Why Buy a Juicer?
Lots of people have a hard time devouring a plate of fruits and vegetables, or even half a plate, which is the current recommendation from the USDA for each meal. A juicer machine can help you add a few fruits and vegetables to your daily diet in a way that goes down quicker and easier than a plate of raw produce.
Research indicates that juice is not as healthy as eating raw produce with its accompanying fiber, but drinking fresh juice is better than leaving fruits and vegetables out of your diet completely. It can also be healthier than store-bought juices, which often have added sugar and preservatives. Juicing can help you get at least a little fresh produce into your diet. Fresh juice also tastes great. The juicing community has been perfecting recipes for years.
The three main types of juicing machines – centrifugal, masticating and triturating – all have their strengths and weaknesses. The most basic difference is that centrifugal juicers grind, masticating juicers chew and triturating juicers press produce. There is so much competition for your juicing dollar that it can be difficult to determine the best juicer out there. The answer may be slightly different for each user based on personal preference and budget, but we were especially impressed with the Cuisinart Juice Extractor, Breville Juice Fountain Plus and VonShef 700W. These units are a convenient and economical way to help you start a healthy habit.
Types of Juicers
While our reviews focus on affordable centrifugal juicers and blender-style juicers, other types of machines may suit you best. To help you decide, here are the main differences of each juicer:
Magic Bullets and Nutri Ninjas – Do Blender-Style Juicers Juice?
Blender-style juicers are very different from the rest of the juicers in this review, as this form of juicing leaves in way more fiber and pulp. Blender-style juicers are powerful and can handle soft produce, hard produce and even nuts and leafy greens, but since they have such limited space, they can’t juice as much produce at once. In our testing, we had to blend the ingredients in sections to accommodate the entire recipe. If you wish to remove the pulp, you can strain the juice after blending, but this typically gives you a much lower juice yield than an actual juicer. Some of the recipes were so thick that we could barely strain any juice from the pulp.
If you wish to keep that healthy fiber in your drink, then this might be the option for you. In the end, blender-style juicers do not effectively juice compared to the other machines in this review, but they offer one way to get more fresh produce into your diet.
As the name suggests, these juicers work by quickly spinning a blade against a filter in order to separate juice from produce. The juice empties into one container while the remaining pulp is dumped into another one. The biggest criticism of this method is that the heat made from spinning metal oxidizes nutrients and makes the juice less nutritious than masticating juicers.
These juicers also tend to be louder than masticating juicers and cannot handle as much food at once. Nuts typically cannot and should not be placed inside a centrifugal juicer while leafy greens do not juice efficiently. Centrifugal juicers tend to be less expensive than masticating, cold press juicers. However, if you are not a fan of pulp, centrifugal juicers can be a good choice as they tend to extract more pulp than masticating juicers.
Masticating Juicers (Cold Press Juicers)
Masticating juicers – also called cold press juicers – chew raw produce to separate juice from flesh. Since little to no heat is used to make this separation, the juice doesn't oxidize and therefore has more nutritional value than is left over in centrifugal juicers. The complex technology found in this type of juicer does make it a more expensive product, however it handles leafy greens and nuts better and is much quieter than a centrifugal juicer. One thing to note – this juicer will give you more pulp than centrifugal juicers.
For many, the triturating juicer is considered the best option on the market. These juicers use interlocking twin gears to press and crush produce into juice. This movement helps prevent air from oxidizing the juice, which maintains more nutrients than the average juicer. Unlike basic juicers, these can handle most forms of produce, leafy greens and nuts. Since the technology is rather advanced, this is one of the most expensive juicer types on the market.
Hydraulic Press Juicers
Although not as popular as other juicers, hydraulic press juicers extract more nutrients from produce than any other juicer on the market. It works in two stages. The first stage employs trituration – using twin gears to press and crush flesh. The pulp is then placed on a linen and prepared for the second phase. In stage two, the pulp is pressed between two steel plates. The extreme pressure allows the juice to escape and leaves the pulp behind. The juice is never subjected to heat at any time during this juicing process, which means that most of the nutrients are retained. These juicers are much more expensive than the others on our list, but they provide the healthiest juice.
Hand cranking is a juicing alternative if you don't want to purchase an electric juicer. Although it takes a lot more energy to operate a hand-operated juicer, they also tend to be less expensive and easier to clean. Manual Juicers can only handle a very limited range of produce compared to other juicers, which is why most of them specialize in wheatgrass or citrus juicing. A side note on wheatgrass juicing: Many people believe that wheatgrass has incredible health benefits and curative properties. While it's true that wheatgrass is packed with vitamins and nutrients, the "curative properties" have not been proven scientifically. It's good to note that while wheatgrass is packed with nutrients, it is not especially tasty and even small amounts can make you feel sick, especially when introducing it to your body for the first time.
Juicers: What We Tested, What We Found
In our testing, it immediately became apparent that juicing brings a potent earthy smell into your home. When juicing romaine, our kitchen smelled like a freshly mowed lawn. When we juiced beets, our kitchen smelled like wet dirt. These smells can hang around for hours, which is good to keep in mind if strong smells bother you. If you’re a heavy juicer, you might want to consider getting an air purifier.
We evaluated a mix of popular centrifugal and blender-style juicers for our comparison, even though the two types differ from each other in some ways. Both have a central, rotating blade system that grinds produce, but blender-style juicers leave the pulp in and centrifugal units separate most of it out of the juice. Centrifugal and blender-style units can add heat and oxygen to produce, both of which can subtract nutritional benefits, according to some research. However, if you go from very few fruits and vegetables a day to taking in more of both, even processed produce will be a huge improvement to your diet. Here are some of the characteristics we looked for specifically in our juicer reviews:
The best juicers make good use of the produce you put into them. We looked for juicer machines with powerful motors that yielded the most juice possible. Using a food scale to verify, we put the same amount of fruits and vegetables into each vegetable and fruit juicer we tested. We looked for high juice yields, whether testing soft citrus fruits like oranges or tougher produce like beets and carrots. We tested the same three simple recipes on every machine, one with mostly hard produce, one with mostly soft produce and one with leafy greens. Recipe ingredients included carrots, beets, apples, romaine, mint, spinach, lemons, oranges, grapefruit and cucumbers so we could see how each machine handled different types of fruits and vegetables.
Since one of the top reasons for juicing is to make fruit and vegetables more palatable, the goal in general is to get the smoothest juice with the least amount of pulp. We put the juice we made with each machine through the same strainer to see how much pulp was left. The less pulp left in that strainer, the better. If you value a little bit of nutritious pulp, you can always opt not to strain it out, but a juicer should leave you with juice, not froth or pulp.
Nut Juicing: The Almond Milk Test
Since most centrifugal juicers have trouble juicing nuts, we decided to see whether or not the juicer machines we tested could handle making almond milk. Our recipe consisted of water-soaked almonds and three cups of water. While most of the machines could not handle the almond milk process, there were a few that did. The Cuisinart Juice Extractor, Nutri Ninja and NutriBullet were especially good at making almond milk. We recommend checking your juicer's manual before attempting to juice nuts of any kind since this can cause damage to your machine.
Prep & Cleanup
A juicer can end up in the appliance graveyard at the back of your deepest cabinet or as a countertop dust collector if you do not find it easy to use. The best juicers require very little preparation and are simple to assemble and clean. We considered factors like how many parts you have to wash with each use and how many cuts we had to make to prepare the produce in all three recipes so they could fit in each juicer. The less you have to cut each ingredient before juicing, the better. Dishwasher-safe parts also make a juicer more likely to be used instead of stored.
With all the cutting, pressing and grinding, these machines have the potential to wake the neighborhood, or at least the household. We used a decibel meter to measure how much noise each unit generates. This can be a deciding factor if you want to make juice in the early morning.
If you are absolutely sold on a specific juicer, you will find a way to make it fit into your kitchen somehow, but we like the units that make a small footprint on your countertop. Longer cords and a nonslip base also add to the convenience of a machine. With all of the liquid involved in juicing, it is safer and easier if the machine stays in one place.
Help & Support
A long and strong warranty helps build trust in a product. The best juicer machine warranties cover three years or more. We like the manufacturers that stand by their juicers with good warranties and lots of easy ways to access customer service representatives if you have a question.
A fresh juicing routine can add vital nutrients and wonderful flavor to your life. A glass of fresh fruit and vegetable juice can be much more appetizing than a bowl of raw produce, and the right juicer can help you start a healthy habit that will last a lifetime.
Contributing Reviewers: Rebecca Spear, Linda Thomson, Noel Case