The secret to a perfect smoothie


What’s the best way to make a smoothie? I find it hard to get the right texture.
Emily, Gateshead

Smoothies are a great way to get more fruit and veg into your diet, but success hinges on getting the consistency right. As Lily Simpson, founder of Detox Kitchen, says: “Too thick and you’ll need to grab a spoon; too thin and you’ll miss the indulgent creaminess.” But while you don’t necessarily need to follow a recipe, Emily, hitting that texture sweet spot is a numbers game.

Cook Anna Jones, whose books include One: Pot, Pan, Planet, penned a guide on smoothies for The Guardian a while back, and it’s worth revisiting. “A good smoothie is all about getting the ratio right,” writes Jones, who divides hers into five parts. That’s to say she takes a hero fruit/veg (be it greens, banana, mango, whatever), which constitutes two-fifths of her smoothie, then adds “an accent” fruit or veg, making up one-fifth. Using frozen fruit here is a good shout. Simpson says: “It means you don’t have to use ice, which waters down the flavour – bananas are a good option as they add a thick, creamy texture.” A freezer stocked with fruit also means smoothies are always a possibility, and it will help cut down on food waste, too. “Pineapples and mangoes are such big fruits that it’s hard to get through them in time when fresh,” says Simpson, who freezes them in “small, bite-sized pieces to help the blender along”.

Smoothies then need liquid – coconut water, apple juice or water for Simpson (“for 250ml, half should be liquid, the rest soft fruit”), while Jones might add ice, cow’s milk, a nut milk or kefir into the mix, making up the remaining two-fifths of her drink. “Finally, I like to add an extra kick of flavour, a mellowing creaminess, or some balancing sweetness or acidity,” says Jones, which could be grated turmeric/ginger or dried spices, nut butter, dates or honey, and lemon or lime zest or juice respectively. Similarly, Simpson accessorises her drinks with “a good pop”, adding “lime juice to a berry smoothie, vanilla powder to a banana and cacao smoothie, cinnamon to a coconut and pineapple smoothie, and lemon juice to avocado with greens”.

Blitzing the lot in a high-powered blender is your best shot at a silky result, but if your tools aren’t quite up to the job, David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl have some pointers in Green Kitchen Smoothies, from grating harder roots (e.g. carrots, beetroot, ginger) and allowing frozen fruit or veg to thaw slightly before blending, to whizzing any leafy greens with your chosen liquid until smooth before adding everything else.

Lastly, Emily, remember that smoothies are riffable. If, say, you fancy something more substantial, add oats, or take a run at Frenkiel and Vindahl’s upside-down breakfast, where a banana, berry, and spinach smoothie is layered with muesli and yoghurt. For four, add a chopped banana to a blender with a handful of baby spinach, 75g frozen strawberries, 75g frozen blueberries, half a teaspoon of ground cardamom, and 250ml oat or almond milk, and blend on high until smooth. Divide 150g muesli followed by 250g yoghurt between glass jars, then pour over the smoothie. Top with chopped fruit, grab a spoon and go.

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