Juice extractors put squeeze on buyers

April 21, 1993|By Isabel Forgang | Isabel Forgang,New York Daily News

It started in the middle of the night. Insomniacs turned on cable TV and discovered Jay Kordich creating salads in a glass and drinking his way to good health.

The electric juicer craze was born.

Mr. Kordich, 69, who claims the juices of fresh fruits and vegetables helped cure him of bladder cancer as a young man, preaches the joy of juicing with the zeal of a televangelist.

His infomercials for the Juiceman extractor began in mid-1991 and struck a responsive chord. Soon there was a host of machines competing with the Juiceman, and plenty of buyers for them all. Some 2 million extractors, priced from $30 to $300, sold last year, and manufacturers predict strong sales again in 1993.

It's hard to argue against the health benefits of fresh, vitamin-packed beverages that boast a higher nutrient value than either canned or frozen juices.

But does anyone really need an expensive gadget to harvest these nutrients?

Not if you merely want a glass or two of fresh-squeezed orange juice. In that case, all you need is a simple reamer -- either manual ($3 up) or electric ($11 to $25) -- that presses juice out of citrus fruit.

But if you fancy a carrot/parsley/parsnip cocktail or a glass of broccoli booster (broccoli and tomato), then you do need a juice extractor. But which one?

Most extractors work on the same basic principle. Cut-up fruits and vegetables are dropped down a feed tube to a whirling mesh basket. Blades at the bottom of the basket slice the produce into tiny pieces while centrifugal force wrings juice from the produce and sends it into an adjacent container. Some juicers retain the pulp in a well surrounding the blades; others eject it into an external bin.

What's the difference between a $30 extractor and one that goes for $300?

The more expensive models have stronger motors and can produce large quantities of juice more easily, explains Carol Gelles, author of "101 Ways to Juice It!" (HarperCollins. $12.50).

"In reality, most people are not going to juice more than a glass or two at a time," says Ms. Gelles. For that type of work, she says, the smaller, less-expensive machines are up to the task.

"Juice tastes best when it's freshly juiced," notes this nutritionist. "You lose that when you make it several hours in advance. It also settles after a while, so you end up with a water level. And if you use fruits, such as apples or pears, that oxidize, the juice will turn brownish if it stands for more than 15 minutes."

Her conclusions are seconded by Eating Well and Consumer Reports magazines, both of which compared juicers and gave the highest ratings to less-expensive models.

Eating Well, in a test of five models that included the top-of-the-line Acme (about $250), preferred the $50 Hamilton Beach for ease of use and flavor.

Consumer Reports studied 14 juice extractors, including Mr. Kordich's Juiceman II ($290), and cited the $80 Panasonic and the $60 Sanyo as best buys.

Other factors to consider: Do the blades stop spinning immediately when you stop the machine? Can you remove the top of the juicer while the motor is running?

Finally, consider the size. Will the machine fit on your counter? "If not, you may be better off with a smaller juicer such as the Singer, which measures 8 1/2 by 6 1/2 inches, rather than a larger, more powerful one that's kept in a cabinet and never used," says Ms. Gelles.

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