Juicers are becoming an indispensable kitchen appliance
No matter how often you may need a juicer, it's indisputably one of the best tools you can have around the house to improve your overall diet and nutrition. A juicer's primary purpose is to separate the juice in fruits and vegetables from the peel and pulp. The best extract the maximum amount of juice, then make it easy to discard the pulp, leaving only the pure, healthy juice.
In spite of its increasingly mainstream presence, there is some controversy as to whether or not juicing is necessary or even healthy. There's no doubt that drinking your vegetables and fruits should not replace eating them. You need the fiber from produce as well, and you're straining that out when you juice. In addition, drinking too much fruit juice is just as bad as eating too much sugar, experts note, so most juice drinks should focus on the juice from vegetables.
However, many nutritionists point out that juicing can be an efficient way to increase your nutrient intake since you can get the benefits of, say, an entire bunch of kale without having to eat that much of it. You can even add some of the pulp back in to the juice for added fiber, or use it for cooking. Also, if you hate veggies and absolutely won't eat them, drinking the juice is definitely a great alternative.
It's important to note that these machines are not smoothie makers and aren't suitable for super soft fruits like bananas. If you have a yen for a smoothie, see our separate report on blenders . For a versatile appliance that can chop, dice, mix, blend and shred, see our report on food processors .
Juicers can be broken up into three broad categories:
Manual juicers are as basic as they come. This is the go-to tool for those who may just need an occasional few tablespoons of lemon, lime or orange juice, but don't want to keep the bottled stuff around. Some are handheld and you place the fruit into the mechanism and squeeze it. Others sit on a counter and juice into a small, included bowl; you just have to press down. Some presses can be pricey, but they get great reviews for efficiency and durability. Those are particularly popular with folks who may have an at-home bar set-up, because they are ideal for creating individual drink mixers.
Electric citrus juicers are a step up, and are best for medium-sized jobs. This type of juicer has a small electric motor and does a good job of scouring the juice out of any type of citrus fruit. The best can handle multiple batches without burning up, and even the less-expensive models can easily keep a family in fresh orange juice or lemonade. They're not appropriate for heavy use and they won't juice vegetables or non-citrus fruits. Citrus juicers are sometimes incorrectly referred to as citrus reamers. A citrus reamer is actually a simple, one-piece tool. It juices a single orange, lemon or lime, but does not strain the juice, that needs to be done as a separate step. Electric citrus juicers have a built-in strainer.
Centrifugal juicers are by far the most popular type of juicer. They can handle a variety of fruits and vegetables quickly and efficiently. The best are easy to use and clean, and extract the maximum amount of juice from your produce, leaving little waste. They can be noisy, however, so look for one that gets good reviews for its quiet performance. Although this type of juicer can be expensive, with some models costing more than $500, there are plenty of great choices in the $100 to $200 range.
Masticating juicers are best for tough greens. Masticating juicers are highly versatile appliances that grind the juice out of even the toughest vegetables. They also can act almost as a food processor, making nut butters, grinding spices, making baby food and even extruding pasta. The big selling point of the masticating juicer is its slow crushing process that wrings every bit of juice from the produce without heating it up. Some nutritionist believe this helps to maintain the enzymes and nutrients in the greens, so you get a bigger nutritional bang for your buck. The jury is still out -- there are plenty of dissenters who say there's no proof of that -- but these juicers are growing in popularity as vegetable juice and juice cleanses become a part of the mainstream American way of eating.
ConsumerSearch editors evaluated expert roundups, professional tests and hundreds of owner reviews to find the best juicers in four categories: manual, centrifugal, electric and masticating. We looked at the results of test performed by ConsumerReports.org, Cook's Illustrated, Good Housekeeping and Fine Cooking, and took into account the months of research performed by the folks at SweetHome.com. Consumer review sites such as Amazon.com and Walmart.com spoke to long term durability and reliability. In addition to performance, the most important factor, we looked at ease of assembly, use and cleaning because if it's a hassle, your juicer will probably just sit in a cupboard somewhere. Noise was factored in because a noisy appliance can be annoying. The products we chose rose to the top in every category and the range of sizes and prices means we found a top juicer that will fit into most people's lifestyle, budget and kitchen.