The new TM5 Thermomix – First Impressions

Categories: Musings
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Comments: 3 Comments
Published on: September 5, 2014
 

I’ve been meaning to do my own review of the Thermomix TM31 for a while, I just haven’t gotten around to it.  Anyway, I’ve had the TM31 for over 2 years now and I use it fairly regularly, although I don’t use it for everyday cooking (which is what the majority use it for).  You will have seen in quite a few of my recipes, I resort to the Thermomix, particularly for the more technical dishes.  I also use it for the more mundane stuff so I don’t need to keep an eye on it, freeing me to deal with other elements in a dish.  I would say in the 2 years I have had the Thermomix it has been an invaluable tool.  So now Vorwerk have developed a new Thermomix, the TM5. I had expected a new Thermomix, even when I first bought the TM31 I had a feeling a new one wouldn’t be too far away.  Vorwerk released the TM31 after the TM21 and there was a fairly significant gap between the two, about 10 years I believe.  What I read at the time suggested the TM31 was about 10 years old, so I was in two minds if I should wait for the next model (it would have been a long wait).  But now, at long last, it is here…

TM5_compare

The thing that strikes me most is they really seem to be pushing the recipe chips, no more fumbling through recipe books and struggling to work your way through it, just stick in the chip, chuck in the ingredients and hit start.  For the people who use the Thermomix for everyday cooking I can see this being really useful, it will help those new to the Thermomix experience no end and you should get very consistent results.  There is a couple of potential gotchas though… Firstly I largely use my Thermomix for more experimental cooking, so recipe chips aren’t going to be hugely useful to me (unless I can create my own!).  Secondly the basic recipes from the UK recipe book left a lot to be desired, it kinda reminded me of the school home economics recipe book.  I know that sounds incredibly harsh as the recipes weren’t that bad, some were very good but I generally found that it was easier to just cook the way I normally would and not follow the recipe.  Afterall, the chemistry of cooking doesn’t change just because you go from a stove top to a heated bowl, some adaption is required, you do have a massive spinning blade in there, but by and large you can use what you know and do that with the Thermomix and expect good results.  The cynic in my says that this will be a nice little money earner, I doubt that is the primary purpose of it but the thought had to cross the mind of someone in Vorwerk’s marketing division… how could it not???  The extra, more advanced recipe books like In The Mix 2, I have found to be much more useful and very inspirational so it could be a very good thing. TLDR? The recipe chip has its pros and cons.

Disclaimer: I haven’t laid my hands on it and I haven’t seen it demonstrated, so this is just my initial impression of the press release, website and newsletter I have seen – not a full review.  They cover the new features, which is really the key information.

Now, the website doesn’t go into huge detail but the things that really interest me are the bigger bowl and bigger Varoma.  Bigger is better in my opinion, particularly for the Varoma as I found it was quite easy to fill.  There has been more than one occasion where I have resorted to a Jerry-rigged stack of Chinese steamer baskets on top of the Thermomix in order to steam large batches.  The other potential big plus point is a touch screen control, well it’s not so much the touch screen but the temperature controls.  One of my biggest bug bears with the TM31 is the lack of precise temperature control, you have some preset temps but you can’t adjust by 1 or 2 degrees, it has to be 10 degrees or so.  I don’t see anything explicitly stating 1 degree adjustments are possible but it seems to be implied, I would be hugely disappointed if this isn’t a feature.  The other fairly interesting point is that the blade now spins faster (more RPMs), although I would say the TM31 was not lacking in this area, it was strong enough to break down crab shells so was pretty darn capable!  There has a been some obvious design changes, Vorwerk have added locking bars to make it clear when the lid is locked or open.  I also believe this will make cleaning easier as the catches on the TM31 could be hard to clean and liquid would often collect there.  It should also prevent spills down the back as the bowl seems to be sat further forward and more flush to ensure any spills drip down the front where it is easy to clean.  Finally the newsletter mentions some improvements to the measuring scales on the TM5, they now function while the Thermomix is chopping at low-speed and I believe the scales are now more accurate;  a bonus as I have found the TM31 scales to be a bit iffy.

Update: From speaking to the UK Thermomix team I have discovered that the temperature control will be in increments of 5C.  Starting at 37C, then 40C, 45C, etc.  All the way to 120C.  There is also a 98C preset for simmering.  Not quite what I had hoped for but still a considerable improvement over the TM31.

TM5

I see no mention of price but then the TM31’s price was never widely publicised by Vorwerk, probably to discourage price comparisons between countries.  Anyway this was hardly unexpected.  I am guessing the price of the TM5 will not be significantly more than the TM31, as it is not exactly a cheap thing to own.  I expect the TM31 will become a big second-hand market, it’s not exactly obsolete and the TM21 is still going strong.  I am wondering if there will be a discount / upgrade option given to those who have recently purchased a TM31 in the last 3 months or so… it will be quite gutting to have bought a brand new TM31 only to see an updated model released shortly after, there has been no solid information on a new model until today.  The best I could find was some rumours from back in June that there would be a new model in September but nothing official.

Update: The TM5 will cost £925 in the UK (£770.83 plus VAT) which includes the usual basic cookbook and a recipe chip containing the same recipes.

Overall I am interested in seeing the TM5 in action.  I doubt I could justify buying one at this point with the TM31 only being a few years old and the TM5 is seemingly an evolution rather than revolution of the Thermomix.  If I do find cause for a second machine (and there are times when I think that would be useful) then I wouldn’t hesitate to get a TM5.  The one thing I wish Vorwerk had incorporated into the TM5 was a sous vide like function.  It is possible, particularly if the TM5 has 1C degree adjustment, the blade would act like a water circulator, so with a few attachments it should have been possible (but not as efficient or as effective as a dedicated sous vide machine).  So there you have it, the TM5.  If you don’t have a Thermomix already then I can say with absolute certainty that you should go and get one, they are an invaluable tool in the kitchen, whether you are a casual “cook” just looking for a quick meal after work or a trained chef working in a restaurant, everyone can find a use for a Thermomix in their kitchen.



3 Comments - Leave a comment
  1. Erica says:

    I also wonder if it is possible to take the lid off when the tm51 is switched off? Do you have to turn the machine on to get the lid off? Sometimes after cleaning the machine I don’t take the bowl out straight away. Meanwhile the machine switches itself off and being manual, and not an electrical function like with the Tm51, taking the lid off the TM31 is no problem. I like the ease of use with Tm31. It’s so straightforward and easy to work with manually. Also being a creative cook, I like to read the whole recipe at a time so I know what I can meddle with. I find going through each step rather restrictive.

     
  2. chef_cerro says:

    Hi Erica,

    I feel much the same. The design changes they have made seem to be for the better. I reckon the changes to the lid and lock will stop things being spilled down the back whenever the lid is lifted after use (which I always found annoying). But really most of these things are for convenience, there doesn’t seem to be any major feature which makes me think I have to go out and replace the TM31. I would certainly swap new for old and if for any reason my TM31 died I would go and get the TM5 but I don’t feel the need to replace a perfectly good TM31.

    I was really hoping for a sous vide like function in the new Thermomix with precise temperature control and a few new functions rather than a recipe chip. I rarely follow recipes as I am always adapting things so the recipe chip seems like a little bit of a gimmick to me – it depends what you use the Thermomix for, I suppose! I am certainly not disappointed by the new TM5, I think it will still be a great thing to have around the kitchen.

     
  3. Erica says:

    I saw a demo last night. I have had my Thermomix TM31 for two years, and I decided I would not upgrade and that I am happy with the old version. However I would happily swap old for new! The new one certainly looks snazzy, and hence more worth the $2000 based on superficial appearance. I reckon it was at least 10 percent quieter and not unpleasant to listen to. I wasn’t sold on the recipe chip idea though. It reminded me of the thermomix ap which I used once and then never again. I found the ap tedious going through each stage of a recipe step by step and then having to press buttons to get to the next step. The display with recipes is similar to the ap. the good thing is that you don’t have to set time temp and speed manually at each stage. It does it automatically. If I had it I would just use it without the chip with time temp and speed settings done with LCD pressing and turning of the dial. This new one makes me feel a bit old fashioned and set in my ways and resistant to change. I think it’s like the smart phone. It’s a pain to retrain but then you fly when you have learnt the new way. For now I feel very comfortable with my recipe books and robo gourmet and other recipes on the ipad. I reckon I’ll be happy using the tm31 for decades.

     

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