You know how once you've finally gone and done something, you look back in hindsight and kick yourself for not doing it sooner? That's how I feel now that I finally own a Vitamix blender.
I'd coveted a Vitamix for as long as I can remember, but never thought I could justify the expense. I mainly used my blender to make morning smoothies, so I spent years buying cheap model after cheap model (in the $50 range), thinking they were good enough to carry out such a basic task.
But for all the poorly blended smoothies I drank with huge chunks of kale and ice in them, and for all the blenders I had to retire after only a year, I could've just bought a Vitamix and saved money and avoided sad smoothies from the start.
But enough dwelling on my past foolishness! Because last March I finally got my Vitamix. To be fair, I received it as a gift for my 30th orbit around the sun (thanks, Mom!) — but I would've bought it for myself had it not appeared in a box on my doorstep the morning of my birthday. (Yes, moms are truly the best.)
The Explorian E310 Series
I first heard of Vitamix's new Explorian E310 when I read this article on Bon Appétit's Healthyish. The blender retails for $350, making it Vitamix's most affordable option (not including Certified Refurbished blenders). Note: My mom snagged the E310 on sale for $299, and I saw similar price drops around the holidays!
Despite the lower price point, this blender still has all the benefits Vitamix is known for, like a five-year full warranty, high-performance motor, and an easy self-cleaning function. The E310 has fewer bells and whistles than most Vitamix blenders, with only three controls from left to right: a Pulse switch, a Speed dial, and an On/Off switch. According to Vitamix, the Pulse feature allows you to "layer coarse chops over smooth purées for heartier recipes, such as chunky salsas or thick vegetable soups." (I have yet to try this feature.)
The 48-ounce container is also slightly smaller, compared to other Vitamix models. This size "is ideal for blending medium batches for small family meals," according to Vitamix.
What I Think of My E310 Explorian Vitamix 7 Months Later
Right off the bat, I'll say that this machine is extremely easy to use. I like how simple the controls are, and I love that the container and lid are dishwasher-safe. I've tried the self-cleaning function (blend warm water and a drop of dish soap at highest speed for 60 seconds) a few times, but nine times out of 10 I just throw it in the dishwasher since I run it every day. Given how frequently the parts have gone through the dishwasher, I'd say the pieces are holding up really nicely.
In terms of the container size, I've never had any issues with liquids spilling over or having to do multiple batches. I do only make food for my family of two, though, so that might change if I'm blending something for a larger group at a dinner party.
I've outlined the ways I've used the machine most frequently so far below, but these are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the E310 can do!
For my first Vitamix smoothie, I followed the company's suggestion to add the ingredients in the following order: liquids, soft fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, frozen ingredients, nuts and seeds.
I poured coconut water into the container until it reached 1 cup, dropped in a whole peeled banana, layered on about 1/2 cup washed and roughly torn lacinato kale, and topped with a handful of ice cubes and flax seeds. Then I flicked the machine to "On," set the speed to Variable 1, and slowly increased to its highest speed. After 45 seconds I had a perfectly creamy, bright-green smoothie waiting for me.
I've been making a variation of that smoothie every morning since that first day, and I still am so pleased with how smooth I am able to get the kale and ice!
I've made a few staple sauces in my Vitamix so far and, just like with smoothies, they always come out impossibly smooth. My favorite sauce to make by far is a homemade peanut sauce. I'll blend up a mixture of coconut aminos, a knob of fresh peeled ginger, a clove of peeled garlic, a juice of a lime, and a big scoop of creamy peanut butter and the result is better than anything I've purchased bottled at the store. When I don't have peanut butter, I've successfully subbed in some raw cashews and hot water and it still blends up into a thick, creamy sauce.
As soon as fresh tomatoes were in season this summer, I practically lived off gazpacho. I blended up some tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, shallot, garlic, sherry vinegar, and olive oil and was left with beautifully smooth, orange-red gazpacho. After blending I chilled the soup right in the container for about an hour in the fridge, and then easily poured it into bowls for serving when I was ready.
Now that the weather is getting cooler, I've been making my favorite warm tomato soup recipe too. I start by sautéing everything in a pan on the stovetop, transfer the ingredients to the blender, and then blend until smooth. The blender does have the functionality, however, to add raw ingredients to a blender and actually "cook" (read: warm) the soup if you run it on the highest setting for six minutes. I'm eager to try that out this fall and winter!
My go-to nut milk to make at home is cashew milk because it doesn't require any straining. I've been making cashew milk for years, in all sorts of blenders, but the biggest difference my Vitamix makes is that I don't need to soak the cashews overnight to soften them first. If I'm craving cashew milk, I can simply blend some raw cashews and filtered water on the highest speed and voila! Perfectly smooth, creamy cashew milk in less than a minute with no prior planning or soaking.
I've made the same flourless oat and banana pancakes in a blender for years, so I couldn't wait to see how they turned out in the Vitamix. As you might suspect, the batter comes out super smooth. (Are you noticing a theme yet?) There are no visible shards of oats — just silky, pourable batter that transforms into light and airy pancakes after a stint in a kiss of coconut oil in a hot skillet.
The One Drawback of This Vitamix
Most of my previous (cheap) blenders were pretty sleek and low-profile, so they could fit on my countertops. My Vitamix, however, is too tall and bulky to sit permanently on my countertops. I store it in a lower cabinet and pull out the heavy appliance each time I need it. I have to blend towards the front edge of my counters, because my upper cabinets would hit the top of the blender otherwise. Could I leave the base on the counter at all times and store the container underneath? Yes, but the base is not aesthetically pleasing to me, so I'd rather hide it away. A small price to pay for non-chunky kale smoothies, though!
Final verdict: I love my Vitamix and I don't know why I suffered through so many bad blenders before it. I would highly recommend this model to someone who wants the quality and reliability of a Vitamix but doesn't need it for anything beyond simple basics.
Do you have this Vitamix model? Do you love it as much as I do? Let me know in the comments?