Kevin Hunt: Review: Can Yonanas Make Frozen Fruit Taste Like Soft-Serve?

The Yonanas Frozen Treat Maker earns hosannas from youthful dessert eaters, yet the alpha male isn't convinced this machine can turn slightly thawed fruit into a healthful treat that looks and tastes like soft-serve ice cream.

So, kids, it's your Yonanas machine against the alpha male's Ninja Master Prep Professional blender. Scared already? It's the $49.99 Yonanas, a too-sweet, make-me-gag reference to your machine's almost-mandatory ingredient (bananas), against the mighty Ninja, a $69.99 overachiever that tied the $450 Vitamix 5200 as best blender in Consumer Reports' ratings.

Yonanas chews up frozen fruit, then spews from a chute the smoothened byproduct like a deep-freeze Play-Doh Fun Factory. (Be thankful, children, that we are not here to make tripe.) The Ninja chops, blends and purees without mercy. It comes with two sets of blades, three containers — 16-ounce and 40-ounce bowls and a 48-ounce pitcher — and a 450-watt power pod.

This powerhouse devours anything you throw into it. It's not a one-trick frozen pony like Yonanas. Did the alpha male say the blender's name is Ninja?

Yonanas is kid-simple and kid-safe, except for the sharp metal blades/stubs mounted on the conical cutter block hidden in the modular cover that screws into the chute apparatus. When that piece locks into the Yonanas base, you're ready to mash a dessert.

Yonanas has one speed, a single on-off switch, and one sound — loud. Channel the Fun Factory and you'll know exactly how this works: Drop slightly thawed pieces of fruit, banana preferably first, into the chute, turn on the machine and ram the fruit down into the torture chamber with the plastic plunger. The creamy concoction oozes from the lower end of the chute, like Play-Doh, except colder and tastier.

Alternate other fruit with pieces of banana or follow one of the many recipes included with the machine or available online. Scrape remnants from chute and blade assembly. Stir, then serve.

Bananas are suggested as a main ingredient because they produce the creamiest, most soft-serve-like textures. Bananas should be ripened, with cheetah marks but not blackened, then peeled, wrapped and placed in a freezer for at least 24 hours.

Bananas also create the dominate flavor. If you're not a fanna banana, try some of the less-creamy sorbet recipes.

Yonanas is pickier with fruit than the pickiest kid. For closest to soft-serve consistency, the frozen fruit should be thawed between seven and 10 minutes before use. Longer thaw times could produce a fruity mush.

The first showdown between the Ninja and Yonanas was voided for that reason. The bananas, blueberries, mangoes and strawberries thawed too quickly in humid conditions, producing a goopy, if colorful, mess. Blueberry particles and banana chunks were identifiable in the debris field, but this was not particularly tasty.

So into the Ninja it went, emerging after a brief pulse-blending session as a smooth, blueberry-blue treat thicker than a smoothie but more liquidy than soft-serve. And delicious.

The Ninja, a star among budget blenders, can do many things but could not master the art of soft-serve.

The experienced Yonanas user quickly recognizes when thawing fruit is ripe for dessert-making. The difference is startling: Yonanas, indeed, produces a creamy texture reminiscent of a slightly thickened soft-serve.

This dessert was packed with phytonutrients, fiber, potassium, manganese and other vitamins and minerals. Other recipes add dried fruit, nuts, cookies (or frozen homemade cookie dough) or brownies. Or make a simple sorbet with a handful of berries or fresh-picked peaches.

Now check the ingredients, calories and fat in your favorite ice cream or the fillers in your go-to frozen dessert.

Yonanas makes good nutrition taste like dessert, even if creamy means banana-y. But can it dice an onion?

Healthy Foods' Yonanas Frozen

Treat Maker

Price: $49.99

The good: When done correctly, creates a creamy, nutritional and tasty treat.

Not so good: Frozen fruit must be thawed properly for optimum results; noisy.

Information: yonanas.com

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