What the best juicer has
- Versatility. Which type of juicer you choose depends on whether you intend to use it primarily for juicing wheatgrass and other fibrous greens (go for masticating gears) or a wider variety of fruits and vegetables (in that case, go for a centrifugal juicer). However, masticating juicers can often perform other tasks, even extruding pasta or grinding nuts. The more your appliance can do, the more value it can offer.
- A wide feeder chute. This isn't an absolute deal breaker, but it cuts down on the slicing and dicing you have to do before you juice, which can save valuable prep time.
- Dishwasher-safe parts. This makes for quick, easy cleanup. Relatively few nooks and crannies where food can get stuck are another plus.
- Multiple speeds for juicing a variety of produce. This isn't a consideration for masticating juicers, but having an extra, slower speed can make a big difference when juicing greens with a centrifugal model.
- A stable base. Beware of inexpensive juicers that may "walk" across the counter when you have a big job to do. A juicer should get good reviews for its solid stability.
Know before you go
What do you want to juice? If you just need a bit of lemon juice now and then for a recipe or marinade, a manual juicer will be more than sufficient for your needs. If you also like to fill a glass with fresh-squeezed orange juice, but are not into juicing veggies, an electric citrus juicer will do just fine. If you want to juice a variety of fruits and vegetables, a centrifugal juicer -- the most common type -- will perform very well in your kitchen. Centrifugal juicers are also suitable for serious juicers, such as people who frequently do juice fasts or cleanses. However, if you're really serious about that type of juicing, you should probably look into a masticating juicer. They are the gold standard for those who like to incorporate fibrous grasses and vegetables into their juice drinks.
Where will you store your juicer? Sometimes buyers are surprised by just how large a juicer can be, particularly masticating juicers, which often have a horizontal footprint and can be real space hogs. Be sure your juicer fits where you want to put it. And remember -- many juicers are hefty. If you're not going to keep it on the counter, be sure that you can lift it in and out of its storage space.
Do you have housemates to consider? Many juicers are loud enough to wake up a person sleeping elsewhere in the house or disturb phone conversations. If either will be a problem, opt for a relatively quiet model; masticating juicers tend to be the quietest, but are also very slow.
How much time are you willing to spend juicing? Masticating juicers take much longer than centrifugal juicers to go through the same amount of produce -- so if you're always in a rush, go centrifugal. Also, exterior pulp collectors are faster and easier to empty (and clean) than internal pulp baskets.
Do you like a lot of pulp in your citrus juice? If so, shop for a citrus juicer with a pulp regulator or filter that allows you to control how much ends up in the juice, instead of straining it out completely.
Value expectations: The dollars and cents of it
A juicer's initial cost isn't always the bottom line. When you have to replace that low-end juicer you bought a few weeks ago, it's not much of a bargain -- so it's often worth setting your sights higher and paying a little more for something with better durability. Ease of use is also important as the easier your juicer is to use, the more likely you are to get your money's worth.
Here's another value consideration: The best high-end juicers can extract 25 percent more juice from the same amount of produce than a cheaper model. Depending on how much and how frequently you juice, these savings can quickly make up for the more expensive purchase price.
Finally, be realistic. If you think you'll save money squeezing your own juice, think again. It can take several pounds of fresh produce to make a single quart of juice, so unless you grow your own fruits and vegetables, your homemade juice will probably cost more than juice from a supermarket. Still, if fresh versus bottled (or frozen) is worth it to you, as it is for many people, then juice away!