I need it.
- There are loads of great books, blogs and websites dedicated to Thermomix recipes. I’ve provided links to some of my favourites below.
What don’t I love about it?
- Having to re-set the timer after 60 minutes if cooking for longer periods.
- It doesn’t turn itself off when the time is done. The temperature turns off but it will continue stirring and beeping.
- Cleaning it after kneading dough or cooking things like white sauce or custard.
- The price. It is expensive. If they didn’t offer the interest free, monthly payment option I would not have been able to afford it.
There are lots of all-in-one kitchen appliances available in Australia today. Just a few of Thermomix’s competitors are Magimix Cook Expert ($2,099), Tefal Cuisine Companion ($1,699), Optimum ThermoCook Pro ($1,600), BioChef MyCook BCMC ($899) and Bellini Supercook Kitchen Master ($699). I have not used any of these, therefore can not comment on them. See here for some reviews and comparisons from Choice Review and Product Review.
More recently, Thermomix has been under scrutiny after an ACCC investigation lead to Thermomix being handed a hefty $4.6 million fine. Investigations found the Australia branch of Thermomix violated consumer law by failing to warn Thermomix owners about a serious safety risk. The TM31 model had a faulty sealing ring on its mixing bowl, which according to Choice Australia caused at least 35 serious scalding injuries.
The original sealing ring was recalled, and a replacement was sent to all affected customers. Following a Federal Court judgment in April 2017, Thermomix issued a formal apology and offered a new TM5 to the 9443 customers who bought a TM31 between 7 July 2014 and 23 September 2014. I purchased my Thermomix in February, so I’m not one of those lucky (or unlucky?) customers who purchased a Thermomix in the specified period so I won’t be getting sent a free upgrade. I haven’t had problems with my lid splashing liquid out, but I do have trouble getting it to close sometimes; it takes a bit of effort to get it to click into place and my children can’t get it to lock. It sometimes pops open while the machine is going, but as soon as this happens it stops turning and has not splashed out. I have emailed Thermomix customer service about this and am still waiting for a response. In the meantime, I’m still using (and loving) my Thermomix as usual.
So, is it worth it?
For me, YES! I use mine all the time, and have given away or thrown out seven appliances that my Thermomix replaced (rice cooker, blender, electric beater, steamer set, mortar and pestle, bread maker and scales).
However, I think it really depends on what you want to get out of it. For someone who likes basic food, for example a piece of meat with salad or veggies for tea; or doesn’t make a lot of cakes, biscuits, or slices; or if you love the whole cooking process and enjoy spending lots of time in the kitchen, then you might not use it much. On the other hand, if you don’t like cooking and spending a lot of time in the kitchen; or love cooking and want to be more efficient; enjoy cooking from scratch with whole foods; or have allergies, then I think you would get good value from a Thermomix.
I read somewhere that you’ll use your Thermomix just as often, if not more, than you use your oven. I easily use it more than my oven, and I sometimes use it several times a day – which makes it worth every cent in my opinion.