Sick of paying $7 or more for your daily juice fix? We know the feeling. The time has come then to invest in a juicer of your own. Sure, it can be a commitment, both financially and in terms of counter space real estate, but that's a small price to pay for an appliance that guarantees the perfect green juice day in and day out.
The main thing you need to know about juicers is that there are two types: Centrifugal juicers spin and pulverize fruit and veggies in a mesh basket that's lined with teeth; the juice filters through the mesh basket and trickles out through a spigot. Masticating juicers work by grinding fruits and veggies with a slowly turning auger; the juice is pressed through a mesh screen, and the ground-up solids from the produce are expelled into a waste collector. Within the masticating juicer category, there's also something called a slow juicer, which has an upright design that takes up less counter space, and its auger moves even slower.
The speed in which the juice is extracted is a big deal in the juicing world: Some experts claim that a faster juicing process can increase oxidation, generate more foam and raise the temperature of the juice, thus destroying nutrients. But even if you don't buy into the temperature increase debate, what you should care about is that centrifugal juicers aren't able to wring quite as much juice from foods. They also aren't as adept at handling leafy greens and wheatgrass. Still, they're significantly cheaper than their masticating counterparts.
We tested a range of juicers, both masticating and centrifugal, to bring you the four best options at various prices. We juiced a veritable cornucopia of produce—beets, apples, pineapple, watermelon, kale, wheatgrass and cucumbers—to see how each model stacks up. Here are our favorites:
Hurom Elite Slow Juicer, $400
Why We Like It: Hurom is one of the innovators in the slow juicer category, and the HH Elite is one of the brand's top options. It's compact and beautifully designed, so you won't mind giving it point of pride on your countertop. And it processes amazingly well, yielding juice that remains cool and has very little foam on top. If you like getting creative with your ingredients, this juicer is for you: It comes with both a coarse and a fine strainer, so you can control the amount of pulp that makes it into your glass, and there's a lever to adjust the pulp extraction for juicing things with small seeds. There's even a self-cleaning setting, which allows you to fill the chamber with water and run it (although you'll still need to give it a rinse in the sink). And we like the little touches, like a cap over the juice spigot so that the juice blends before releasing it into the container, two different-size cleaning brushes, a lid for the top of the hopper to keep it dust free when not in use and a big recipe booklet full of sips (including cocktails!).
The Drawbacks: During most juicing sessions, pulp got stuck in the chute, despite a cleaning lever that was supposed to help release it, making it difficult to clean. It's also not cheap.
Omega J8004, $260
Why We Like It: This juicer is super easy to assemble (as well as to disassemble and wash), which scores major points when you have a daily juicing habit. It's also very quiet, so early risers don't need to worry about waking anyone else up. Although the small funnel (less than 1.5 inches) means you've got to chop everything up pretty well, once the prep work is done, it processes everything quickly and thoroughly, and does especially well with kale. Judging by how dry the pulp felt, it was astonishingly thorough, squeezing every possible bit of moisture from the produce. If you don't like the white finish on the 8004 model, the 8006 is black and chrome—but $40 more. Incidentally, the Omega 8004 doesn't just juice: It comes with attachments and nozzles that allow you to extrude pasta, homogenize foods (i.e., for baby food) and make nut butters.
The Drawbacks: The Omega generates a lot of foam, so much so that it comes packaged with a mesh strainer to skim it off the top.
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L'Equip XL Juicer, $120
Why We Like It: This centrifugal juicer is not only affordable, it's also one of the best performing we've tried. It's got a nice wide hopper, so you don't have to cut up your produce as much as necessary for the small chutes in masticating juicers (it can fit a small apple cut in half, for instance). With all the fruits and veggies we juiced, we found that it processed everything but wheatgrass admirably—even kale—and produced a juice that wasn't overly heated or foamy. The assembly is held together by clamps, which is easier than trying to properly line up parts that need to turn to lock into place. A mini version is available for $20 less, which is a great option for small kitchens or single people.
The Drawbacks: The juicer doesn't come with a juice collection pitcher or a cleaning brush (and it could use one to help get pulp from the fine mesh screen). It also splatters a bit as the juice comes out of the chute.
Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juice Extractor, $70
Why We Like It: At $70 (or less if you can find it on sale), this juicer is a great entrée for someone who is nervous about making a huge commitment to juicing. And it doesn't disappoint: As long as you push the fruits and vegetables through the chute slowly, it's fairly efficient at mining the optimal amount of juice from the produce. It works best with harder foods like carrots, beets and apples; softer foods like watermelon or cucumbers leave a very wet pulp.
The Drawbacks: The pulp collection container is needlessly large and adds a lot of bulk to this juicer. Also, it has a tendency to hop around on the counter, especially while processing particularly hard foods like carrots, so you might need to keep a hand on the unit to hold it steady.
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