Simply put, a juicer separates nutrient-rich juice from the fibers of fruit and vegetables, so your digestive system doesn’t have too. There are machines that do this very well and I can tell you from experience there are many more that do it poorly. A well-made juicer is almost magical—a carrot disappears and out comes fresh carrot juice. After 20 years I still enjoy the juicing process.
There are three different methodologies juicers use:
This is the most common juicer you will see on those late-night infomercials. Produce is pushed down a chute into a spinning basket. The base of the basket has tiny teeth that grind the fruit or vegetables into a soft mush. Because the basket is spinning at a high rate, the wet mush is thrown against the side of the basket, much like wet clothes in the spin cycle. Like your laundry tub, the side of the basket is porous, allowing the mush to release its juice using centrifugal force. The dry pulp flies out the top of the basket and is directed into a pulp dispenser while the juice drains from a spigot into your waiting cup.
Masticating, i.e., chewing, is a very different method. Produce is pushed down a chute into a slow-moving screw-like blade that is powered by a strong, low RPM, high-torque motor. Sometimes there are two screws working in parallel. They chew the food into a mush which is then pushed by the screw down a tapered tube, squeezing the juice from the pulp. Mesh on the bottom of the tube allows the juice to be released into a container while pulp exits the end of the tube. One of the first masticating machines was the Champion.
We are all familiar with the citrus press; it works on a very simple principle. Citrus fruit, such as lemon, is cut in half horizontally across its segments. The cut half is then pressed down on a reamer which has an inverted shape to the fruit. Some reamers are motorized and turn; others use long arms for leverage and you push a cup down onto the half-fruit, simply using pressure to squeeze the juice.
Centrifugal vs. Masticating – The Great Debate
Here’s how the debate goes. The masticating people say that centrifugal juicers spin too fast, resulting in the heating and oxidizing of juice, damaging delicate enzymes and reducing storage life. The other side believes that the chewing process of a masticating juicer releases a greater percentage of minerals from hard fibers compared to the grinding process of a centrifugal juicer.
Being quite skeptical of such claims, I have searched for solid comparison studies. It’s an interesting subject because even though both juicers yield the same amount of juice, if what is pouring out of the spigot is higher in nutrition and enzymes, then it might be worth paying more for a masticating machine. Some laboratory research is backing the masticating claims. There may be a greater concentration in nutrients, including minerals. Plus, unlike the centrifugal juicers, the masticating type can do more than juice; it makes raw nut butters, baby food, frozen smoothies, and soup purees.
So… Which one should I buy?
The number-one question people ask when they are deciding which juicer to buy is: How easy is it to clean? Even the best juicers are not easy to clean and will take a time commitment. But from cutting to cleaning, some are definitely faster then others. And here’s the thing, if it takes forever to juice and clean, you are less likely to keep juicing past a week of purchasing your shinny new juicer. After 25 years of juicing, I have come to a simple conclusion:
“The best juicer is the one you will actually use!”
Masticating juicers take about twice as long to use, and they are harder and messier to use too. When I first started juicing I had a very expensive masticating juicer and a cheap, little centrifugal juicer. And guess what? The masticating juicer ended up in the back of my cupboard while the centrifugal juicer sat on my counter getting used daily. If it’s going to be a long, messy process, you will give up on it, and that’s not what I want.
The juicer that you are most likely to continue to use past a week of purchase will be the two Breville juicers I am going to recommend. They are the juicers I use on a daily basis. Because of the large hopper, strong motor and easy-to-clean design, I have found the centrifugal type Breville Juicers the fastest and easiest to use out of the many juicers I have tried over the last 25 years. As far as the quality juice, my health has been transformed from the fresh juices flowing from a centrifugal juicer, so I am a believer.