Juicing has become quite a popular pastime recently. It has certainly become a mainstay in our vegan lifestyle. I prepare fresh juice most every day. The only time I don’t juice is when I am traveling in such a way that bring some sort of juicer is not practical. Even in those instances, however, I will find the nearest Whole Foods and purchase ready to go juices. Most Whole Foods sell their own freshly produced juices, along with other good brands, such as Suja or Evolution.
So, you have decided that juicing might be for you? Where to start…..last July, when we decided to try a 15 day juice fast, our only experience had been with the Jack Lalanne centrifugal juicer, purchased on a whim for about $80 years ago. Needless to say, it did not get much use, and eventually ended up as a garage sale bargain.
This time, I spent several days researching juicers. All kinds, from cheap centrifugal units to masticating to slow juicers to the Rolls Royce of home Juicers, the Norwalk. In general, the cheapest juicers are the centrifugal models, that rely on high speed centrifugal action to separate juice from pulp and skin. There are pros and cons to these. On the one hand, they are inexpensive, and quite fast at juicing, depending on what you are juicing. On the negative side, all of that speed generates heat, which is the enemy of fresh juice. Heat can degrade the nutritional quality of the juice more quickly. Additionally, centrifugal juicers can have problems juicing dark leafy green vegetables, such as kale or spinach, and these should be a main ingredient for anyone serious about juicing. Third, centrifugal juicers can still leave a fair amount of juice in the pulp, and there is also a fair amount of pulp in the juice.
Here is an example of a centrifugal juicer, the Breville JE98XL Juice Fountain, (149 on Amazon photo courtesy of Amazon.com)
Next, there are the masticating, or slow juicers. These generate far less friction and heat than their centrifugal cousins. The tradeoff is that these juicers are quite a bit slower, so the prep and cleanup time is a lot longer. There are two tupes – horizontally oriented and vertical. Price wise, decent ones start in the $200 – 300 rand, and can go well over $1,000 for a top of the line Angel model. These use either single or double auger grinding systems, gently and slowly gringing the produce pieces fed into the chute and pressing the pulp against a micromesh screen. The quality of the juice is better than the centrifugals, and the pulp is drier. Here are 2 examples of masticating juicers:
Kuvings NS 950 vertical silent juicer ($332 on Amazon.com – photo courtesy Amazon.com)
Super Anger 5500 twin gear juicer ($1,150 on Amazon.com – photo courtesy of Amazon.com)
Finally, the preferred method for juicing is the cold pressed method. This is actually a 2 step method. First, the produce is slowly and gently mashed into wet pulp. One the pulp is prepared, it is placed in juicing cloths similar to cheese cloth, and pthe juice is squeezed out under very high pressure. The juice is virtually free of any pulp, and the pulp wafers are practically dry. The Norwalk Juicer, currently at model 280, is the best money can buy. It combines the triturator, which grinds the produce into pulp, with the hydraulic press. These are very expensive – approaching $2,500 for the newest model, and well over $1,000 for a used unit. However, these machines are built to last generations, if used and cared for properly. Here is a picture of the latest model, the Norwalk 280:
What do I use? Well, I am using the cold pressed method, but I’m also pretty frugal. Although I’m serious about juicing, could afford a Norwalk 280 and don’t doubt the quality of their products, I came up with a method that provided virtually identical performance in the same amount of time, for a fraction of the cost. After much research, I decided on purchasing a used Champion Commercial Juicer and a manual hydraulic press, which essentially duplicates the 2 stage Norwalk process. Champion juicers have been around for 60 years. These macines are well built and heavy. They will take many years of daily use. They are also inexpensive purchased used. You can buy a complete unit with all juicing attachments for $100 – 200 on Ebay, depending on condition. I paid $100 for mine, then purchased a brand new cutting blade, an additional funnel for the top of the hopper chute and a homogenizing attachment for another $100 or so. I watch Ebay frequently for manual hydraulic juice presses. These are available from various entrepreneurial sellers for $200 – 400. The Welles Press is probably the best known one. I was lucky enough to find a vintage Norwalk manual hydraulic press from the 1950’s on Ebay for $150. I spent another $100 to have the jack rebuilt, and it is good as new, works like a charm. So, my total investment so far is $450 for the Champion, additional parts, the Norwalk press and rebuild, and another $50 for spare juicing cloths, for a total of $500. I know, that is still a fair investment for a lot of folks. However, if you are serious about juicing, you will not get better quality juice from any alternative at that price point. Here are pictures of my rigs. The first picture os the Champion juicer set up with the homogenizing unit. The second picture is of the Norwalk manual hydraulic press.
Whatever, you decide on, juicing is an important long term component of any healthy nutrition plan…juice on!!!