Beyond waking up your taste buds, juicers can wake up your whole body to a healthier lifestyle. Juicers pack the nutrients of several servings of fruits and vegetables into a single glass, and do it without degrading them the way cooking does. The crushing, chopping, or “chewing” action of juicers breaks down plant fibers, releasing more vital enzymes, minerals and vitamins from your pineapple or spinach than you’d get if you ate them whole. Pronto’s Juicer Buying Guide will help you choose the juicer that’s right for you, whether you’re a raw foods and wheatgrass enthusiast, or you just think a delicious glass of fresh strawberry-cantaloupe juice would be a great addition to your breakfast table (see also Blender Buying Guide).
Centrifugal juicers are fast, affordable, and easy to use and clean. They do the best job juicing fruits, but cause some nutrient loss and oxidation due to spinning at high RPMs. Single and twin-gear juicers turn at low RPMs and do the best job of preserving vital nutrients, but are more expensive and harder to clean. They’re the best juicers for vegetables.
Some juicers feature automatic pulp-ejection, while others retain the pulp inside the machine. Pulp-ejecting juicers are easier to clean, and allow you to juice continuously without stopping to remove pulp. Pulp retaining juicers deliver a higher yield of juice, and are quieter.
Centrifugal juicers are rated in watts, single and twin-gear juicers in horsepower. Choose a model with at least 450 watts of horsepower for good performance. Single and twin-gear juicers will give you the highest yield of juice from your raw produce. Centrifugal juicers that retain pulp will yield up to 30% more juice than pulp-ejecting models.
Choose a juicer with a wide feed tube to avoid having to chop produce into small pieces. Centrifugal juicers are the easiest to clean, and some have dishwasher-safe parts. Single and twin-gear models are harder to clean, and may require special brushes.
Inexpensive juicers work well on soft fruit, but frequent use and tougher vegetables will wear out the motor and cutting blade quickly. If you want to juice a lot and like hard vegetables like carrots, choose a higher quality, sturdier model with stainless steel parts. Well-made juicers offer 5-15 year warranties, while cheaper models are guaranteed for just 90 days to 1 year.
This type of juicer first finely grates fruits and veggies, then flings them against the sides of a very rapidly spinning mesh strainer basket – the action is similar to your washing machine’s spin cycle. The centrifugal force created by the high RPMs pushes the juice through the mesh screen, while the pulp stays put in the basket (or is expelled separately, in pulp-ejection models).
Single gear juicers use a screw-like gear (sometimes called an auger) to “chew up” and crush produce against a screen. Low RPMs keep oxidation to a minimum, delivering high-quality, nutrient-rich juice. This style of juicer can handle wheatgrass and leafy greens.
This juicer design uses two interlocking gears rotating at low RPMs, first crushing your produce, then squeezing it. These high-quality, top-dollar juicers offer maximum juice yield and minimum oxidation for the best possible preservation of valuable nutrients. They do a great job on leafy greens, wheatgrass, and all vegetables, but are not the best choice if you mainly want to juice fruits.
Juicers with pulp ejection separate the fruit and vegetable solids or “pulp” from the juice and automatically expel them into a container. Pulp ejection lets you juice continuously without having to stop the juicer to remove the pulp, and it speeds cleanup. One caveat — juicers that don’t eject the pulp yield more juice from the same amount of produce than those that do.
Short for revolutions per minute, this is a measure of how fast a juicer’s motor turns. Centrifugal juicers rely on speed, spinning at 3600-13000 RPMs. Single gear and twin gear juicers operate at much lower RPMs, typically just 70-160. Low RPM juicers will deliver the most nutrient-packed juice; high RPMs create heat and foam which oxidize juice, meaning fewer vitamins, minerals, and enzymes in your glass.
A measure of the rate at which a juicer’s motor can work. Single and twin-gear motors are rated in horsepower, while centrifugal juicers’ motors are rated in watts. One horsepower (or HP) is equal to 746 watts. A gear juicer’s design can often tackle much tougher jobs than a centrifugal juicer, even if it has a lower power rating.
There are three main types of multi-purpose juicers. Centrifugal juicers chop produce with a blade, then throw the bits against the sides of a mesh basket that spins very fast – at 3600 to 13000 RPMs. It’s like your laundry during the spin cycle. The centrifugal force from the spinning pushes juice through the mesh screen, leaving the solid pulp behind. Centrifugal juicers are the most common and popular option, for good reason. They juice quickly, are the easiest to use and clean, and are the most affordable juicers. Do you plan to mostly juice fruits? Centrifugal is the best juicer for the job, and a quality model can handle many veggies as well.
The downside is that rapid RPMs generate heat and introduce air into juice, causing oxidation. This can damage nutrients, so the juice’s health benefits, while still significant, are lessened. Centrifugal juicers can’t juice leafy greens or wheatgrass, and inexpensive models balk at tougher veggies like carrots and beets. They’re also the noisiest juicers.
If you’re a serious juicing enthusiast seeking maximum health benefits, go for a single-gear or twin-gear juicer. These juicers use screw-like gears (or “augers”) that turn at much slower RPMs (80-160) to crush produce. In single-gear models, one gear crushes veggies or fruits against a screen; in twin-gear models the produce is crushed between two interlocking gears.
From a health standpoint, low RPMs rule. The slow turning creates much less heat and oxidation, so more vital nutrients survive. Single and twin-gear juicers also squeeze a higher yield of juice from your raw produce, and they’re considerably quieter than centrifugal juicers. They can handle any vegetable, including leafy greens and wheatgrass. They can even multi-task, making baby food, nut butters, and sorbets. Either type is a great choice for a hardcore juicer, but twin-gear technology is the gold standard. It delivers maximum nutritional value, yield, and quality of juice – at a maximum price.
Single and twin-gear juicers have downsides too. They’re designed to juice vegetables, and aren’t great on fruits, often requiring an attachment to juice them at all. They’re harder to clean than centrifugal juicers, and twin-gear juicers are fussy to re-assemble after cleaning. Last but not least, they’re harder on the wallet, especially twin-gear models.
A juicer’s job is to separate the juice in fruits and veggies from the solids, called “pulp.” So where does the pulp go? It depends on which juicer you choose. Many popular juicers feature pulp-ejection – they automatically discharge the pulp into a separate container which can be lined with a plastic bag. This makes it a cinch to drop the pulp in the trash, or on the compost heap. Pulp-ejection is also convenient if you make a lot of juice at once – it lets you juice continuously without stopping the juicer to empty out the built-up pulp.
But there are advantages to juicers that don’t eject pulp. While you’ll have to stop occasionally and scoop out the pulp by hand, your reward is a higher yield. Pulp retaining juicers yield up to 30% more juice from the same amount of fruit. Clean up is a bit harder than ejection juicers, but paper filters are available to make it easier. Also, they’re quieter than their pulp-ejecting cousins.
A powerful juicer motor is definitely a plus, but comparing power can be confusing. Centrifugal juicers’ motors are rated in watts, ranging from around 200-1000, with pricier juicers offering more watts. High wattage allows the basket to spin at higher RPMs, for faster juicing and more power to tackle hard vegetables. Look for a juicer with at least 450 watts for solid, versatile performance.
Single and twin-gear juicer motors are rated in horsepower (HP), with most offering 1/2 to 1/3 HP. One HP equals 746 watts, so it may seem like these juicers are less powerful, but don’t be fooled. Since single and twin-gear juicers use very low RPMs, they don’t need the equivalent of 1000 watts – the power is in the design, and these juicers handle tough vegetables better than their centrifugal counterparts.
Yield is the ratio of juice you get from your raw produce. If you want to wring out every last drop, single and twin-gear juicers do the best job, with twin-gear taking top honors. If you’d prefer an easy-to-use, affordable centrifugal juicer, maximize your yield by choosing one with a high-watt motor, or one that retains pulp instead of ejecting it.
How much time do you want to spend juicing? If speed and ease are priorities, a model with a wide feed tube will let you feed whole apples, pears, or even heads of celery into your juicer without chopping them first. A smaller feed tube means you’ll be on dicing duty before you can start juicing.
Most juicers have 4 to 7 parts to clean after each use. If fast cleanup is on your wish list, choose a centrifugal juicer – they’re the speediest to clean, especially pulp-ejecting models. Some juicers have dishwasher-safe parts, but others require hand washing, so be sure to check. Single and twin-gear juicers take longer to clean, may require brushes, and are more fidgety to re-assemble – so consider whether extra nutrition is worth extra time to you.
Inexpensive juicers can be a great buy if you don’t overwork them and plan to mainly juice soft fruits. But low-end motors and blades wear out quickly if you juice daily and try to tackle hard veggies like carrots. Serious juicing enthusiasts should invest in a mid-to-high range juicer. These are sturdily constructed with powerful motors and stainless steel cutters, screens, and gears that can stand up to rigorous use.
Predictably, inexpensive juicers come with shorter warranties. One year is typical, but some offer just 90 days. A high-quality juicer will come with a 5 to 15 year warranty, letting you confidently toss in that chunk of pineapple, rind and all.