Juicers and Juicing FAQs

The Real Food Living FAQ and reprints are provided as information only. The comments contained in the FAQ are the opinions of our readers. Before making any radical changes in your diet, please talk with your personal health care provider.

1. What do I need to know when deciding which juicer to buy?

A. When considering buying a juicer there are several things that need to be considered:

Ease - this is *really* important. The easier a juicer is to use and clean the more it will get used. No other criteria will matter if you don’t use the juicer

Yield - the amount of juice extracted from the fruit or vegetable. This can vary tremendously from machine to machine. It also matters whether you are looking for a totally pulp free juice. The machines with a high yield are generally those offering pulp free juice.

  1. Type - centrifugal (Omega, Acme); masticating (Champion, Green Power) and Hydraulic Press juicers (generally unavailable to the public as the main juicer in this category is the Norwalk and it retails for around $2,000!!!). Points to ponder: centrifugal juicers introduce oxygen into the juice, creating oxidation. Oxidation degrades nutrients not immediately but over time. SO, juice made by oxidating machines should be drunk as soon as it’s made. A centrifugal juicer chops the fruits or vegetables, then spins it in a plastic or stainless steel basket at a high speed separating the juice from the pulp. It is one of the easier types of juicers to clean. The L’Equip and the Juiceman are juicers of this type. Masticating juicers product a higher quality juice because they don’t produce as much oxidation. It’s very important that heat not be generated during the masticating process. Heat comes with speed – the faster the machine, the more heat will be generated. Heat will destroy nutrients on contact.
  2. Juice quality - different machines produce different juices (more/less pulp).
  3. Reliability - good juicers are built to last many years and be used constantly throughout their lifetime. A good juicer will usually have a 5-10 year warranty.
  4. Power - a powerful motor will allow you to juice harder produce quicker without straining the motor. Power is measured by watts and not RPMs. RPM’s measure the number of rotations per minute. The higher the RPM, the faster the nutrient form the produce is destroyed by oxidation. A motor rating of 450 watts or greater is recommended. Omega: 500 watts, 3600 RPM. Acme: 550 watts, 3600 RPM. Champion: 650 watts, 1725 RPM.
  5. Replacement parts - make sure the company manufacturing the juicer is a one with a good reputation and has replacement parts available and a service department should the need ever arise. Some times it can take weeks to get a new part and once you start juicing every day even a week is too long to go without juice.
  6. Multiple Functions - You need to consider if you want it to perform other functions.
    For example, the Green Power has a Pasta attachment among others. The Champion has a grain mill attachment. Are you going to juice every day or just occasionally? Do you want to be able to make nut butters? The Champion, Green Life and Green Power will do that for you.

2. What juicer do you have? Why do you like it?

A. Here are a variety of responses from WFD readers:

” I tried the Acme but found it difficult to clean and unable to handle large quantities of juicing at one time. The other thing that I try to look for in my kitchen tools is the ability to be fully utilized and help me in as many ways as possible. The Acme was *just* a juicer. The Champion is a juicer, grater, and mill (with extra attachment). For my money I got far more machine for my money with the Champion.” ”

” An Acme juicer will do in a pinch, but a Champion gets more vitamins out of the carrots. I run the pulp through again at the end, too. My only complaint is the hour it takes to make a gallon for my family, who all like it. ”

” I use a Vita-Mix ONLY as a blender and not as a juicer. I bought it about seven years ago and think they are overrated. It’s just a four hundred dollar blender, and certainly can’t juice carrots! Every recipe I’ve tried from their cookbook that came with the Vita-Mix has been a disappointment. (Although they claim it can juice, it takes all day and feels like you’re drinking baby food because all the pulp is left in. Gross!) I use a Champion Juicer for my carrots. They do sell a $2,000.00 juicer which gets many more vitamins out of the carrots than even the Champion, but for the reasonable cost people still say the Champion is best for average families. It sure is a workhorse – I can barely lift it early in the morning! Even though I use a Champion, I still like to strain it three times after I’m done. I don’t like to feel pulp, even residue. ”

” I *love* the Champion! It is a versatile machine (making nut butters, fruit ice-cream etc.) and very easy to use. It can be used to continually juice – i.e. it is not bound by amount of juice, you just juice till you have enough. Some of the pulp from the veg/fruit is left in the juice – giving you fiber. Very easy to clean and assemble. You can buy a grain mill attachment for about $100. The basic machine costs generally a little over $200. ”

” The Omega offers a wonderful warranty and the juice is almost totally pulp free.
If I had more space and more money (!) I would juice more! ”

” I currently have a Champion and I like the ease of use, the quality and taste of the juice and the fact that I can make nut butters very easily and quickly with it. I think in the near future I may get L’Equip as it is smaller, more attractive and easier to use and clean. ”

3. I don’t know about buying all this produce! It is very, very expensive where we live to buy fresh fruits and veggies. How do you afford it?

A. It is ‘expensive’ to juice, yet how ‘expensive’ is your health? The trade off is that you spend your money on good things such as fruit & vegetables instead of pre-packaged, frozen, dehydrated, processed food like substances! You also are more satisfied with a glass of juice than you ever would be with a bowl of processed oats and milk.

I personally don’t always buy organic, especially if it is expensive or currently unavailable. One thing I have learned is that the pesticides, etc. stay in the pulp, they are not in the juice, so that makes me feel better when I have to juice fruits and vegetables that are not organic. If you buy nonorganic produce, be sure to wash it in a good biodegradable soap and brush well to get off all the surface pesticides, then rinse thoroughly. If juicing is a priority, you could just cut down on other areas of food shopping in order to make the juicing more affordable for your family. If the fruits or vegetables are organic, you can save the pulp, say from apples, carrots, etc. and use them in other foods, thereby making your dollar stretch even further.

4. Are there “instant” mixes that are healthy alternatives?

A. One alternative some might want to consider is Just Carrots, a crystalline carrot powder made by the company that makes Barley Green. The fiber is removed, and the juice crystallized in a residue-free, easily-mixed in water or juice. A half pound of carrots is in each 10 gram serving. All the nutrients of fresh carrots and antioxidants are retained, lots of beta carotene, C, calcium, iron, riboflavin and niacin. Comes in pre-measured packets, 400 g jars or 350 caplets. So if you can’t juice it, just mix it! This is ***expensive*** if you are on a budget, so I would suggest that you just save your $$$ and get a juicer in a few months instead of buying the powder, and in my opinion, you are better off juicing since fruits and veggies are real food and mixes are processed foods. fresher is always better!
But, if you are a way, travel a lot, or just want the convenience without the mess, this is a viable alternative.

5. How do I prepare fruit and vegetables for juicing? Must I peel and seed the produce first before juicing?

A. Some fruits and vegetables require peeling and seeding due to the toxicity of the skins or seeds. Some examples would be: peel oranges and grapefruits (leaving as much as the white part as you can), kiwi, papaya, and any that have been waxed. Seed apples, peaches, plums, and all other pitted fruits and vegetables. You can use stems and leaves.

Here is how to prepare the produce before juicing:

  1. apples: cut to fit the hopper (feeder) of the juicer. For the Champion I cut them into sixths. Apple seeds have arsenic in them, just a trace, but nevertheless not a good thing for the body. So I cut off the edge of the slice with the seeds.
  2. carrots: just top & tail them (cut the ends off).
  3. Most vegetables: wash if you are not sure whether they are organic or if you question what may be on the outer layers. No need to peel. Vegetables that are waxed (cucumbers) need to be peeled. Vegetables with ratty ends (celery, beets etc.) need to be trimmed before juicing.
  4. Fruits: bananas are too low in water content to put through a juicer. As I have a hard time finding organic fruit, I tend to peel the fruit – watermelon, cantaloupe, melons, etc. Pears, peaches, nectarines, strawberries etc. I just wash.
  5. Rhubarb: Stalks ONLY – the leaves are toxic!

6. I am a little embarrassed to admit this, but I am a “by the book” cook. I really need *more* guidelines that just “chop up the fruit and throw it in”. Are there any *real* recipes for creatively challenged cooks like me?

A. The rule of thumb I use is that I try to have about 60% carrots as a base, and then I add cucumbers, red peppers, some apple, celery (only when I have extra time, as you have to stop more often and clean the blades) always in different proportions each day. I’m up to juicing ten pounds of carrots each morning now, sometimes more.

7. What do I do with this pulp? Can I use it in muffins or breads? I just can’t throw it away!

A. If it is non-organic produce I would not use the pulp. I’d definitely try it in bread though-no more than about 1 C. pulp per loaf. It would also go great in meatloaf, or in the compost pile or to feed rabbits! Some of the juicing books have ideas for using the pulp.

8. I got my juicer yesterday and I am having fun with it, although it is a little harder to clean than I like. Is it hard to clean up after? (maybe I’m not doing it right?)

A. It will get easier as you get used to handling the machine. Are you putting a little oil (olive) around the metal spike that holds the grater before you assemble? Are you trying to scrub it clean or just rinsing? I just rinse all my pieces under warm water, making sure no residues are left on any pieces. The inside has become rather orange, but it doesn’t affect the performance or life of the machine at all. The best solution I have found to getting inside the machine is to use a ‘bottle brush’ – one of those wire thingies with the cylindrical shaped brush on the end (poor description I know – sorry). Running that through the main piece several times while holding under hot water seems to be the fastest, best way to clean this piece. Adding a little detergent to the brush also helps break down the butter. Rinse *VERY* well after using the detergent.

Some juicers are easier to clean than others. Some also come with clamps to hold a regular grocery plastic bag to catch the pulp. That helps to cut down on the clean up time. Another consideration if you plan to juice a lot is to consider the Green Power or Green Life juicers. You can juice an entire days worth of juice, refrigerate and not lose much of the quality, color or taste in the juice. A lot of serious juicers I know go this route. They are fairly expensive juicers however.

9. How do you make nut butters in it? How do you get the stuff out of the tube?

A. Instead of using the mesh screen you use the solid white screen called a “blank” in its place.
Place nuts in the hopper as you do with fruit. It doesn’t splatter like the fruit (I tie a plastic bag over the end with juicing and all the pulp falls in there) so you just need to place a bowl at the end of the machine. As you *gently* push down on the hopper the nuts will become ground. The faster you push, the crunchier the butter. The slower the smoother. You will need to add some oil with some nuts. I generally make cashew butter and add a little safflower oil as I go. How much depends on the nuts and how ‘sloppy’ you like the nut butter. I also like to add just a touch of salt to cashews. Cleaning is a little harder with nut butters. IMHO – if you continue to have the struggles with cleaning the juicer with nut butter, do the nut butter in your blender – it is much easier to clean.

10. The produce seems to never stay fresh in the fridge long enough for me to get through a couple of weeks of juicing. (I HATE throwing the produce away!)

A. I buy 40# apples/50# carrots at the beginning of the month and they keep pretty well through out the month. Admittedly, by the time the end of the month is here they are a little ‘old’ but very juicable. Could it be that you are having problems with the storage of the produce? (Your fridge is too hot or too cold?) Or maybe buying too much of the very perishable produce at one time? For the highly perishable produce like beets, spinach, kale etc. buy these on a weekly basis. I also use a liner in my produce bins, and I take all of my produce out of those grocery plastic bags.

If you have a root cellar (or are willing to make one) that would be a good option. If you can afford it, get a used refrigerator to keep in the basement or out of the way and keep all your produce in their at very cold temperature.

11. We love V-8 juice. Does anyone have a “copycat” recipe?

A. Try this! Tim LOVES this one!

Tomato-Veggie Juice
by Vickilynn Haycraft

Makes 16 ounces

  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 handful fresh spinach
  • 1 large organic carrot
  • 1/4 vidalia onion
  • 1 large rib celery
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 small shots Texas hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup filtered water

12. Does organic vs. inorganic produce make a difference?

A. YES!!! Not only are you not ingesting chemical residues, you are getting fresher produce (because there are no waxes or preservatives sprayed on them) and the vitamin content will be higher! I recently tried organic carrots (2) with an apple and found it to be very refreshing, delicious. I tried regular store carrots and Oh, yuck!

It does make a difference in that if it is organic, there is less preparation to juice them and you can use the pulp. If it is inorganic, the juice may taste more bitter, the preparation time is longer (washing, scrubbing, rinsing) and the health benefits will be less. Don’t let the fact that you cannot get or afford organic stop you from getting the benefits you get from juicing however.

13. My hands are yellow!!! My doctor said I was overdoing it on the juice, that the Vitamin A & beta-carotene were building to toxic levels and that I need to stop juicing until normal color returns. I usually only have one 16 oz glass of juice/day, made up of carrots, beets, apples.

A. Over juicing with caretenoids is not unusual. The yellow is your body’s signal that even that amount (16 oz of juice) may be too much for your body to currently process. Listen to these signals. God lovingly provided them for our well-being. Decrease the amount of yellow juiced veggies or perhaps a liver “help” such as milk thistle or dandelion would be useful at this juncture in life.

14. How far ahead can you juice? Is it okay to let it sit overnight? One or two days?

A. Nutrients in juices start breaking down almost immediately. Juices are best drunk immediately – or very shortly thereafter. Given that it takes but a few minutes to make juice there really isn’t a need to keep it overnight. If time is of the essence in the mornings I would suggest preparing as much as you can the night before: chopping fruit & veggies, setting up machine etc., so that all you would have to do in the morning would be juice and drink! It is generally recommended *not* to keep juices longer than about 8 hours.

15. What kinds of things do you like to put in your juice? I am drinking carrot juice, but I’d love ideas for things to add.

A. Your juice limitations are limited to your taste buds and your imagination!!!
Carrot and apple are probably the most common, easily liked bases for most juices. Then depending upon the seasons you can add a variety of things: celery, beets, ginger, kale, spinach, tomatoes, just about any fruit (not bananas though!), garlic, parsley etc.

16. If you were going to buy a juicing book, which one would you get?

A. There are some great juicing books on the market today that are loaded with recipes as well as what fruits and vegetables are good to combine and which ones are not. You could check your local book stores or some of the online books stores such as BarnesandNoble.com for more choices. They provide lots of good tips and information as well as recipes.

One book I recommend is Juicing for Life: A Guide to the Health Benefits of Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Juicing by Cherie Calbom & Maureen Keane. I also like The Juicing Book by Stephen Blauer, and The Joy of Juicing by Gary Null and Shelly Null.

17. If organic carrots are not available, is it too unhealthy to use the regular ones if they are well scrubbed?

A. Make sure you wash your produce well. Use a biodegradable soap using a vegetable brush to scrub the surfaces well. Rinse thoroughly. This will take care of much of the surface spray. If you can’t find organic carrots available at the supermarket check with the produce manager. Many times they will be able to special order them in for you.

18. Please give me the basic things I need to know for juicing!

  • Try and use organically grown produce as much as possible when juicing.
    If this is just not possible, you may want to consider peeling produce.
  • Prior to juicing, wash all produce, remove moldy, bruising or otherwise damaged portions of the fruits & vegetables.
  • Because the skins of oranges & grapefruits contain a toxic substance that should not be consumed in large quantities, and because these skins are somewhat bitter, it’s best to peel these fruits before juicing. Leave on the white pithy part of the peel though, it contains valuable bioflavonoids & vitamin C. Tropical fruits like kiwi & papaya should be peeled – these often come from other countries where icky sprays are still used. The skins of all other fruits & vegetables, including lemons & limes may be left on. If the produce has been waxed, it is recommended to remove the peel.
  • All pits – peach, plum, apricots etc., – must be removed before juicing. Seeds – lemon, lime, melon, grape etc., – may be placed in the juicer along with the fruit. However, because apple seeds contain small amounts of arsenic, apples seeds should not be juiced.
  • When using most produce, don’t hesitate to include stems & leaves along with the fruits & vegetables. However, carrot & rhubarb greens should be removed as they contain toxic substances.
  • Most fruits & vegetables will need to be chopped to fit the juicer. After you juice for a while you will know what size best fits your juicer.
  • Most fruits & vegetables have a high water content. This is what makes it possible to juice them. Those fruits & vegetables that contain little water – bananas & avocados etc., – cannot be placed in the juicer. When using them in your recipes, juice all other fruits first, transfer juice to blender and then use blender to mix in the dried produce.
  • It is best to juice on an empty stomach as the produce can start to ferment while waiting for the food to digest that you ate with the juice, causing all kinds of digestive upsets.
  • Juicing cannot take the place of eating good foods, it is a healthy addition to healthy eating.
  • A good juicer is worth it’s weight in gold.
  • Use organic whenever possible, if not, use a good biodegradable soap (wash, scrub, and rinse well).
  • Because juices are assimilated with very little effort on the part of your digestive system, their nutrients have a tremendous health-building impact.

© 1995-2013 by Vickilynn Haycraft and Real Food Living. All rights reserved. No portion of this review may be copied, stored or transmitted in any medium, for any reason without prior written permission of the author.

About Vickilynn Haycraft

A student of health and nutrition for 30 years, Vickilynn Haycraft has over 25 years of actual hands-on experience reviewing and personally using different tools of the homemaking vocation, focusing on the areas of health and nutrition. Vickilynn is a magazine columnist, product reviewer, cookbook author and now radio talk show host, as well as being full-time wife and mom to 5 children. Read Vickilynn's Product Reviews and Family Preparedness Articles at Examiner.com. She blogs at the Real Food Living Blog.