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I've never been dissatisfied by Braun products and when my previous food processor was getting a bit shoddy, I went looking for something bigger and better to take its place. So I typed www.braun.com into my browser and and there it was - the Braun Multisystem K3000 (international URL below in Technical Stuff) and Oh My Heavens, I knew I had to get one. It was love at first sight, I tell you. At the time, they this was selling for 2,200 New Israeli Shekels (NIS) - which was almost £270 - quite a bit to pay for a food processor. Normally I wouldn't put that kind of money out for an item like this, but I had some gift vouchers for a shop that carries these products, and they let me put the rest on several payments, so... Bought it, I did - regret it, not for a moment, and here's why.
What originally attracted me to this machine - aside from its sexy looks - is the fact that Braun makes it. Having had 22 years of excellent use out of my old one, I figured I couldn't go too wrong with buying another of their food processors. After that, the fact that it was also a blender as well as a standing mixer was also attractive. This, because my old hand mixer is a pain in the arm to use - literally, and that my blender had just given up the ghost. So, here I was buying one appliance that would replace three. Figure that into the price and you may stop thinking that its way too dear. (If you want to compare, a KitchenAid mixer only, without any of the extra attachments for blending and food processing, will cost you £239 plus £7.50 shipping via www.ogormans.co.uk for instance.)
The next thing that attracted me was the size of the food processor's bowl. It's a huge 2 liter capacity bowl, which can actually take a bit more than that. So when I'm making my famous veggie pies for 6 hungry persons, its not going to go slopping over the top of the bowl. That also means when I'm grating or slicing foods for a big salad, I don't have to limit myself to only a few carrots or cucumbers and then remove them to make more. However, because the bowl is so big, I've been grating far too much cheese than I usually do for many of my dishes, because it looks like so little in the bowl. Still, that's not a problem since I can always freeze the extra grated cheese - which I do often when grating up mozzarella and Parmesan for my lasagne (my husband always buys too much for one lasagne).
The mixer's bowl is also not small, and can make up to 4 kilo of bread dough (which they base on 2 kilos of flour plus other ingredients). But its not too big, either and can beat up as few as two egg whites into just the right stiffness for meringues or folding into a delicate cake batter. Of course, the six egg whites that I used in my chocolate mousse cake came out totally perfect, as well. Mind you, I wasn't very pleased with how it creamed butter for my refrigerator cheesecake. I used 200 grams of butter and 3/4 of a cup of sugar (as the recipe calls for) and much of it got stuck around the edges when I added the eggs and sour cream. I guess for that cake I'll have to go back to melting the butter. Still, it made my crumble pastry for my cut cookies with no problems whatsoever.
The blender has a good 1 liter capacity, and the jar is a good strong, and very thick glass which doesn't look like it will break easily. However, since my accident with my hand, I'm trying my best to stay away from using glass, so only my husband has used this. He makes his 'smoothies' with this attachment and finally he's not slopping half of it onto the counter top. I think that the fact that the jar seems wider, but shorter than most blenders on the market, has something to do with this.
As you can see, these three attachments are far from miniature sized, and I'd even go so far as to say that its almost professional sized. This said, except for my creaming butter disaster, you can also make small family or even single portion items in this machine without losing out on the quality of the finished product. Plus, because the motor area is streamlined in size, I was able to easily slip this right into the same place on my kitchen counter top that my old one had occupied. Furthermore, without that blender also taking up its old slot, I now have more work space than I did before I bought this. Not bad at all.
But what about attachments, you ask. Firstly, the blender is just a blender and has no attachments. Mind you, it does come apart for easy cleaning, which is something that used to bug me with my old blender that was one solid piece with the blade un-detachable from the jar. Cleaning that was pure hell, even with a bottle washing brush. The mixer part has three attachments. One is a dough hook for making dough (well, dur!), one is a whip for mixing batters like for cakes, and the last is a whisk for beating egg whites and cream. This bowl is made of stainless steel, and has a nicely rounded edge near the base to make cleaning easier. However, you should know that unlike a KitchenAid mixer, where the attachments come from the motor which is above the bowl, here the bowl and its mixing attachments come through a center drive shaft at the bottom of the bowl. I think that the 'hole' in the middle of this bowl could be the reason why the butter and sugar didn't cream well, since the ingredients seemed to get stuck on the center shaft.
The food processor has the usual universal chopping blade and - get this - FIVE, yes, count them 5 discs for slicing, shredding and grating. One of the things I liked about my old Braun was that these discs were solid metal, and this new one is the same. What's so great about that? Well, my father-in-law has a food processor with which you have to slide the shredding and slicing parts into a plastic holder, and whenever I've tried to use it, I always nick my fingers. Plus, the plastic tends to crack and break with time, making the shredding and grating parts tend to sit badly, or even fall off. That's why the solid discs appeal to me - you just fit them onto the center shaft and off you go. What's more, two of the discs are reversible, making the processing of the food even more versatile. What I mean is, the slicer disc has a thin side and a thick side, as does the shredder disc - put the thick side up for thick slices or shredding, or the thin side up for thin slices or shredding. What could be simpler?
The other discs included with this machine are a french fries disc (sorry, I don't deep fry so I haven't used this one, despite a friend telling me this is good for making a chopped salad), a Julienne disc (looking like a fine french fry disc, but with results that seem a tad too much like using the fine shredder disc), and a grater disc which will pulverize your blanched tomatoes or fresh onions like nothing I've ever seen, this side of using my hand grater. The only thing I'm not too crazy about is that to use these discs, you have to put them onto an extension piece onto the middle drive shaft. I am very worried that this extension piece might get lost since its fairly small. However, if you're worried about that, you can be fanatical (as I have been so far) about putting it in its place. Yes, this machine comes with someplace to store all your discs, with a spot just for that extension piece. I found this very satisfactory because I was always throwing the discs from my old machine on one shelf or another and then nicking my hands when trying to grab something else. What's more, the stand has draining holes at the bottom so you can put them directly from the sink into the stand to dry. Having a stand for these is a real added plus for this klutz (and lately I've had quite enough accidents with my hands to last my whole lifetime, thank you very much).
Speaking of accidents, we all know that these types of machines are built with a plethora of accidents just waiting to happen. That is, all except for the Braun products. For instance, the blender blade - sharp as sharp can be. Well, with this machine you can put the whole blender jar into the dishwasher for cleaning to save yourself reaching inside and risking a jab. Or, as I mentioned above, you can take it apart to clean it. Moreover, no worrying about turning it on without the cover and splattering everywhere - you can't turn the blender on unless the cover is properly in place.
As for the mixer part, how many times have you feared a finger would get caught in the whisking blades? Well with this machine, it can't happen because the mixing bowl has a clear plastic cover to it, and again - unless that cover is attached, the machine won't go on. There's a spout to that cover, by the way, but its built at such an angle and just narrow enough that it is physically impossible for you to get fingers into the bowl with it on.
I already mentioned the disc stand which keeps them stored safely when the food processor is not in use. And again, you cannot turn on the machine if the top of the food processor isn't properly clicked into place. But that's not the last safety feature of this machine. No, the last (and if you ask me best) safety feature is the one for the universal blade. This is something that only Braun have thought of, I'm sure, and bless their hearts, they supply you with a COVER that goes over the blade and holds it up inside a plastic guard so that when its being stored, you or some little child cannot accidentally grab the attachment off the shelf by the (extremely sharp) blade and cut yourself. After my recent accident, I couldn't appreciate that more and I immediately put the blade into the cover the moment I've finished cleaning it. Of course you could accidentally hurt yourself when cleaning this blade by hand, but if that worries you, you can always pop it into the dishwasher instead.
I shouldn't forget the cleaning up bit. The base and body of this machine are easily cleaned with a damp cloth, and with the exception of the machine itself, and the part that the dough hook, whip and whisk attach to, everything else is dishwasher safe. Mind you, all of the parts clean very easily by hand as well, with almost no little nooks and crannies where food can get trapped. Almost, I say, because the blender does have a bit of that, but like I said, you can take it apart so you can get to all the hidden areas. And since all of the bowls seal tightly when in use, you won't have splatters all over the place, to clean up after you're done, either. My one niggle with the cleaning bit is that the food processor bowl isn't totally smooth inside. It has some little ridges that go down the sides of the bowl, and I've found that food does get caught there. Mind you, I think those ridges are to promote food from riding up the sides of the bowl, but its not totally conducive for getting every last drop of my quiche fillings out - and I can be a stickler for getting out the last drop. Oh well, nothing is perfect, and a few smidgens of quiche filling down the drain isn't going to bother me.
I'm sure you're wondering about the power and how you use this machine. My old Braun had about 600 watts of power, a low setting, a high setting and a manual pulse. By manual, I mean that you controlled the pulsing yourself by twisting the handle as fast or as slowly as you liked. This machine far outshines my old one in this area. With a whopping 950 watts of power, its right up there with the most powerful food processors and blenders on the market today. While the KitchenAid mixers are stronger (I think 1200 or 1400 watts), we can't forget that they are (as already noted) far more expensive, don't come with food processor or blender attachments as standard, and are quite a bit more greedy on counter space. As for using this machine, I was surprised at how variable this machine was. The K3000 doesn't just have a high and low setting, it has speed settings, too. The lowest setting is 2 and you can slide an arrow like indicator from that all the way up to 14. In case that doesn't mean anything to you, perhaps revolutions per minute (rpm) will help you. Setting 2 is 50rpm with setting 14 at a full 10,000rpm. How's that for adaptable speed control?
With the setting at 14 you'll be using the full 950 watts of power that this machine maximizes at. That high setting can be really effective, I tell you. When I go to slice up my cucumbers, I almost don't need to push them in with the plunger at all - the speed and power of this machine practically pulls the food into its clutches. Carrots and other hard items do need to be pushed a bit, however, but certainly I don't need to smash them with all my strength into the machine like I did with my old one - just a little bit of pressure is all I need. And when the universal blade is in the machine and I'm chopping up nuts or chocolate (or both), at 14 this machine makes very quick work out of up to 400 grams of chocolate or up to one kilo of nuts!
But that's not all. There's also a pulse function which works both as a manual pulse - which is done by pressing a button in the middle of the switch handle - as well as an automatic pulse. The automatic pulse will turn the blades at regulated intervals with the movement regulated by the speed you set it to. So, if you want a gentle pulse, you set it at 2, and if you want longer and stronger movement, with short stops in between you set it up to 14 - with all the speeds in between working relatively. I've found this to be especially useful when trying to just blend things together when I don't want something overly pureed.
With all this power you might think that this machine could get pretty noisy. Happily, this isn't the case. With the exception of when you're chopping up hard things - like nuts or chocolate - this machine just gently hums through its work. For instance, when I was whipping up egg whites for the first time, I almost over beat them because it was so quiet I forgot it was on. And now even when I'm shredding carrots or slicing peppers my kids don't feel the need to turn up the sound on their TV shows. Of course, its not silent, but it is certainly less disturbing to the ear than my old machine.
By now you've probably begun to think that all this is well and good but perhaps this machine might be a bit complicated to use. I have to admit that I was slightly daunted by it myself to begin with. However, the machine comes with a very good instruction manual that clearly sets out all of the things you need to know on operating this little beauty. It even describes the parts by their physical attributes as well as their technical names - like 'the glass liquidizer goblet' or 'food processor bowl (transparent receptacle)'. The instruction manual gives you examples of what you prepare with each part, as well as giving you a brief list of items you might want to process, with the maximum capacity for each one, how the item needs to be prepared before putting it in the machine, the speed to use, what position to set the switch at and the time it will take or the amount of pulses you'll need. Of course, this is done in about seven languages, but the English is still perfect - thank goodness.
Even with this useful manual, some people might still be put off. This is probably why Braun also provides you with a little recipe book with your machine. Well, its not all that little - it's only a bit smaller than A4, but it contains about 140 pages split up into three sections of recipes, each section in two languages each. The English and German section totals about 45 pages, with very precise directions on how to make these items using your Braun K3000. That's a very nice extra, if you ask me, and those recipes I've tried (so far) have turned out as beautifully as they look in the pictures of the book.
Speaking of extras - aside from the recipe book, the universal blade cover and the disc holder, you should know that the plunger for the food processor is clear, hollow and marked to be a measuring cup. Cool, no? I think the only thing that I miss from my old machine is that they didn't give me a spatula with the K3000 like they did with my old one. Still, I couldn't rate this machine down for that - I mean, really, its not as if I can't go out and get a new spatula, now is it? Finally, the lid to the mixer is specially shaped so that you can use it as a type of wrench to detach the blade for cleaning as well as tighten back onto the jar for use. That's another piece of smart design on Braun's part.
All-in-all, while this machine is on the higher end of the food processor market in price, if you take into account the fact that you're actually getting three machines in one, the sticker price won't be so scarey. The K3000 is easy to use, easy to clean, looks very elegant on my counter top without taking up too much space, and comes from a name I have grown to trust implicitly. I have to say that I think I bought a real winner here. So, if you're serious about food preparation, but don't want to exhaust yourself with chopping and slicing and mixing and blending and all that jazz, then this is certainly the machine for you. Highly recommended and a full five stars (despite a few tiny niggles that are so small as to be insignificant to its overall rating)!
Thanks for reading!
PS: Those of you who don't know, I suffered an accident with my hand last May. I just wanted to say that even so injured, I've been able to get back to full speed at cooking because I've been using this machine almost daily to assist me when I couldn't trust my hands to do so. I can't think of a higher recommendation, can you?
UPDATE: Someone mentioned that this machine isn't quite the same as a KitchenAid. So I decided to take a look at other food processors on the market in the UK. I found that the one of the few food processors I could find that has 950 watts is the Magimix 5100 Cuisine Systeme which ranges in price from £161- £229. It doesn't have a separate blender to it, although many will say that a good powerful food processor will do that job nicely. Also, while it has a dough hook attachment, it doesn't really have a mixer, and my experience with food processors is that you can't get a good stiff whipped eggwhite or whipped cream without a whisking attachment.
A beginner in the kitchen, or those on a tight budget might prefer the Philips Essence HR7756 food processor which you can get for a low as £60 via Amazon.co.uk - which is also a three in one machine. Its only 800 watts and I can't exactly see if it has speeds or not. Aside from that - personally I don't like the look of it, but... Your mileage may vary.
If you want to see all of the features and information about this product, log onto their web page for this product at http://tinyurl.com/39ovy).
Good thing this is a British site because this product is not available in North America! Boy, am I ever glad I live on this side of the pond!
Braun products are imported and distributed by the Gillette Group UK Ltd., Braun Consumer Services, Aylesbury Road, P.O. Box: Freepost OF1503, OX9 3AX Thame. Phone Country Code: ++44, Phone: 0208-5601234, Fax: 0208-8477136, Hotline: UK only: 0800-7837010, Hotline: Spares & Repairs: 0870-5143223, Hotline: Ireland: 1-800509448, Service for: All products. The page http://www.braun.com/global/contact/servicepartners/europe.country.html also has a place where you can send them e-mail, as well as a list of Authorized Braun Service-Partners in the UK in a drop-down menu.
In London, for instance, Braun products are sold at Berry Electrical, 509 London Road, SM3 8JR North Cheam, Phone Country Code: ++44, Phone: 0208-3373288, Fax: 0208-7150909, Hotline: UK only: 0800-7837010, Hotline: Spares & Repairs: 0870-5143223, Service for: All products (except Pro3000 & BP2590), and Chiswick Electric, 315 High Road, W4 4HH Chiswick, Phone Country Code: ++44, Phone: 0208-9942004, Fax: 0208-7422056, Hotline: UK only: 0800-7837010, Hotline: Spares & Repairs: 0870-5143223, Service for: All products (except Pro3000 & BP2590)