If you’re like a lot of other folks these days, you’ve been hearing a lot about the many benefits of juicing.  If you’ve been thinking that juicing might be a good way for you to get more fruit and veggie goodness into your diet, you might be wondering how to find the best juicer.  There are so many out there that it can be hard to separate fact from hype.  A little knowledge about the different types of juicers can help you decide which one is right for you.

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The first thing to note is that there’s a difference between machines that make juice and those that make whole-food smoothies.  Juicers, as the name implies, separate the liquid in fruits and vegetables from the solids.  Machines that make whole-food smoothies are more like blenders capable of turning whole fruits and vegetables into a drinkable liquid.  While there are any number of machines designed specifically for making smoothies, a good quality “regular” blender that’s good at making frozen drinks can probably accomplish the same goal for considerably less money.

There are two types of general-purpose juicers:  centrifugal and masticating.  Centrifugal models first chop produce into a pulp and then spin that pulp at speeds high enough to separate the liquid from the solid.  The juice is sent to a reservoir, while the pulp is left behind.  Centrifugal juicers are less expensive than masticating models (we’ll talk about them below), but do produce less juice.  The spinning process can also heat the juice up a bit.

The other type of juicer is the masticating juicer.  Masticating juicers get their name from the fact that they replicate the chewing process, crushing and pressing produce to extract the juice.  Again, juice is sent to a reservoir, and the pulp is left behind.  As mentioned above, they do produce more juice than centrifugal models, but do cost more and tend to take longer to produce juice.

In addition to centrifugal and masticating juicers, which work with nearly all fruits and vegetables, there are juicers designed specifically for citrus fruits and juicers meant for wheatgrass (and some of the softest fruits).

When comparing models, one feature to consider is the intake chute, or opening into which you load your fruits and veggies.  A smaller intake chute means you’ll have to spend a little more time cutting your produce into pieces small enough to go in.

Capacity is the next thing to take into consideration.  There are three areas to look at here.  The first is how much you can put into the machine at once.  If you want to make multiple servings of juice at once without reloading multiple times, make sure to look for a model with an appropriate capacity to meet your needs.  The second capacity issue relates to how much juice can be produced at once, or how big the juice reservoir is.  Again, make sure you get a model that can make as much juice as you want without having to stop and empty a full reservoir into a pitcher multiple times during the process.  Lastly, make sure you know how much pulp your juicer can hold before that receptacle needs emptying.  With some models, all three capacities are pretty equal, allowing you to load the chute and empty juice and pulp just once; others aren’t so equal, so be sure you know any potential model’s limits.

The last thing to understand about a juicer is the motor.  Generally speaking, a more powerful motor will accommodate a larger quantity and variety of produce, separate the juice from the pulp quicker, and give you more juice per piece of produce.  More powerful motors are usually noisier and more expensive than less powerful ones, but tend to be more durable in addition to being more versatile and more efficient.  You can also find models that allow you to choose different settings for different ingredients.

While juicing can’t be considered a true replacement for eating whole fruits and vegetables, it’s definitely a great way to get more of the extra nutrition we all need without the spending extra money on store-bought juices that often come with tons of artificial ingredients.

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