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September/October 2012

Electric Juicers (Juice Extractors)

While citrus reamers tackle oranges and the like, juice extractors expand the options to almost any fruit or vegetable.

How We Tested

While citrus reamers tackle oranges and the like, juice extractors expand the options to almost any fruit or vegetable. These machines extract liquid in one of two ways: Masticating juicers use an auger that grinds the produce and presses it against a strainer; centrifugal juicers shred and spin the food on a serrated disk. Of the six models we tested (four centrifugal, two masticating), each style yielded about the same amount of juice from a measured quantity of produce, but centrifugal juicers, which operate at a higher rpm, tended to be louder.

Noise level aside, we discovered two downsides to the juices extracted from masticating models: They didn’t have as much flavor and they didn’t taste fresh as long. When produce is cut, it releases enzymes that oxidize some of the food’s flavor compounds, a process that degrades taste (and also causes darkening). But as a juicer continues to break down the produce, some of the enzymes also get broken down, rendering them inactive. The lower horsepower of the masticating machines doesn’t kill off these enzymes as efficiently as the higher spinning rate of the centrifugal machines, leading to juice that darkened and lost flavor when we let it sit overnight in the fridge. Conversely, juice from centrifugal machines was still bright and fresh-tasting after three days in the refrigerator. 

In both styles, some models made us work harder than others. Juicers with narrow (2-inch-wide) tubes had us dicing apples into bite-size morsels and cutting pineapples into skinny strips, and some required that we tediously feed the food through the chute one piece at a time. One model had a tiny receptacle for catching pulp, forcing us to constantly stop juicing to empty it. Several juicers lurched and scooted on the counter. Some had six or seven complicated parts or tight crevices that trapped food, making the models harder to assemble and harder to clean—though most models came with a plastic brush to help dislodge stray shreds from the strainers.

Only one model excelled across the board. It breezed through pineapples, oranges, apples, and kale. It was not overly loud, even though it used centrifugal technology; it was easy to assemble and clean—especially since most of its parts are top-rack dishwasher-safe; and best of all, at $149.99, it was reasonably priced. 

Methodology

EASE OF USE: To measure ease of use, we evaluated whether the machine created a mess, whether it has a wide feed tube to reduce precutting foods, its noise output, and how difficult it is to remove and dispose of pulp.

EASE OF CLEANUP: We made beet juice in each machine, then washed all juicer parts with warm soapy water and evaluated how easily this was accomplished and whether the machine trapped grunge or pulp that could not be easily cleaned.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

$33.31*

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.