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I can be the world's worst person for buying gadgets that are used several times before they are relegated to the back of a cupboard never to be seen again. It was with this thought in mind that had delayed me in purchasing a smoothie maker but when our blender broke recently I wanted to replace that and decided to take the plunge by getting a unit i could use as a blender but also as a smoothie maker. I also wanted to provide the family with tasty, but healthy drinks. I didn't really do much research into the different models available but I picked this up for £34.99 on a spur of the moment.
>>>> Packaging and Contents: <<<< The smoothie maker is well protected in a clear bag with polystyrene at the bottom and the top. All this in turn is then in a standard cardboard box with pictures of the smoothie maker. I didn't feel that the packaging was excessive and of course the box can be recycled.
As well as the smoothie maker, you get the instruction manual and guarantee/warranty card as well as a recipe booklet which gives you 27 recipes to get started with.
>>>> The Smoothie Maker: <<<< The unit has a 500w motor and the jug will hold 1.5 litres of liquid. None of the parts are disk washer safe, so hand washing only.
The smoothie maker itself is extremely easy to put together. The main base unit is in one piece and you put the jug in top of it. The jug consists of several pieces. You get the jug itself and a tap to screen onto it. You cannot over tighten this tap as there is a plastic marker on the tap and the jug to stop you doing that. The blade unit is in one piece which screws onto the bottom of the jug (which a removable rubber seal going in-between). There is also the lid with a small removable cap in the middle. And lastly a long stirrer.
All if the bits are very easy to remove and clean although I recommend you do it straight after using as a lot of the residue will rinse straight off.
The instructions say not to immerse the blade unit in water, although I do not think there are any moving parts in the area, so I imagine that is for safety reasons.
>>>> Using the thing: <<<< If you have never used a smoothie maker before the recipe book gives you some ideas on how to use it. An important thing to remember is that all the liquids go in first and the other ingredients on top. You then use the "mix" button on the unit which seems to be the slower speed setting and then you use the "smoothie" setting which is where you experience the one and only bad point about this device… the noise.
The noise is like an aircraft taking off. It is extremely noisy and so I would not recommend making smoothies late at night, unless you have no neighbours and no one in your household is in bed asleep. That said, this is only used for about 20 seconds and so does not last that long, although it will be the longest, loudest 20 seconds that you might of experienced in quite a while.
For harder ingredients such as carrots you need to grate them, or chop them up very small before using.
I also found that some of the thicker liquids are loathe to come out if you use the tap, you can of course lift the entire jug off and pour it out as if from a normal blender or you can run the machine in mix and the force of the mixing makes it come out of the tap, although be wary not to run this for longer than 60 seconds
>>>> Things not to do: <<<< In the instructions it warns you not to blend dry ingredients (spices or nuts etc), or run the unit empty. I think if you crush down items like nuts and put them in a liquid that is ok, but never without an accompanying liquid.
The instructions also advise never to use continuously for longer 60 seconds, and never blend food that has formed into a solid mass whilst freezing; you need to break it down into ice cube sized chunks.
>>>> Example recipes: <<<< The recipe book (and even the instruction manual) outlines a comprehensive list of recipes to try. Before I list a couple I want to mention that you can blend hot items such as soups although you need to wait for the liquid to cool using, and of course clean out straight away as you may contaminate your smoothie with the flavour of any soup that you have mixed.
Watermelon Cocktail (serves 3) 200ml red orange juice 0.25 watemelon flesh (pips removed) Mint sprigs to garnish
Pour orange into the jug, remove seeds from watermelon and chop the flesh, add to the jug. blend on mix for 10 seconds and then on smooth for 20 seconds. Serve
Mango, Pineapple and Passion Fruit Smoothie (serves 2)
300ml freshly squeezed orange juice 1 ripe mango. Peeled, stone and chopped 0.25 pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped 0.5 flesh of a passion fruit
Put juice in the jug, and fruit and mix for 15 seconds, then smooth for 20 seconds, serve.
>>>> Smoothies Vs Juicers <<<< Smoothie's tend to have a thicker consistency than a juice from a juicer, because anything you put in can come out in the liquid (including the skin from fruit and vegetables) whereas in a juicer the skin is left in the unit with only the juice being extracted. I also found that certain drinks that juice well do not necessarily smooth well.
For example I juice up 2 apples, 1 orange and a plum with about 200 ml of spring water. This is a nice refreshing juice, but I found the same items way too pulpy when used in the smoothie maker.
>>>> Final thoughts: <<<< I really enjoy using my smoothie maker. All the family love the refreshing and tasty juices that it can create and your possibilities are endless. The only real downside is the noise, but if you're looking for a smoothie maker then I have no hesitation in recommending this unit.
As with all things you need to store it properly, the jug is only plastic and easily breakage if you drop it or if something heavy hits it when in storage.
If you want more information you can find a data sheet 9in PDF Format) here: http://www.kenwoodworld.com/datasheets/SB256--SB256.DS.pdf
Kenwood's website is here : http://www.kenwoodworld.com/uk/product_detail.php?cat=266&id=196