Ever since I wrote my first articles about juicing in Miami, people have come to me asking how to get started with their own at-home, fresh, organic juice routines. Their first questions are invariably about which juicer to buy.
There are lots of options out there. Some cost as little as $30. My first juicer was one of the cheapest on the market: the base model from Black and Decker. And it fried itself, smoking and spewing out charred vegetable juice, after about two months of use.
So today we're going to look at two models that are still reasonably priced, but much sturdier: The Juice Fountain Plus (~$150) from Breville, which is the juicer used in the hit documentary Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, which the company sent me for review, and the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer Express (~$100), one of the most popular juicers sold in department stores like Walmart and Target. (It was sold out at both retailers in North Miami when I went out to buy it.)
Does spending $50 more on a juicer mean you'll get more juice for your produce, saving you money in the long run? Is one of these machines (which are structurally similar) easier to use, easier to clean, or easier on the eyes?
To test these babies, I started with two plates of produce. I used veggies of different textures, to test how each juicer fared with leafy greens and more water-dense foods as well.
I used six large carrots, four stalks of celery, two stalks of bok choy, one medium-sized Golden Delicious apple, one half cucumber, a small piece of ginger, and a dinner plate full of spinach in each juicer. Most everything was organic.
I started with the Breville Juice Fountain Plus, which is far more attractive. Unlike the Jack LaLanne, this one comes with a handy juice catcher/pitcher, which is also a measuring cup. Another nice feature: it comes with its own scrub brush, specifically designed for cleaning the juicer blade. And the pulp collector is opaque, so you don't see all the messy stuff as you juice. And carrots can't stain through the plastic, as they do with transparent pulp collectors.
The juicer has two speeds (high and low) and comes with a guide that gives you a sense of what speed to use for what kind of vegetable or fruit. Cabbage, and I assume other leafy vegetables (spinach and kale were not listed in the chart - bummer), should be juiced at low speed. Same goes for really soft fruits like plums, raspberries, and tomatoes. Carrots, apples, and celery should be juiced at high speeds. So I adjusted the speed as I juiced, and alternated between less aqueous roughage like spinach and the leaves from the bok choy, and the really watery stuff like the celery, cucumber, and bok choy stalks.
The result was about 800 milliliters of fresh vegetable juice, which amounted to about two and a half brimming wine glasses of beautiful, fragrant juice.
Next it was time to put the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer Express to the same test. Since the juicer doesn't come with a juice catcher (really lame!), and the one from the Breville model doesn't fit the Power Juicer's spout, I had to catch the juice in an empty hummus container and then pour it into the Breville pitcher for comparison.
The juicer has only one speed, and by the sound of it, it's somewhere in the middle of the Juice Fountain's high and low. By comparison, it's harder to process produce through this juicer; it took a lot more push on my part to shove the apple through, for example. And when I put the spinach in, I barely saw any green juice come out.
Its yield was lower by more than 100 milliliters. This may not seem huge, but spending one-seventh more on organic produce every week can definitely add up.
As a single person, let's say it costs $5 per day to make a juice with the Breville model. That means it would cost $5.71 for that same juice with the Jack LaLanne. Over a month, you would spend about $21 more with the Jack Lalanne. So in two and a half months, the Breville model would pay for itself in produce costs. Not to mention that you're wasting precious, hard-grown vegetables.
Plus, the Breville juicer comes with a handy blade cleaning brush and a convenient juice catcher/pitcher. (It's really weird that the Jack LaLanne model lacks a container for catching the juice! I looked in the box several times, sure I must have overlooked one, but no! Even the Black and Decker model that spontaneously combusted on me came with a juice catcher!) Worse, the Jack LaLanne's spout is too low to flow into normal pint glasses, and too high to flow into tumblers. Major design flaw.
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After getting over the nausea that comes with slamming 1.5 liters of fresh vegetable juice (you can't save that stuff for later -- it quickly rancidifies in oxygen!), I'm ready to make my recommendation.
Given its dual speeds, more efficient juice production, and convenient accessories, the Breville Juice Fountain Plus is the clear winner between these two popular juicers. Yes, it's painful to fork over an additional $50 for a juice machine, but the Juice Fountain Plus quickly pays for itself in ease of use and savings on produce. Plus, it's just a sexier looking machine.
Cheers to fresh organic juice!