Vitamix A3500 Blender : Pricey But Performs Well
The line of blenders manufactured by Vitamix Corporation is popular among residential and commercial users for good reasons. These blenders are among the pricier small kitchen appliances but their superior performance means great value for the money. This is true for the Vitamix A3500, a blender belonging to the Ascent series.
Take note that the Ascent series is the latest range in the Vitamix lineup – the other lines are the Legacy and Personal Series – and the blenders are characterized by smart innovations and stylish designs. The A3500 is then considered as among the top-of-the-line Ascent blenders, thus, the higher price.
But we also want to point out that it has its minor flaws that users are well-advised to consider. Overall, nonetheless, this is a pricey blender that performs well in home use applications. Many users even say that they have used for some light commercial applications, such as in a small bar.
Base Unit and Motor Power
The Vitamix A3500 blender has a 2.2-peak horsepower motor powering the stainless steel blades. For comparison purposes, the KitchenAid Pro Line Series blenders have a 3.5HP motor while the Blendtec Wildside blenders are powered by a 3.8HP motor. As such, the A3500 isn’t as powerful as these high-end competing blenders.
But don’t be fooled by the fewer horsepower on the A3500 since its motor is sufficient on its own. If you were to use it successively for different drinks, such as smoothies followed by juices and coffee grinding, its motor will hold up well. There’s little sign of overheating, too, although it makes sense to give the motor about 30 seconds of rest between batches.
The base unit is squat and square, as is the case for most Vitamix blenders, so it isn’t exactly a sleek kitchen appliance. But its design has a practical function – it doesn’t easily tip over even when it’s nearly full.
The clear BPA-free plastic jar can withstand impact from soft and hard ingredients including ice cubes and frozen fruits. It’s a clear plastic so it’s easy to see whether the smoothies or nut butter has the desired consistency. It also has distinct lines for measuring the solid and liquid ingredients placed into it; the lines signify milliliters, ounces and cups.
The Vitamix A3500 jar isn’t your run-of-the-mill jar, however. It’s actually synced to the blender base through near field communication (NFC) technology. Basically, it lets the blender base determine whether the appropriate jar has been placed on it – if it isn’t, then the blender will not turn on.
Again, the laser-cut stainless steel blades are sharp enough to cut through a variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, ice cubes and frozen fruits and other ingredients. These are also designed to create a powerful vortex that brings the ingredients down into their center for further processing.
Control Panel and Speed
Many users say that the first thing that caught their attention was the striking LED display. The black control panel provides contrast to the white lights that show the operational status of the blender. The information displayed on the LED display are elapsed time, blade speed and the selected automatic program.
There’s a variable speed selector dial in the center of the control panel but that’s the only analog feature. The selector dial can be spun to the left and right to increase or decrease the blades’ speed. There is similar option comes along with other Vitamix blender like Vitmaix 7500, Vitmaix a2300 and Vitmaix 5300
The digital controls are flush against the control panel. These are touch-sensitive keys with distinctive icons for the five pre-programmed settings including pulse, start and stop, and frozen desserts, hot soups and smoothies.
The timer display is also touchscreen-type and it’s useful when counting up the minutes and seconds when the blades have been turning. The number of minutes and seconds vary based on the chosen programming mode. The soup mode, for example, runs for nearly 5 minutes.
The Vitamix A3500 has a standard height of 17 inches – standard because most Vitamix blenders are between 17 and 18 inches tall. At this height, it can be stored in standard-sized kitchen cabinet when not in use. We suggest storing the blender in the same way that you would use it – with the jar on top of the base – but with the cord unplugged.
The base itself measures 11 by 8 inches. The blender weighs about 15 pounds, a fairly heavy product. Then again, you don’t want a lightweight blender that will easily topple over when a large batch of smoothie is being processed in it.
Functionality & Versatility
The Vitamix A3500 is best used for making thick, creamy smoothies because of the combination of its pulse function and variable speed control. The smoothies have a consistent quality, a must for smoothie enthusiasts, and it takes under 10 pulses to blend orange juice, frozen strawberries and a dash of milk. You can use the pre-set smoothie program or you can a combination of the pulse and variable speed functions depending on the type of ingredients used.
Keep in mind that juices are different from smoothies and, in many cases, their creation require separate kitchen appliances – a juicer and a blender, respectively. While juices technically only have the liquid component and none of the solid part (pulp) of the fruits and vegetable, smoothies have both components. With that said, the Vitamix A3500 blender can be used as a juicer, sort of, if you like whole juices.
The sharp blades and powerful motor transformed a couple of cups of ice cubes into shaved ice in just 10 or less high-speed pulses. You can then make frozen desserts like sorbets and ice cream as well as margaritas with this blender. You can add more ice cubes into the mix in case a thicker mixture is desired.
Baby food is just among the pureed food that you can make with this blender. The solid ingredients become so smooth that there’s no danger of babies swallowing large pieces that can cause choking. Aside from baby food, the blender is useful in making sauces like applesauce and tomato sauce as well as dips for chips and pita bread.
Soup/ hot ingredients:
Most Vitamix blenders produce enough heat from the whirling action of their blades to create fairly hot soup. The jar can handle hot ingredients, such as pre-cooked butternut squash and hot water as well as herbs and spices, without cracking.
Making salsas, coleslaw and salads with this blender should be a breeze since there’s less manual chopping involved. We even tested it on shredding cheese and the cheese will be turned into edible shreds in about 8-10 pulses.
While the Vitamix A3500 can make nut butters, it can only do so for a longer time, about 45 minutes. You may also have to take frequent breaks to allow the motor to rest and to scrape off the sticky butter sticking to the sides of the jar.
Making dough and batter is easier since the blades and motor don’t have to work so hard in mixing the ingredients. About 30 minutes of blending starting from slow speed to high speed should result in a smooth liquid mix.
The noise level is quite high but it’s expected of a blender with a powerful motor. There’s just no way about it.
Ease of Using, Cleaning
We love it that it’s easy to customize the blending process using the pulse function and the variable speed controls. The selector dial is easy to use, and it clicks well with every turn. The jar is easy to fill, especially with its wide base and mouth, as well as easy to pour with its mess-free pouring spout.
The Vitamix A3500 is a breeze to clean, too. It has an automated cleaning mode where tap water mixed with a few drops of dishwashing detergent in the jar will do the trick. As with all Vitamix blenders with a self-cleaning mode, turning on the blender and letting the water-detergent mix clean the jar’s insides usually does the trick.
Warranty and Customer Support
The blender comes with a 10-year full warranty. We commend the Vitamix customer support service, too, because of its prompt replies and timely deliveries.
The Vitamix A3500 is a higher-end blender that some people may be unable to afford at this time. But like many pricey things, it can be considered as an investment in a durable, reliable and versatile kitchen appliance that can last for years of regular use. Its cost can be spread over, say, 10 years so you’re essentially spending just $50 per year on it, excluding the cost of electricity.
But of course, it has its flaws, too, such as its less than stellar performance in making juices and nut butters. But if you can overlook these minor things, then we recommend it.