My Budget Thermomix!
This is probably the best appliance I have ever purchased. Same functions as a thermomix for a fraction of the cost! Makes cooking ANYTHING a breeze and has saved me so much time and money! I would highly recommend this product to anyone wanting to test the waters of the thermo without the price tag.
Terrific.........but one little annoyance.
Loving this machine for the price. It does all my Thermomix at work does albeit a little differently in some aspects. Having the scales and reverse function onboard is terrific. Easy to operate once you've read the instructions and done it a couple of times. The one thing I don't like about it is the time dial. The machine will not work without the time dial in the positive unlike the Thermomix where no time needs to be set for the machine to work. This is really annoying especially when used to using a Thermomix before this. Also watch the suction on the legs if you want to move it - it sucks on really well to the bench. Overall though, very happy. Hope it last many years.
Money's too tight to mention "Thermomix" – Being cheap never tasted so good
Am I jinxing myself by writing a positive review only three days after bringing home a new appliance? I hope not.
Is this my first foray into C.A.C. (clandestine automated cooking)? Alas, no it isn't.
About a month ago I purchased a Thermomix wannabe knockoff from eBay. The fancy-looking 'Thermofake' quite literally worked just shy of 2 hours before it bit the dust. The 'Thermofake' was then referred to as the 'Thermofail' or the 'Thermofix'. Still, one does not simply give up because a cheapo knock-off kitchen machine drops off the perch. Instead, one angles one's chin slightly upwards, obtains a refund, purchases a presumably reliable alternative from a bricks-and-mortar retailer, and then writes a review about it.
Today is Day Three of my lazy cooking automation odyssey and I am pleased to report that the new device has not burst into flames and/or quietly died under a bush within 2 hours of unboxing it. So far I've made 4 bona fide Thermomix recipes that I have tasted before (thanks Jo!). There are many websites devoted to the problem of converting Thermomix recipes to work on Thermomix clones, but not wanting to injure my brain from all that annoying reading and thinking, I followed the four real, actual, literal, legitimate, certifiably ridgy-didge Thermomix recipes number-for-number on the Smith+Nobel machine. Some Thermoclones don't run at the same speed e.g. '4' on one machine might be a lot faster than '4' on another brand's machine which could be the difference between chopped spinach and slopped spinach. I must've done something right because the onions weren't pulverised, the scones didn't crack my teeth, tofu chunks remained chunky, mushrooms weren't decapitated, the machine didn't konk out, and nobody died from food poisoning – so far so good.
* $379.95 is MUCH easier on the eye than $1900, which brings me to my next observation...
* unlike the newest Thermomix, the S+N machine does not look like a weird prop from the original Star Trek series
* Reverse function - yes folks, the S+N can rotate the blade in reverse just like a real Thermomix - NO MORE BOWLS OF MYSTERY SLOP FOR US
* Built-in Scales... seriously, I die every time. 'Mise en place' suddenly got fun. The scales aren't a separate part either - the whole machine weighs itself so you can leave the jug in the machine to add the next ingredient for weighing, or if you want to quickly weigh something else but not put it in the jug (ingredients for another recipe, your tubby cat, your significant other's rotten socks) then you need only reset the scales, drape the cat over the Intelli Kitchen Master, weigh the cat, phone the vet in a mad panic, then use the stinky socks to shoo the cat away.
* (so far) no problems with using TM recipes as-is
* Grinding/Milling grains/pulses - Harris Scarfe's website is PAINFULLY short on detail so I bought this machine not knowing if the motor had the cojones to mill flour. Guess what... I HAVE SO MUCH WEIRD HIPPY FLOUR NOW. To rephrase, yes, the S+N machine did mill/grind lentils, chickpeas, wheat, etc. into flour. Who knew freshly-milled lentil flour was so silky and so hard to get out of carpet?
* the sound of the motor is certainly audible, but at low-to-moderate speeds it is not harsh or intrusive - these machines are a type of 4WD blender so at top speed with a steel jug filled with dried seeds, you'll want to block your ears! (Helpful Hint: use the overweight cat as hearing protection)
* There is a proper 'steam' temperature setting above the usual 37-100C range
* The 'Varoma' basket (the big UFO steamer thingy) doesn't rest on top of the existing jug lid. Instead you have to remove the regular lid and lock the base of the steaming unit directly onto the jug. If you're steaming food up top and want to stir or check anything in the jug below, this system is going to make it an awfully fiddly job. Really dumb choice, designers (but I saved $1500 so I'll get over it... eventually).
* The lid feels much MUCH harder to open and close than it should. I can imagine somebody with arthritis or mobility difficulties having a very tough time with this machine. On the plus side, you'd have to be cooking gunpowder and magnesium compote to blow the lid off while in use so I suppose a very firm-fitting lid is better than needing to get skin grafts.
* The manual suggests hand-washing the plastic components rather than sending them to the dishwasher (steamer basket, steaming trays, spatula, butterfly whisk, jug lid) – what year is this? 1084 AD?
* The scales seem to be off by +1 gram, and below 50 grams it is indecisive e.g. Using my schmick digital kitchen scales for comparison, if I add, say, 21 grams of something to the S+N jug, it registers as either 20 or 25 grams and then flits between 20 and 25. Anything under 5 grams registers as 5 grams, but putting in a 5 gram object might show 5 or 10 (again, the reading will repeatedly go to 5 or 10). I've found that from 50 grams and up the accuracy improves, so allowing for that weird mystery +1 gram, the machine's internal scales then match the fancy digital kitchen scales. Heston Blumenthal might not cope with a range of +/-5 beneath 50 grams or +1 over 50, but the rest of us will manage.
* The slowest speed (1 out of 10) seems a tiny bit too quick for gentle stirring. That's probably the case with real Thermomix machines too (I've never paid attention), but they have an additional 'soft stir' setting which is just under half the speed of '1'. Of course, at $1500 less than the real deal, my world won't end just because half a potato got dizzy.
* After stirring a rather thick risotto at speed '1' for almost 20 minutes, the motor had 3 little murmurs where it paused for ½ a second each time. There were no odd mechanical noises or 'hot electric' smells to suggest it was under excessive strain, and to be fair, the risotto was awfully thick and was being stirred with the butterfly attachment. With only the blades stirring in reverse I imagine it would have plowed along without a problem.
Hopefully I haven't angered the Kitchen Appliance Gods by writing such an early review that isn't all bad news. If the machine falls to pieces tomorrow then we'll know why, but for now I am quietly confident this S+N contraption is a winner. At under $400 with a 1-year warranty or for almost $2000 with a 2-year warranty from Thermomix, this unit from Harris Scarfe is a safe gamble. Being cheap never tasted so good.