For me, fall is the perfect season for juicing. Summer fruits linger in the stores—a little of the sad side, phasing out slowly—and the year's crop of apples and pears is in full swing. It's not cold enough to crave soups just yet, and with the heat on full blast, I'm enjoying the last few weeks of cool, refreshing treats. So juice it is.
I picked up my Jack La Lanne Power Juicer Express ($99 at powerjuicer.com) a few months ago, and while I only broke into it after summer berries started disappearing, I've found myself eyeing fruits and vegetables a little differently in the store since christening it. That's the point, nutritionally speaking, and it works. But how does the juicer stack up, exactly?
If you've seen the infomercials, you'll know you're able to push entire fruits—grapes on stems, pineapples with their rind, apples un-cored—through the machine. If you've ever tried an as-seen-on-TV product, you probably also know that TV doesn't give the whole truth. It's true that you can push whole fruits through—even un-skinned oranges and grapefruits—if the pits aren't too big (like with a mango), but the flavor of your juice will be affected by the pith and skins that are processed along with the pulp. In short, if you don't want to eat it, don't juice it.*
With a centrifugal motor—which is surprisingly quiet compared to similar products on the market—the Power Juicer yields frothy juices across the board, which tends to elicit love-it-or-hate-it responses. There's just one blade, surrounded by a fine metal mesh that seems impossible to clean thoroughly, and it's set so that no pulp is allowed through into the juice. The froth is fun (especially with apple juice) but I love pulp in my OJ. And getting back to the cleaning—I'll say that the pulp-collecting receptacle is oddly shaped for these purposes. Stick it in the dishwasher.
Reviews elsewhere express dissatisfaction with the motor, saying it's prone to burning out. I've put my juicer through a good bit of work in the last few weeks, and nothing's stopping it yet. I'm also impressed at how much juice the thing extracts—marketing claims say it's 30 percent more effective than other juicers, and while I wasn't equipped to do side-by-side comparisons, I'm convinced. The fruit-loading chute is wide and fits large chunks of fruits (halved apples, whole tangerines, etc.) and there's little to no arm strength required to get them through the machine's system. It's almost too easy and too effective at times: You'll fill a glass much quicker than expected, and the over-run container on the inside holds barely anything before juice spills out the sides of the machine. With the pour spout too low to accommodate taller glasses, this is a problem more often than not.
Jack Lalanne—you're onto something. The juicer's a good product, and affordable enough for its quality. Serious Eaters: What are your favorite juice combos? And more importantly, what do you do with all that extra pulp?
* Note: The only case in which this really bothers me is with oranges, which you'd have to supreme to get a pure flavor from—otherwise, I'm happy to ingest extra nutrition or sacrifice my laziness.