Fruit & Vegetable Juicers: Should You Buy One?

My husband and I have suddenly become juice fiends this summer. We drink it straight, mix it with fizzy water, and of course, use it in fresh-fruit cocktails. We've been considering getting a counter-top juicer so we can make our own fresh juice, but hoo-boy, can these juicers get expensive. Do we really need one?

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As Emily explained in her review of the Hurom Slow Juicer, there are two types of juicers out there: ones that press the fruit to squeeze out the juice (like the Hurom) and those that spin the fruit pulp to separate out the juice (like the Breville Juice Fountain). Both types of juicers get the job done, but with some differences.

The press-juicers, called masticating juicers, tend to yield slightly more juice and work very well at extracting juice from low-moisture fruits and vegetables. These juicers also create less heat as they work, which in turn keeps the juice from heating up. Since even a little heat can cause enzymatic changes in fruits and vegetables, this can be important if truly raw food is your goal. Also worth noting, masticating juicers produce less foam in the juice. Aside from giving you a smoother juice, this actually increases the shelf-life of the juice.

The spinning juicers, called centrifugal juicers, will juice up a pile of fruits and veggies much more quickly than masticating juicers. However, they will heat up the juice a bit as they work and they aren't as effective at extracting all the juice from your produce. The spinning action also foams up the juice quite a bit and the oxygen incorporated into the juice can decrease its shelf-life.

As you might expect, masticating juicers tend to be more expensive than the centrifugal juicers. The centrifugal juicers are about $100-$200 on average. The masticating kind are typically in the neighborhood of $200-$300.

There are some physical features to think about, as well. How much counter-space does it take up? Is the juicer easy to store? How big is the feed-tube? Is the cord long enough to reach the outlet? How much juice does the juicer's reservoir hold? Does the juicer disassemble and clean up easily? For the answers to these questions, it's a good idea to take a trip to a store like Sur la Table so you can see, touch, and manipulate each model.

The question of should you buy a juicer really comes down to how and how much you'll use one. For me and my husband, a less-expensive centrifugal juicer seems to make more sense since we just want a way to make fresh juice for casual sipping and aren't as interested in integrating juice into our diet right now. But if you think you'll be using the juicer every day and want the nutritional benefits promised by the masticating juicers, investing in one of those models seems like it would be well worth the money.

And if a new juicer is out of your price range right now, keep your eyes peeled at garage sales and check on Craig's List. You might just score yourself a fancy juicer!

Here are the models that we've reviewed in the past:

Hurom Slow Juicer (masticating juicer), $339 on Amazon
Breville Compact Juice Fountain (centrifugal juicer), $150 on Amazon
Breville Ikon Multi-Speed Juice Fountain (centrifugal juicer), $200 on Amazon

Do you recommend buying a juicer? What model do you use?

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Related: Citrus Tips: Get the Most Juice from Limes and Lemons

(Images: Emily Ho and Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan)

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