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Article

The big squeeze

Juicers deliver the essence of fruits and vegetables

Fine Cooking Issue 96
Photos: Scott Phillips
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Nothing can match the intense flavor of fresh juice, whether squeezed from a peach to make a Bellini or from a carrot to make a sauce reduction. But the world of countertop electric juicers is complex, with confusing jargon (designs include centrifugal, pulp ejection, and masticating), different functions (some can’t handle grasses or leafy greens), and a wide range in price ($50 to more than $2,200).

We set out to identify the type of juicer most useful for the cook in producing beverage-quality juices as well as vegetable and fruit extractions for reduction sauces, sorbets, and cold soups. Centrifugal juicers ended up being the best all-around choice for almost any fruit or vegetable and for getting the job done easily and quickly.

After narrowing the field, we tested 13 centrifugal juicers, both with and without pulp ejection (see “How centrifugal juicers work,” below). All the juicers we tested produced juice efficiently from vegetables, fruit, and greens. Our top five choices boasted features and functionality that lifted them above the competition.

How centrifugal juicers work

Think of these juicers as a washing machine on the spin cycle. The vegetable or fruit is pushed against a rotating grater disk and shredded to a pulp. This pulp falls into a basket, spins at high speed, and centrifugal force throws the pulp against a basket screen, straining out the juice. The pulp builds up in the basket, which needs to be emptied after every half-dozen fruits or vegetables.

Centrifugal juicers that have a pulp ejection feature discharge the pulp into a separate container, so you can juice continuously without having to stop and empty the basket. But the pulp bin adds to the juicer’s size and is an additional item to wash.

What to look for

  • If space is an issue, choose a centrifugal juicer without pulp ejection, as these machines tend to be smaller.
  • If you expect to juice large amounts of fruits or vegetables, get a model with pulp ejection.
  • Steel construction is preferable over plastic, for both sturdiness and stain resistance.
  • The width of the feed chute will determine how much chopping you need to do.
  • Warranties range from 90 days to 15 years. If you’re planning to use your juicer often, it makes sense to spend more for more coverage.

Breville Juice Fountain Elite
$290, Chefcentral.com
Pulp ejection: Yes

With die-cast steel construction, a generous 3-inch feed tube, superior juicing performance, and sleek good looks, the Juice Fountain lives up to its name. Feed in the produce and a torrent of juice with only a trace of pulp pours from the spout. The Breville has two speeds: low for juicing soft fruits and greens, and high for hard foods. It comes with a one-year warranty and carries an additional three-year warranty on the motor.

Omega O2
$100, Juicersforless.com
Pulp ejection: Yes

Most pulp-ejection juicers take up a lot of space because of the pulp bin, but the Omega O2 has been designed to produce just a few servings of juice. It proved to be our favorite among the smaller juicers because it performed well in a compact space. The feed tube is 2-1/2 inches wide, requiring you to cut up most produce. The O2 juices hard food beautifully and extracts juice from soft foods well, though it didn’t produce as much juice from leafy greens as the other units tested. It comes with a five-year warranty. If you’ll be juicing just two or three servings at a time, the O2 will likely provide enough juicing power and capacity, in a compact unit.

L’Equip XL 215
$140, Harvestessentials.com
Pulp ejection: Yes

The L’Equip is a good mid-range juicer made affordable by plastic parts. The 3-inch feed tube gives just enough extra room that you can juice small apples and beets without cutting them first, saving on prep time. It performed well on hard and soft foods and extracted a surprising amount of juice from leafy greens. The food pusher comes with a locking safety feature to prevent items that are too large from going down the feed tube, but we found it didn’t work well, instead stopping food halfway down the chute. The L’Equip comes with a six-year warranty on the motor and one-year warranty on the blade.

Omega 1000
$200, Cookware.com
Pulp ejection: No

This Omega model and the Waring Pro are nearly identical, except that this one has a plastic top and a slightly larger feed tube, at 2-1/2 inches. Both have commercial-grade construction and powerful but quiet motors. Be sure to buy the paper basket liners that both Waring and Omega offer. When the basket is ready for cleaning, just lift out the liner and the pulp comes with it. The result is easier cleanup and pulp-free juice. It comes with an impressive 10-year warranty.

Waring Pro Juicing Center
$260, Lowes.com
Pulp ejection: No

A sturdily constructed juicer, the Waring is powerful yet quieter than the other juicers. It has a particularly narrow feed tube of only 2 inches, so apples, beets, and even large carrots must be cut into pieces before juicing. It’s one of the largest juicers we tested and not as intuitive to use as the others (we had to reread the manual to figure out how to remove the basket). This model comes with a citrus press attachment, so you can juice oranges and lemons without peeling. It has a five-year motor warranty.

How we tested

  • We juiced apples, beets, carrots, and ginger to assess how each machine’s motor handled hard fruits and vegetables. We wanted maximum juice extraction with minimal noise and vibration.
  • Soft foods can be a challenge for some juicers, which spin the food so fast that it is slung, unjuiced, into the pulp bin. We juiced peeled watermelon and sliced, pitted peaches, looking for relatively dry pulp, which indicates that the maximum amount of juice has been extracted.
  • We juiced large leaves of kale, which typically are more difficult to juice than hard food because of the supple texture.
  • Each machine was rated for ease of assembly and use, including cleanup.

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