When it comes to juicing there are certain ‘must have’ items that my husband and I can’t live without. Steve has been juicing for at least the last ten years. Together we’ve been through quite a few juicers and have FINALLY settled on the juicer. Not just any juicer. THE juicer. I’ll get to that more in a moment. Often times there’s confusion around blending vs. juicing. While we absolutely love our Blendtec, smoothies are completely different than juice. My favorite juice recipes include my Cool Watermelon Refresher, Sippable Orange Sunshine, The Green Apple Energizer, The Orange/Apple Wake-Me-Up, and my Fresh Pineapple Surprise.
To have a successful experience juicing, it’s important to be equipped with the right tools. It’s best to start in a clean kitchen. Be sure you have enough time for prep, juicing, and clean-up. While not everyone has the luxury of their own garden, I recommend buying your produce (organic if possible) locally from farmer’s markets during the warm summer months. If you are fortunate enough to have a garden, there’s nothing better than home grown leafy greens and veggies. You’ll start by washing your vegetables. We like to use a large Rubbermaid bin that fits perfectly in the sink. Steve drilled a hole in each corner so that water can drain as you are washing your produce. Using the wash basin is not only great for harvesting your vegetables, it’s also nice because it avoids the germs that can be found in your sink (especially a ceramic sink).
Once you’ve juiced your fruits and vegetables, you’ll be ready to prep the juice for storage. To achieve a smooth juice we like to strain the liquid using a round footed stainless steel strainer. We strain the juice in to a large stainless steel mixing bowl. You’ll want to add a few ice cubes to your bowl so that the juice can start cooling down immediately. Stir your juice and ice cubes together to make sure it’s all mixed together evenly.
Store your juice in a glass container with an airtight lid. We use Ball wide-mouth mason jars and find that they work great. Fill the container as full as possible to minimize any air in the jar before it’s sealed up. If you have a FoodSaver system that has an accessory port on it, you can buy this nifty attachment, the FoodSaver Jar Sealer, that sucks the air out of any wide mouth mason jar and attaches the lid to the jar with an airtight seal. It uses the standard metal mason jar canning lids, and these lids can be reused many times! I’ve been really happy with this system and suspect that it adds at least one extra day to how long the juice will store for.
For juice citrus fruits we absolutely love our Jupiter Commercial Juice Press. In fact, last year it was what Steve had wanted for Christmas. I thought he was kind of crazy. Then when we juiced our first citrus we both immediately knew it was one of the best investments we’ve made. It’s perfect for grapefruits, oranges, lemons and limes. We go through a LOT of lemons and limes (mostly for our Lemonade Cleanse drink), so we use the juice press almost daily. If you are adding lemon or lime juice to your fruit/vegetable juice you can use this press for quick & easy juice. Of course, any regular citrus juicer will work just fine too!
Lastly, before we get to the most important essential, I’ll fill you in on the perfect storage for your fruits and veggies. We love the Hefty Jumbo OneZip Slider Bags. They are perfect for your leafy greens, cilantro, parsley, apples, beets, bell peppers, and more. Another helpful tip is once you’ve brought home your produce, immediately transfer them in to the bags before putting them in the fridge. For your cilantro and parsley you’ll want to take the twist tie off. It’ll last longer that way!
So here’s the MOST important question. What’s a good juicer to buy?
[Insert guest post from the expert, my husband!]
After cramming just about every domestic fruit and vegetable imaginable through over a dozen different juicers, one juicer in particular has clearly emerged as a favorite around our household! The Omega NC800 .
It was released in the US about two years ago and it comes from a rich lineage of juicers made by Omega, one of the most respected companies in the industry. In fact, as far as I know, Omega is the only company to regularly offer 15 year warranties on their juicers (the industry standard is typically only 1-3 years).
It’s super versatile and in addition to making juice, it can also be used to make nut butters, pasta, banana “ice cream” and more. Obviously most people are buying it for its juice making capability, but those added functions really do come in handy from time to time (especially if you don’t have a powerful blender).
When it comes to juicing, it’s one of the most efficient juicers that I’ve come across, meaning that it gets more juice out of whatever you put into it. Most of the High-RPM style juicers out there (the really loud ones that have a disc that spins thousands of times per minute) are pretty terrible at juicing leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard collard greens, cilantro, and parsley because these lightweight leafy greens are usually ejected well before the juicer has a chance to really extract the juice out of them. A straight up shame considering that leafy greens are probably THE best thing to juice. Not a problem with the Omega NC800 though! It moves at a turtles pace (80 RPM) which is exactly what you want when dealing with leafy greens. The Omega luxuriously massages just about every last drop out of the greens, spitting out nice, dry pulp when it’s done. Based on what we’ve observed, the Omega will get about 8 (yes eight!) times more juice out of leafy greens than a typical high RPM juicer will. So you’d have to buy about 8 times as many leafy greens to juice when using a high RPM juicer. No thanks!
Another awesome and very important benefit to the NC800’s low 80 RPM speed is the fact that it seems to preserve the nutrients in the juice better than a high RPM juicer does. High RPM (high speed) often translates to higher heat, and heat is juice’s enemy. Not to mention that juice in a High RPM machine is going to be exposed to more oxygen than juice in a low RPM machine, and more oxygen equals more oxidation (think rust). Not something that you want for your liquid gold!
Are there any disadvantages to low RPM juicing? Alas, there are always going to be tradeoffs. Juicing IS going to be slower when using a low RPM machine. What might take 10 minutes to juice using a high RPM juicer could take you about 30 minutes using a low RPM juicer. That extra 20 minutes buys you higher quality juice, more juice (due to better efficiency), and a juice that stores about twice as long in the fridge (due to the lower heat and reduced exposure to air). Well worth the extra investment of time if you ask me!
Some people are going to be put off by the NC800’s price tag (about $295 on Amazon.com at the time of this writing), but this thing is a TREMENDOUS investment in your health (as long as you use it!). Some people drop $300 in a single month on going out to eat, something that’s not exactly an investment in your health. It’s all about priorities, and I can think of very few priorities more important than health (but don’t get me wrong, I do love treating myself to a meal out on the town now on then).
What about buying a cheaper ($80’ish) juicer from a local store to get started? I can see why someone would be hesitant to drop $295 on a juicer when they aren’t even sure if they’ll like juicing. Instead of buying a cheaper juicer, I’d suggest asking around to see if any of your friends or family members have a juicer that you could borrow. If you do like juicing (and I’m sure you will), you’ll likely soon want to upgrade to the NC800 and will probably be kicking yourself for spending $80 on an entry level juicer rather than applying that $80 toward the NC800. Just my line of thinking though.. take it from someone who’s gone through more than a dozen juicers.