Juicers are great if you like the idea of making your own juice from fresh fruits and vegetables. Use this juice maker guide to select one, whether for a glass of fresh-squeezed juice in the morning or a more robust mixture later in the day.
The nutritional benefits of eating fruits and vegetables are undeniable, but what about drinking them instead? Infomercials have made it easy to buy into myriad claims of easing muscle aches, alleviating high blood pressure, and even (in those pre-Viagra days) increasing sexual potency. The evidence says otherwise, because juice cannot be any better than the produce from which it's made. It can even be less nutritious because it lacks most of the fiber of fresh produce.
Still, you might like the taste of fresh juice or find juice more palatable than a plate of produce. Here's a primer on what to look for when choosing between the two types of juicer. Whichever you buy, be prepared to buy lots of fresh produce--depending on your fruit or vegetables of choice. Some extractors get more out of produce than others, and the proportion of pulp to juice varies from fruit to fruit. And with extractors in particular, be prepared to clean pulp out of every nook and cranny after each use.
The type of juice maker you choose depends on the type of juice you like to drink, and how long you want to spend preparing it. Here are two types of juice makers to consider.
Auger-style juicers, which you might also see referred to as masticating or cold press juicers, work by slowly crushing and mashing the fruits and vegetables. They are typically more expensive--our top-rated model in this category is over $400. The machines can also take some getting used to, since the augers can jam when grinding tough fruits and veggies. Every machine we tested has a reverse button for this reason, but that makes for an even more hands-on process. The big upside with auger-style juicers: the models we tested tended to leave behind more pulp, which can result in healthier, more fiber-rich juices.
Juice extractors use a rapidly whirling disk to cut fruit or vegetables into tiny pieces that are then spun to separate juice from pulp. Once separated from the pulp, the juice flows through a strainer and into a container. Whatever you put in still needs to be cleaned and prepared first. Fruits with waxed or hard peels, for example, need to be peeled--with any large pits removed. Vegetables must be cleaned and, in some cases, scrubbed with a brush. And some extractors, especially those that require full dismantling, can be a bother to clean.
Look for juice-maker features that make the machines easier to use, store and clean. Also make sure that the juicer accommodates the type of fruit or vegetable you wish to use without a lot of prep work. Here are the juicemaker features to consider.
Clear juice container
With a see-through container, you can easily see the juice level. Better, though not universal among units we've tested, are visible markings in fluid ounces and milliliters.
Even models with long cords typically have some way to hide the cord when you're not using the unit.
Removable parts, which must be washed after each use, can be placed on the top rack of the dishwasher.
Protects the opening of the chute where you insert produce for juicing.
Accommodates larger pieces of produce to cut down prep time.
Cords up to four feet or longer allow more flexibility in where you can place the unit.
This allows for some variation of juice pulpiness, though fully pulp free is not necessarily an option.
There are some familiar players in the juice-maker market, including one brand, Cuisinart, that offers a juicer as an accessory to its other products. Use these profiles to compare juice makers by brand.
Black & Decker
This major brand offers a range of citrus juicers and juice extractors in various capacities, touting one-handed operation and easy cleaning. Black & Decker juice products are available through online retailers, Walmart, Target, Kmart, and other sellers.
This mid-range-to-premium brand currently offers mostly juicer accessories to products such as stand mixers and food processors. Cuisinart is widely available in department, specialty, and appliance stores, and through online retailers.
This brand offers a selection of low-priced juice extractors in the HealthSmart and Big Mouth lines. The latter can fit some whole foods, such as small apples, without preslicing. Products made by Hamilton Beach, along with those of its sister brand Proctor Silex, are available through department stores, appliances stores, and big-box retailers.
Born in the early days of World War I, Jack LaLanne is a fitness expert whose health and fitness show enjoyed a 34-year run. His Power Juicer, sold in several models, is available today via phone order, over the Internet, and at mass-market retailers such as Walmart, Kmart, and Target.
Now endorsed by the tennis legend Martina Navratilova, the Juiceman line of juice extractors began in the ‘90s with feature-length TV commercials by the pitchman Jay "The Juiceman" Kordich. Available in several models, they’re sold at mass-market retailers such as Walmart, Sears, and Kmart.
A subsidiary of Jarden Consumer Solutions, which also owns Sunbeam, Oster offers a handful of citrus juicers and juice extractors. You can find the brand online and at mass-market retailers such as Walmart, Sears, and Kmart.