Alana wrote: Hi Karen, firstly I would like to thank you for your informative videos they are fantastic. I am in the process of getting my equipment to go raw and am wondering whether I could get your imput... I have been doing abit of research on juicers. I saw on one of your videos that you used a Champion juicer. I have read they work on the masticating system which to some degree still kills some nutrients that if going raw the cold pressed juicers e.g. Greenpower Hippocrates and the like are the best. Do you think there is much of a difference and whether you think the claims are true? I have the option of purchasing a 10 month old Champion Juicer and am not really sure whether to or not? Your imput would greatly be appreciated. Thanks Alana."
From Karen: Hi Alana, thank you for asking the question; it is one that comes up at all of my classes and yet this is the first time I have had the opportunity to respond on my blog.
What follows is an updated version of an article I wrote on this topic 2-3 years ago. Because I no longer run The Fresh Network and therefore no longer retail juicers as I did a few months ago, this may not be completely up-to-date (to all readers: if you have reviews, comments or amendments to make to my info, please go ahead and make them in the comments section, thanks!), but I feel confident that the general gist of it is, and so I hope it is of some use to you...
Choosing a juicer in today’s market-place can be a little confusing; partly because of the diversity of models now available and partly because of the hi-tech jargon that accompanies them. But don’t let that stop you from making what could potentially be one of the best investments you will ever make in your health – and ultimately your life.
As a dedicated and keen juicer-user myself I’m here to persuade you to seriously consider taking the plunge! It’s my intention to make buying and using a juicer super-easy for you, setting you up for a happy and juice-filled future. I promise you won’t regret it.
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Before you get started, all you really need to know is that there are two different basic types of juicer to choose from - electric and manual.
Manual juicers are relatively small machines, not unlike mincers to look at, that clamp on to a kitchen table or work surface and are turned by hand in a steady circular motion. No electricity required, just lots of muscle and plenty of patience! These juicers work by feeding the ingredients in through the top, where they move down the chute to reach and move into the ‘worm screw’ mechanism which pulls and feeds the ingredients through the machine, crushing them along the way, ultimately separating the juice from the fibre. Making juice this way is a slow and steady process, but a more ‘natural’ juice is the result, as the slow person-powered turning motion and electricity-free extraction method has minimal impact on the quality of the juice. All in all, these juicers are worth the time and perseverance if you have it, and are a cheaper and more environmentally sound option than electric models. They are also great machines for travelling with.
The cheapest manual juicer on the market, perfectly adequate and very cute, is the relatively new Easy Health juicer. Pleasing to the eye, the Easy Health is made from a modern-looking clear plastic complete with grass-green or other assorted coloured trimmings – very fresh looking! The original model had a suction pad for securing it to a work surface, but these have since been replaced by a clamp mechanism, so now screws to the worktop as per all the other manual juicers currently on the market. The other manual juicers available in the UK are made from metal, the Porkert being tin plated and the Miracle manual juicer being made from stainless steel. All of the manual juicers appear to be as good as each other in terms of quantity and quality of juice, but if you’re looking for lightness over quality of materials, then the Easy Health is your best bet and very reasonably priced at around £24.99. If it’s the latter that’s your main concern, it’s got to be the Miracle which comes in at just under £100, but will no doubt last a life time.
Easy to clean and nicely compact, overall manual juicers are very handy machines. The only thing you need to know about them other than what I’ve written here is that they’re next to no good at juicing juicy fruits. Apples, carrots and other hard fruits and vegetables work excellently, as do grasses, sprouts and leaves, but if you’re looking to juice things like oranges, grapes, melon or pineapple every morning, a manual juicer will not be suitable for you.
Electric juicers are a much more diverse bunch in all ways, and in an age where speed and convenience is everything, there are many more models to choose from.
Starting with the cheapest models priced from £25 upwards, we have what is known as the ‘centrifugal’ juicers. These are the juicers you probably will have seen in your local high street electrical store - the ones that are fairly small and compact in size and have a circular spinning disc in the middle that effectively grates the ingredients very finely and at a very high speed. Needless to say, because the ingredients are grated rather than crushed or squeezed, the resultant pulp (the moist fibre) that comes out is much more wet than is ideal, meaning that there’s still juice to be had, but as it’s come out with the fibre, you won’t get it. These juicers are perfect if you’re just beginning and your budget is low, but they’re limited in what they can do (no herbs, wheatgrass, leafy greens) and the wastage can be a little heartbreaking. They also burn out quite easily – I speak from experience!
The next serious step up is to the £100+ range, where we find the ‘single auger’ juicers, namely the Samson and Matstone models. These juicers have a central ‘worm screw’ that grinds and crushes food as it comes down the chute, in an identical fashion to the manual juicers. As per the manual juicers, the juice is crushed out into a jug below and the pulp is pushed out the end into a separate container. These juicers are great value for money and very versatile, effectively juicing every fruit, vegetable, herb and grass you could wish to juice, and with very little waste. Both models also double up as a ‘homogenising juicer’ meaning that by switching one ‘screen’ for another you can put nuts, seeds and frozen fruit through to make all manner of nut or seed pâtés, ice-cream and baby foods, all in the same machine. Though these juicers go by different names, they are in fact essentially the same juicer coming out of the same factory in Korea, the only difference being that the Samson comes with a manual and DVD, whereas the Matstone just has a supporting manual. The Matstone also comes in burgundy as well as the usual white, whereas the Samson only comes in white. Overall, these are brilliant juicers in every way, and also quick and easy to clean. Always a good thing! The only downside is having to chop ingredients up into fairly small pieces to be able to fit them in.
Update: There is now the rather aesthetically pleasing Oscar VitalMax available (left), which I have heard great things about and is apparently the Oscar upgrade - i.e. a lot more efficient. This retails between £219 and £249 in the UK.
Above £200 we have the ‘masticating’ juicer – a juicer that has a sturdy central shaft with sharp metal ‘teeth’ coming out of it, which literally bite in to the ingredients as they rain down upon it. These teeth rip into the food and break down the cell walls, resulting in juice extraction. In the UK the only model that falls in to this category is the Champion. This juicer, although not suitable for wheatgrass, is actually my personal favourite, mainly because it is very easy to feed into (it has an especially wide necked feeding chute), is quick to use and very easy to clean. The main downside is that the pulp does come out fairly moist, and even though I feed it back through to get more juice out, it’s with limited success. It’s still my favourite though, and I can use the pulp in other recipes, such as cakes and burgers. As per the single auger juicers above, the Champion is also a homogenising juicer and makes brilliant pâtés and super-thick ice-creams.
Finally, heading towards the £400 price bracket we have the ‘twin gear’ juicer, so-called because inside the main body of the machine there are two large sturdy ‘gears’ made from stainless steel, which look a little similar to large drill bits. As far as modern juicer technology goes, this is the best created to date and it comes in the form of the Green Star juicer and/or the Hippocrates juicer (also known as the Green Power Kempo). The twin gears work very tightly together to ensure that the maximum juice is extracted as the food gets crushed between them. This way every last drop of juice is extracted. This is clearly evident to the user as the pulp comes out very dry, with a texture not unlike cotton wool. A truly brilliant machine, the only downside to it being that of all the juicers it is the most fiddly to clean.
How do I pick the one that’s right for me?
The main things to consider when buying a juicer are:
• Your budget
• Your needs (Speed? Effort? Portability? Juice wheatgrass? Homogenise?)
• Aesthetics (Do you like the look of it? Will you look at it and want to use it?)
• Quality vs. Speed (Which is most important to you? The slowest ones produce the most juice.)
Taking into account everything I’ve outlined above, hopefully now you’re much clearer about what juicer will serve you best. But if you’re still feeling confused or torn between two choices, call The Fresh Network on 0845 833 7017 and you’ll be able to talk to someone who knows what they’re talking about and will be happy to help guide you to the best juicer for you.
Alternatively you can visit their web site at www.fresh-network.com.
How to get the most out of your juicer...
• Buy the best juicer you can afford – people usually tend to upgrade after a very short time, so why wait for the best and spend more than you have to overall?
• Keep it somewhere where it is easy to reach and use easily
• Start with a very basic juice such as 50% apple + 50% carrot, adding a little ginger if you enjoy it. Add and/or subtract a new ingredient every day to find out what flavours you most enjoy. At time of writing I am adding strawberries or pineapple to all my fruit juices, but last month it was coriander and lime!
• Experiment with both fruit and vegetable juices. Veggie juices are, as a rule, much better for you (mineral rich) and ideally should contain a fair amount of green foods such as kale, watercress and/or spinach – the darker the better. Fruit juices taste great and are brilliant for cleansing, but drink too much (especially citrus juice) and you could end up on a sugar high. Fruit juices are a definite no-no for those with candida.
• Apples and pears work well with most, if not all vegetable juices, and are a great way to sweeten veggie juices up if you find them too bitter at first. Carrots seem to work well with most fruit juices.
• Watermelon juice – pure and unadulterated - is gorgeously refreshing in the summer and if drunk first thing in the morning on an empty stomach can make you feel as is your blood’s just been washed completely clean!
• Invest in a juicing book to give you more ideas and inspiration – the best one on the market is Natalie Savona’s ‘Big Book Juices and Smoothies’
• Have all your juicing ingredients to hand and stock up on juicing staples such as carrots and apples, lemon and ginger – buy in bulk from a local farmer or organic supplier if possible to save on shopping time and money
• Get in to a routine and make your juice at the same time each day. For many it works well first thing in the morning, for me I make it before my evening meal and savour it while preparing my main course – sometimes a great juice is enough to fill me up
• Get the whole family involved – it’s fun and rewarding and beats watching TV. Toddlers loves juicing even at 2½ years old! Just watch those little fingers.
• Wash up the parts before you drink your juice. This way the juicer is much easier to clean and you’re juice will taste sweeter for it
• Love it and treat is a valuable member of your family!
• Never, ever look on juicing as a chore. If you do you haven’t found juices that you love or you need reminding that this is an important part of your long-term health policy!
• Make mine a pint!
Debunking the juicer jargon
Centrifugal juicer – The cheaper electric juicer with the spinning metal disc that produces juice by effectively grating the ingredients
Citrus juicer – simple manually operated juicers that vary from the basic flat glass ‘push and twist’ household model you’ll already be familiar with through to tall chrome gadgets that, in my humble opinion, really are not worth all the fuss! The basic glass model costing under £5 is more than sufficient for me and much less hassle and washing up.
Masticating juicer – The Champion is the masticating juicer, it has ‘teeth’ that bite and tear into the food extracting the juice by ripping into the cell walls
Plate / Screen – The more expensive electric juicers come with at least two plates / screens. One is called the ‘juicing screen’, has holes in and is used for juicing; the other is called a ‘blank’ and has no holes at all. The latter is used for homogenising and creating the pâtés, ice-creams etc.
Plunger – Plastic or wooden stick-like tool used to push down the juicing ingredients into the juicer
Twin gears – the mechanism used within the Green Life juicer to crush the ingredients and extract juice
Worm screw – the central shaft that pushes and winds food through the ‘single auger’ juicers
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