I'm also interested in buying a Vita-Mix. What can you tell me about which model is best for an adventurous home cook?
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Vita-Mixes are really cool and great for heavy-duty usage, especially in a commercial kitchen. If you're not making things commercially, though, you may want to consider one of the slightly cheaper knock-off brands. My aunt gave me a HealthMaster:
It's essentially the same as a basic Vita-Mix, but cheaper. I used a Vita-Mix when I worked at a bakery and we made everything in it from banana bread to hummus to chopped nuts to soup. I use it for all those things in my kitchen at home, but of course it only gets used 2-3 times a week (instead of 4-5 times a day). I've had it for almost a year and it still shows no signs of breaking down. I love the plunger that keeps food blending and not sticking to the sides.
I would recommend that you look into the reviews for different models of both Vita-Mix and some of the other cheaper ones. Think about what you want to use it for, how much you'd use it, and make your decision based on that. Good luck! They're tons of fun to have in the kitchen.
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First, sell your car and then your newborn. Because these things are expensive. If you are up to that level, well have at it. If you are not a pro or semi-pro stick with a KitchenAid or equivalent.
The Vitamix Pro is an incredible machine that will power through and blend whatever you put in its way. With that said it does come with a nice $500 price tag.
What are you primarily looking to make with the blender? Your answer can dictate what style or type of machine you would need.
For practical home use I purchased the Waring Pro Blender, available at http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-58206/Waring-Pro-MBB-Series-Stainless-Steel-Blender
It has a strong and heavy stainless steel base so it doesn't rattle or shake. And it's a simple professional design with an on/off/pulse switch. And at 500 watts it is powerful enough to make any smoothie, herb oil, or puree. At a competitive price (~$100), professional style and strong engine, this machine is my favorite and does all that I ask it to.
My teenage son and I love smoothies and blending the ice tore up my KitchenAid blender-- twice. I bit the bullet for the VitaMix 5200 and don't regret it at all, but I did go for the RECONDITIONED model. Saved me about $80. Same 7 yr. warranty, beautiful blender and no problems at all! Take care to avoid the Costco special branded model since I think the warranty is shorter than the 5200.
I think the VitaMix Pro has a shorter warranty too. That's why I suggest the 5200 for hm use.