Electric Juicers (Juice Extractors)

Published September 1, 2012. From Cook's Illustrated.

While citrus reamers tackle oranges and the like, juice extractors expand the options to almost any fruit or vegetable.

Overview:

While citrus reamers tackle oranges and the like, juice extractors expand the options to almost any fruit or vegetable. These machines extract liquid in one of two ways: Masticating juicers use an auger that grinds the produce and presses it against a strainer; centrifugal juicers shred and spin the food on a serrated disk. Of the six models we tested (four centrifugal, two masticating), each style yielded about the same amount of juice from a measured quantity of produce, but centrifugal juicers, which operate at a higher rpm, tended to be louder.

Noise level aside, we discovered two downsides to the juices extracted from masticating models: They didn’t have as much flavor and they didn’t taste fresh as long. When produce is cut, it releases enzymes that oxidize some of the food’s flavor compounds, a process that degrades taste (and also causes darkening). But as a juicer continues to break down the produce, some of the enzymes also get broken down, rendering them inactive. The lower horsepower of the masticating machines doesn… read more

While citrus reamers tackle oranges and the like, juice extractors expand the options to almost any fruit or vegetable. These machines extract liquid in one of two ways: Masticating juicers use an auger that grinds the produce and presses it against a strainer; centrifugal juicers shred and spin the food on a serrated disk. Of the six models we tested (four centrifugal, two masticating), each style yielded about the same amount of juice from a measured quantity of produce, but centrifugal juicers, which operate at a higher rpm, tended to be louder.

Noise level aside, we discovered two downsides to the juices extracted from masticating models: They didn’t have as much flavor and they didn’t taste fresh as long. When produce is cut, it releases enzymes that oxidize some of the food’s flavor compounds, a process that degrades taste (and also causes darkening). But as a juicer continues to break down the produce, some of the enzymes also get broken down, rendering them inactive. The lower horsepower of the masticating machines doesn’t kill off these enzymes as efficiently as the higher spinning rate of the centrifugal machines, leading to juice that darkened and lost flavor when we let it sit overnight in the fridge. Conversely, juice from centrifugal machines was still bright and fresh-tasting after three days in the refrigerator. 

In both styles, some models made us work harder than others. Juicers with narrow (2-inch-wide) tubes had us dicing apples into bite-size morsels and cutting pineapples into skinny strips, and some required that we tediously feed the food through the chute one piece at a time. One model had a tiny receptacle for catching pulp, forcing us to constantly stop juicing to empty it. Several juicers lurched and scooted on the counter. Some had six or seven complicated parts or tight crevices that trapped food, making the models harder to assemble and harder to clean—though most models came with a plastic brush to help dislodge stray shreds from the strainers.

Only one model excelled across the board. It breezed through pineapples, oranges, apples, and kale. It was not overly loud, even though it used centrifugal technology; it was easy to assemble and clean—especially since most of its parts are top-rack dishwasher-safe; and best of all, at $149.99, it was reasonably priced. 

Methodology:

EASE OF USE: To measure ease of use, we evaluated whether the machine created a mess, whether it has a wide feed tube to reduce precutting foods, its noise output, and how difficult it is to remove and dispose of pulp.

EASE OF CLEANUP: We made beet juice in each machine, then washed all juicer parts with warm soapy water and evaluated how easily this was accomplished and whether the machine trapped grunge or pulp that could not be easily cleaned.

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  • Product Tested

    Results Key:

    Good ★ ★ ★ Fair ★ ★ Poor
  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Highly Recommended - Winner

    Breville Juice Fountain Plus

    This surprisingly quiet centrifugal juicer whipped through fruits and vegetables with ease on high and low speeds, and its 3-inch-wide feed chute accommodated large apple quarters or multiple carrots at a time. It was easy to assemble and its smooth surfaces (with fewer nooks and crannies than other models) proved easy to clean. Its stiff cleaning brush made a clean sweep of pulpy bits in the fine-mesh strainer basket. All parts except the food pusher are top-rack dishwasher-safe.

    • Cleanup ★★★
    • Ease of Use ★★★
    • Performance ★★★

    $149.99

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  • Recommended with Reservations

    Omega VRT350 Low Speed Juicer

    This pricey masticating model juiced everything—but only if we inserted produce slowly. (Using the reverse mode helped dislodge food.) Plus, its small feed tube hindered efficiency, the parts were tricky to reassemble, and the spout that off-loads pulp frequently clogged.

    • Cleanup
    • Ease of Use ★★
    • Performance ★★★

    $379.99

  • Recommended with Reservations

    Champion Commercial Juicer

    This commercial-level juicer came with a few perks: an additional fine-mesh strainer for holding back foam and a grinding plate for making nut butters. But its 2-inch-wide feed tube forced us to precut the produce, and its 20-pound frame was uncomfortably heavy to move. Removing the mesh screen for cleaning was tricky, and the small “teeth” of its serrated auger didn’t take on kale and beets unless we pressed hard with the plunger.

     

    • Cleanup ★★
    • Ease of Use
    • Performance ★★

    $259.99

  • Recommended with Reservations

    Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juice Extractor

    The good news: This centrifugal juicer’s large feed tube made for short prep work, and it juiced apples with ease. The bad: It whined loudly and struggled with tougher foods like kale and beets, scooting on the counter. A tight seam surrounding the cutting disk trapped pulp and made cleaning a chore. We liked the juice collection carafe.

    • Cleanup
    • Ease of Use ★★
    • Performance ★★

    $59.99

  • Recommended with Reservations

    Juiceman Juice Extractor and Citrus Juicer

    This centrifugal juicer’s citrus reamer attachment seemed like a plus until it required brute force to use and made a deafening screech. It was also the only model that didn’t off-load the pulp, which hampered efficiency. The silver lining: The juice spout was adjustable, allowing us to stop the flow if we’d left the collection carafe out of place, and the parts proved easy to reassemble after cleaning.

     

    • Cleanup ★★
    • Ease of Use
    • Performance ★½

    $80.99

  • Not Recommended

    Oster 400-Watt Single-Speed Juice Extractor

    The smallest juicer in our lineup lurched on the counter as it struggled on carrots, and its 400-watt motor juiced everything at a loud continuous whine. Thin slices of apple and leaves of kale slipped past its serrated base unprocessed. Its tiny feed chute forced us to pare apples into eighths and pineapples into skinny strips. It was the only juicer that didn’t include a brush for cleaning.

    • Cleanup
    • Ease of Use
    • Performance

    $56.65

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