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Cheap Juicers Buying Guide

Before hitting the "buy" button, consider several important variables, including the type of juicer you need, ease of use and cleaning, amount of juice extracted from the fruits and vegetables, and the quality of the finished product. To that list, you may want to add durability, safety, and efficiency.

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Below we'll explain the various juicing methods and help you make an informed decision when purchasing an inexpensive juicer.

For the most enjoyment, remember that freshly made juices, and vegetable juices in particular because of their low acidity, are bound to oxidize (when apples or carrots turn brown they have oxidized), so try to consume the juice within 15 minutes of preparation.

Juicer Types.

What are you planning to juice? Fruits, vegetables, and greens have vastly different properties and require distinct juicing methods. A citrus juicer is all you need to squeeze lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit. When it comes to adding other fruits and vegetables to the mix, you need a different machine altogether. Juicing leafy greens, for example, is most efficient in a low-speed masticating juicer, such as a single auger juicer. For any other vegetable or fruit combination, a centrifugal ejection juicer would do the trick.

Citrus Juicers.

There's certainly no shortage of reasonably-priced citrus juicers. If you only prepare a small amount of juice every once in a while, a manual citrus press or reamer juicer should suit you just fine. You can find a variety of cheap manual juicers in almost any store, some priced as low as $2 (the Martha Stewart Everyday Citrus Reamer at Kmart, for example). However, squeezing a pitcher of OJ for the family every morning with a reamer is no picnic -- a juicer that does the job mechanically, such as the Black & Decker CJ525 CitrusMate Plus (starting at $20) or the Oster 3186 Juice-n-Serve Citrus Juicer (starting at $18), definitely makes the job easier.

Juice Extractors.

The choice of an inexpensive juice extractor also depends on the solids you want to turn into liquids. Both centrifugal juicers and centrifugal ejection juicers are useful for most fruits and vegetables. A centrifugal juicer, such as the Waring Pro JEX328 (starting at $49), uses a spinning motion to grind the fruit or vegetables into pulp and then push the juice out from the center of rotation into a filtering basket, through which the juice drains into a container; you'll probably have to empty the container every so often when making a lot of juice. Centrifugal ejection juicers, such as the Black & Decker JE2050 (starting at $34) and Omega O2 (starting at $99), follow the same general principle except that the pulp is automatically ejected into a separate container.

Masticating Juicers.

Masticating juicers work best on wheatgrass and other fibrous vegetables (think spinach and lettuce) and roots (think carrots). These juicers use a slow grinding-kneading motion to squeeze out the juice, which is more efficient than a centrifugal juicer for getting the most out of these foodstuffs. These juicers are also more expensive. Electric masticating juicers are high priced -- the Champion Juicer G5-PG710 (starting at $229), for example, is way beyond the Cheapism price range. One frugal solution is to opt for a manual wheatgrass juicer, such as the Lexen Healthy Juicer (starting at $43), which, like most common masticating juicer models, utilizes a single auger. Fruit and vegetables are pressed into the juicer's main body, or barrel, and the screw-like auger rotates and presses them towards and against a perforated disc or a strainer, sieving the juice and leaving the pulp. Other single auger juicers include the Lexen Electric Wheatgrass Juicer (starting at $145), Tribest Z-Star Manual Juicer (starting at $99), and L'Equip 308100 (starting at $212).

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Juicer Activation.

Citrus juicers can be activated in either of two ways: with a toggle or switch, or through a pressure mechanism that starts the motor when half a fruit is pushed face down on the cone. On/off switches are typically found on commercial juicers, like the Hamilton Beach 96700 (starting at $315), while the pressure-activated reamer is more common on home juicers, like the Waring Pro JEX328, Black & Decker JC525, Cuisinart CCJ-100 Citrus Pro Juicer (starting at $18), and Tribest CitriStar (starting at $40). Some models, such as the Waring Pro PCJ201 (starting at $84), are equipped with both an on/off toggle switch and a pressure-activated reamer. Although some budget citrus juicers reviews say the pressure mechanism is safer, one method doesn't produce better juice than the other, so the choice is a matter of personal preference.

Juice extractors likewise have two modes of activation. Electric juice extractors usually have an on/off switch; manual juicers are, obviously, manual, so you'll need to rely on muscle power for the juicing action. According to juicer reviews of the manual Lexen Healthy Juicer on Amazon, most leafy greens require little effort, while fibrous vegetables require more force and should first be cut into smaller pieces.

Fruit Size Compatibility.

Squeezing small limes and lemons with a cheap citrus juicer is not the same as squeezing large oranges and grapefruit. Some models, including the Black & Decker CJ525, the Kalorik FP-5609 (starting at $25), and the DeLonghi KS500 (starting at $19), come with two different-sized cones to fit the reamer.

Tube chute sizes vary in inexpensive juice extractors, so figure on doing some slicing and dicing to ensure the fruits and vegetables will fit. Both the Waring Pro JEX328 and the Hamilton Beach 67650H Big Mouth Pro Juice Extractor (starting at $49) come with a relatively large three-inch tube chute, but most cheap juicers, including the Lexen Healthy Juicer, have a smaller chute that requires smaller pieces. Other models with wide chutes include the higher-end Breville BJE 200XL (starting at $74) and Jack Lalanne Power Juicer 250 Watt (starting at $88).

Capacity and Size.

The point in buying a citrus juicer is having fresh juice, but that doesn't mean you want to make a separate glass of orange juice for each family member's breakfast. Some cheap juicers save you from that task by offering relatively large pitchers; the Black & Decker CJ525 features a 34-ounce pitcher that holds enough for the entire family and the pitcher on the Oster 3186 has a 27-ounce capacity. Most inexpensive citrus juicers don't take up much space in the cupboard or on the countertop (the footprint is typically smaller than one square foot) and weigh just a couple of pounds. Making storage even easier, the Black & Decker CJ525 has a slot around the base for the cord and it comes with a cover.

Juice extractors and masticating juicers are generally sold without a juice container; a glass or bowl is meant to fit under the spout to collect the juice. Centrifugal juicers are more complex in this regard, and different models offer different design solutions. Centrifugal ejection models usually come with two separate and detachable containers: one for the juice and one for the pulp. The centrifugal Waring JEX328 has a spout and a 32-ounce cup, as does the Black & Decker JE2050.

Juicer Design.

Regardless which type of juicer you settle on, it should feel like a durable appliance and not a toy. If at all possible, disassemble and reassemble the unit and test the ease and comfort of doing this. Make sure the parts fit together snugly. And because the end product is a sticky liquid with a natural tendency to find all the nooks and crannies, pick a juicer with as few slits, depressions, and hard-to-reach areas as possible. The Black & Decker CJ525 and JE2050, Waring Pro JEX328, Oster 3186 Juice-n-Serve, and Lexen Healthy Juicer all earn top marks from most juicer reviews by users for designs that prevent too much spillage on and around the unit when juicing.

Inexpensive Juicer Attachments.

One other option to consider is an attachment or accessories for an existing kitchen appliance. Here, the possibilities include the KitchenAid Citrus Juicer (starting at $24) or the Cuisinart SM-CJ Citrus-Juicer Attachment (starting at $37). While this approach means one less appliance in the kitchen, juicer reviews by consumers express mixed opinions about their value. Budget juicers reviews on Amazon of the KitchenAid juicer note that this vertical attachment can be messy and the strainer is too small to be of much use. The Cuisinart SM-CJ attachment, which is mounted atop a Cuisinart mixer, wins positive reviews on Chefscatalog.com for its ease of use and multiple juicing speeds.

by Maralyn Edid (Google+ Profile)

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