Review

Hands-on review: NutriNinja BL580UKV personal blender with FreshVac

What difference does vacuuming make to your smoothie?

The BL580UKV may call itself a personal blender, but it’s by no means small. It’s more imposing and at 600ml and 1100W has a higher fill capacity and much higher power than our benchmark MagicBullet. It comes with one set of blending blades, two identical cups and lids and a unique extra: a vacuum pump.

The battery-powered pump is used to suck air out of your cup just prior to blending. The idea is simple: removing the oxygen means ingredients oxidise less, which results in drinks that retain more nutrients, colour and flavour. The pump uses six AA batteries, or you can get a mains power supply that’s supplied separately.

After assembling ingredients, there’s a slightly protracted process. You need to attach the blades to the top of the cup then turn it over. The pump sits on top of the other end and you press a button to suck out the air. It’s quick and shuts off automatically when it’s done. Pop the pump off and you’re ready to blend.

We liked the blender’s two AutoIQ automatic programmes. There’s a self-explanatory one called ‘Smoothie’ while ‘Extract’ is designed for tough and fibrous fruit and veg.

One of the challenges with these powerful little blenders is that the motor can overheat, which causes two problems. First, this heat can warm up your drink and damage nutrients. Second, if you leave the motor running too long it can burn out. Bye-bye, blender!

The automatic programmes beat this problem by blending for a finite time, so you won’t get distracted and cook your smoothie. The Smoothie AutoIQ program takes just 50 seconds and uses a series of powerful pulses to break up even hard matter like ice cubes and frozen fruit in that time.

We made two identical fruit smoothies, using bananas, frozen blackberries, ice cubes, protein shake powder and milk. With one, we used the vacuum pump first, to evacuate air, and the other we did straight. Both were blended using the 50 second Smoothie program.

The vacuum-pumped one obviously took a bit more time. Screw on the blades, invert the cup and the pump sits comfortably in place, you don’t need to hold it. We found it only took 20 seconds to suck out the air.

After blending, the most significant visual difference was not the colour but the size of the smoothies. The one blended with air was at least 20 per cent bigger, because it was aerated. This affected the flavour far more than we’d anticipated. There was a pleasant, creamy mouthfeel (think fluffy McDonalds milkshake) but the flavour was quite light. 

Cut to the vacuumed smoothie: the texture was rich and creamy, more like yoghurt. The flavour was much stronger. Colour was not as different as anticipated, though. The air-free smoothie was arguably a little bit more purple but the difference wasn’t stark. If you made a smoothie hours before drinking it, you might see a more significant difference between the two.

The blender comes with two sippy lids for travel. You can also use a sippy lid in combination with the pump to introduce a vacuum for keeping the contents fresh. We found this less successful than the blending because it was let down by the lid design in two ways. First, the lid doesn’t have a flat top, so you can’t invert the cup and sit it nicely on the worktop to use the pump; it sits at a funny angle, which means you have to hold the pump in place. Second, the lid isn’t perfectly airtight: you have to screw it on tightly and double-check everything to get it sealed well enough for the pump to do its job properly.

Still, as food waste becomes a growing concern, vacuum preservation will surely become more popular. It would be good to see accessories that let you use the NutriNinja’s pump with food storage boxes and bags too.

All in all though, it’s a good smoothie blender with an extra trick up its sleeve that makes drinks tastier and maybe more nutritious, too.

£129.99 ninjakitchen.eu

Alternatives

NutriBullet Magic Bullet

Great value for a versatile little blender that makes smoothies and more. It only boasts 200W of power, so don’t expect it to puree leafy greens, but it’s tough enough to blend ice cubes for frozen drinks and it doesn’t take up too much counter space.

£39.99 highstreettv.com/nutribullet

Breville Blend Active ColourMix

This colourful 300W set serves up smoothies, milkshakes, slushies and even lets you add a splash of citrus. Make drinks for the whole family, with four different coloured sports bottles (two 600ml, two 300ml) so everyone knows whose drink is whose.

£39.99 breville.co.uk

NutriBullet Rx

Prescribing yourself a healthy diet for 2019? This 1700W blender features a cooking cycle that serves up healthy soups and hot sauces in just seven minutes. It makes all the usual smoothies too, with a large enough jug for the whole family.

from £129.99 highstreettv.com/nutribullet

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