Monday, October 28, 2013

My New Vortex Hand Crank Blender

I got a new Vortex Blender for my birthday this year. I will admit I was very excited to get it. That is, until I used it.

I read all the reviews I could find on this product so I thought I had a good understanding of what to expect. Some of the reviews said the blender leaked from its base, around the blades.There is an O ring in the base to prevent leaks. I didn't know before I saw the blender, but I now know it is a design flaw.  The O ring isn't sized correctly. I really don't understand why the makers of the blender don't fix it, but that is a subject for another day.

So having known that this thing has problems leaking, you may be thinking "Why did you buy it?" Well, there were a lot of reviews that said it didn't leak. There will always be a few defective products made (it is the nature of the production process), even with a good design. I thought that is what some of these people experienced.

In my line of business, I am constantly forced to adapt to unworkable situations with what are called 'workarounds'. A workaround is a procedure or process you can use to bypass the defect in the tool or 'system'. Sometimes you must get really creative to get a workaround to be successful in a business process! I put my business experience to work on my blender design flaw and I found a workaround that, for the present moment, appears to be working. 

Let me show you my new blender. Here are all the pieces, right out of the box and bags.

It was easy to set up.  It doesn't take more than a minute to set up or break down.

I wanted this blender to make smoothies. (Shaking the mixture in a closed container doesn't cut it when you are trying to make a fruit smoothie.) I do have other plans for its use, but this is the primary one. 

Put everything in the blender...

And turn the crank.

There are two speeds, slow and 'fast'. The fast speed isn't really fast but it is faster than the slow speed. I would call it about even with the 'mix'  or 'blend' setting on an electric blender. ('Puree' speed isn't available here!)

Pour into a cup and enjoy!

 I didn't realize the base was leaking until I went to pour the smoothie into a cup. A few drops of the smoothie dripped on the counter. It wasn't a bad leak, it was just a few drops. I washed out the blender and turned it upside down to dry. More drips appeared from the base plate. I tried to get in between the blender and the base plate with a paper towel to dry it off, but it didn't work. The paper towel soaked up the water, but it still continued to seep out from the base plate. Again, not a lot but enough to be an annoyance. 

While I was trying to decide if I should send the blender back, I came up with the workaround. Let me explain what I think caused it to leak in the first place. I made the smoothie with kefir milk. I poured the milk into the blender and went to get the strawberries that I picked from the garden. That is when Molly came in to see me and tell me she needed attention. (She currently has an infected ear and is on antibiotics.) It was time for her dinner and medication and she was tired of waiting! So, I turned my attention to her. I left the milk in the blender and put the blender in the refrigerator. When I was finished with Molly, I went back to the blender and made the smoothie. The milk sat in the blender for about 20 minutes total. Plenty of time for it to slip under the O ring and leak out of the bottom.

So the first process change I made was to not let the liquid sit in the blender for too long. (An idiotic notion for a $100 blender, I admit!) The next change I made was to add all the powder ingredients (if there are any in the smoothie) first. Since I usually add a teaspoon or two of stevia to the smoothie mix anyway, I now do it first. Then the fruit, then add the milk last. Quickly turn the crank and get it blended. Immediately pour into cups. My smoothie recipe makes enough for two. If my husband happens to be traveling for work the next time I use the blender, I am going to need to put the extra smoothie into a different container and store in the refrigerator.

I have made smoothies a few times now and the workaround appears to be a successful fix. The question I must ask myself now: "Is the workaround worth it for a blender that my husband paid almost $100 for, or should I send it back?"

I haven't decided what to do yet. I won't use it anymore unless I decide to keep it. The problem is, I can't buy an alternative. There isn't another manufacturer for this product, and an alternative brand isn't available. I fully understand that a hand crank blender isn't a product in high demand by the general public. 

At this moment in time, what I can say is that unless you are a hard core, off-the-grid homesteader, I recommend you skip this product and stick with your electric blender.

December 2013 Update: I have decided to keep my blender. The workaround has been quite successful and I have not experienced any additional leaking from the bottom. Still, it is a real pain in the butt to have to do this for a $100 blender. Therefore, I CANNOT recommend this product for purchase. Maybe someday, someone will make a hand crank blender that really works!

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