I’m swimming in a sea of juicing and blending right now, and I couldn’t be happier. My newest book, Crazy Sexy Juice, was just released on October 20th, and for weeks I’ve been chatting with all kinds of curious folks about the whats, hows and whys of sipping your produce. It’s been so fun spreading the good word on the impact that a regular intake of nourishing juices, satisfying smoothies and decadent nut milks can have on our health and lives.
Now, I could talk about this stuff all day, but as I realized I was getting a lot of the same (great) questions over and over, I figured it would be helpful to bang out some info-packed blogs on the healthy beverage hot topics. I covered the difference between juicing and blending a few weeks ago, and ran through how to choose a blender last week. Today it’s time to help you make an informed decision on a very exciting piece of the super-drink puzzle: picking a juicer.
A Great Juicer is a Great Investment
There are plenty of green machines on the market to satisfy any budget, although the cheapest ones may not always make you happiest. Think of your juicer purchase as an investment in your long-term wellness, energy and radiance. We want to squeeze every possible ounce of goodness into our glasses. Unfortunately, crappy juicers can produce crappy yield. If you’re going to spend money on high-quality, organic fruits and vegetables, and time preparing them for juicing, you might as well be sure that the machine you use helps maximize their nutrients and power.
In general, there are two main categories of juicers for non-commercial use. I’ll explain them more thoroughly in a moment, but the basic difference is that one works quickly and is easy to clean but isn’t necessarily top-of-the-line when it comes to the longevity of your juices. The other creates juices that may contain more nutrients and enzymes and can keep for a few days, but takes more time and can be harder to clean than its quicker counterparts.
Frankly, the choice you make depends on your goals and your lifestyle. If you’re a hardcore raw foodie who wants to invest in a killer machine and you have some extra time on your hands, you might go full tilt with a masticating or twin gear juicer. On the other hand, if you’re a working mamacita who knows that she’s going to make her green juice only if it’s relatively quick and easy to clean up, then you might opt for a centrifugal model. Will there be some compromise in nutritional value if you go the easier way? Sure. But it all comes down to whether or not you’ll actually commit to juicing. So for best results, choose the juicer you’ll actually use!
Since everyone has different needs and budgets, I want to show you how I evaluate the many juicers on the market today so that you can choose a juicer that fits your life. That said, make sure to read reviews and do your own research.
My centrifugal juicer is my go-to companion. I love it mostly because it’s fast and easy (like some of my old boyfriends). Centrifugal juicers have a wide mouth to feed your fruits and veggies into, which means you don’t have to cut produce into itty-bitty pieces beforehand. Big timesaver.
So, how do these babies work? Your veggies and fruits are pushed through a chute into a fast-spinning mesh basket with a grated bottom. The produce is shredded and spun, sending the juice through the mesh and into a pitcher while the pulp goes into a separate basket. Voila!
On the downside, they’re pretty loud, and the high-speed spinning causes the juice to oxidize faster than it would with slower speed juicers. For this reason, it’s best to drink juices from a centrifugal juicer right away to ensure the most nutrients and best flavor and color. However, if saving some juice for later means that you drink more juice, then by all means store your juice in an airtight mason jar and keep it in the fridge till you’re ready to enjoy it—I won’t tell the health police. But know that centrifugal juices probably won’t last overnight—at least not with their fresh flavor intact. They also aren’t very good with certain leafy greens, sprouts or herbs. But as you’ll soon learn, there are some helpful tips for maximizing the yield on these delicate ingredients.
Popular choices for centrifugal juicers: Breville Juice Fountain Compact (a smaller juicer, great for apartment living) and the Omega. While I haven’t tried all the choices on the market today, many of my readers also love the Cuisinart Juice Extractor, the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Pro and the newer versions of the popular and affordable Jack LaLanne machines. Once again, do your research before you invest and make sure there’s a good return policy if you’re unsatisfied.
Masticating Juicers (AKA Slow Juicers)
These lovelies operate a bit like our pearly whites—they use a single gear (or auger) that chews up your produce in order to break down the fibrous cell walls and extract the juice, which is gently squeezed through a stainless steel screen. Masticating juicers tend to have a higher yield than centrifugal juicers, and therefore dryer pulp. Because they run at slower speeds, you’ll get less oxidation and more nutrients. Plus the juice lasts longer. Store it in a tightly sealed mason jar and refrigerate, and it should keep for up to 48 hours. Score! And if noise is a concern, masticating juicers are the way to go. They purr like kittens.
Popular choices for masticating juicers: Hurom Slow Juicer (my personal favorite, which includes a 10-year warranty), Omega 8006 Nutrition System Juicer, Omega VRT350, Breville Fountain Crush Slow Juicer, Champion Household Juicer.
Twin Gear Juicers (AKA Triturating juicers)
Twin gear juicers operate at even slower speeds than masticating juicers, which means these rock star machines extract the highest yield and retain the most nutrients in your liquid sunshine. They grind and press the produce between two interlocking roller gears and slowly squeeze out the goodness. Because there’s less oxidation, you’ll get up to 72 hours of nutrient-rich juice—provided you store your juice in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge. The other advantage of twin gear juicers (and masticating juicers) is that they make the most of leafy greens and even wheatgrass, which, as I mentioned earlier, don’t yield as much juice when processed with centrifugal machines. You can even make nut butters in these bad boys.
Both masticating and twin gear juicers are powerful, health-producing machines but they have a few downsides: the whole process of making a juice tends to take a bit longer than centrifugal. The prep involves cutting the produce into smaller sizes because their mouths are typically narrow. Feeding the juicer takes time because the gears turn slowly. And finally, the cleanup can include a few extra steps because there are often more parts to rinse and scrub. In addition, sometimes pulp can slip through. No biggie. You can either strain it or just enjoy the extra fiber.
These juicers are also more expensive. All that said, they’re still the go-to choice for health gurus and advocates.
Consider all of these factors when you’re thinking about the juicer you want; there’s no point having a fancy machine if the time you need to spend cleaning it outweighs your juice craving in the first place!
Norwalk Hydraulic Press
Last but not least: the slowest, most effective badass on the scene. If you’ve won the lottery, robbed a bank or inherited the family jewels from your Aunt Trudy, check out the Norwalk juicer—which costs around $2500. This machine literally presses (as in uses a hydraulic press) the juice out of fruits and veggies, including tough-to-juice grasses like wheatgrass. This powerful juicer provides 50 to 100 percent more juice than other machines, and the juice itself will stay very fresh for up to three days.
Because Norwalk machines are so expensive, they’re used mostly at healing centers or for commercial purposes—including the cold-pressed juices you may have come across in juice bars. You can’t walk into the local Target and buy one. Generally you have to procure them online or from a juice bar that sells them. But, hey, a gal can dream!
Things to Consider Before You Buy
Before you select a juicer, ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s my budget?
- How much prep time am I willing to invest in my daily juicing?
- How much cleanup will I be willing to do on a daily basis?
- What’s more important: the shelf life of my juice or the time/effort it takes to prepare it?
- How much space do I have?
- Will I be juicing wheatgrass?