Juicing part 1: To juice or not to juice

Being into our healthy eating, we decided we needed a juicer in our lives.


Because juicing, and consuming fresh fruit and vegetables in a liquid format, is an incredibly healthy way of taking in vitamins and
minerals – and tasty, too! One of our favourite juices so far is carrot, strawberry and basil – beautiful!

Make delicious and healthy juices
Make delicious and healthy juices

But let’s go back a step – the key to juicing is to purchase the right juicer. So which juicer is right for you? Well, if you aren’t going to be
juicing frequently, are on a tight budget, you aren’t so bothered about the amount of enzymes and vitamins your juice will contain, and are happy to consume the juice immediately after making, then a bog standard centrifugal juicer will do the job.

These work by spinning at high speed (centrifugal force) and chopping the food produce with a sharp blade. There are plenty available at low cost (£30-£60) from Amazon, Argos, eBay etc. The main problem with these type of juicers is in both the quality and quantity of the juice produced. You won’t get the maximum amount of juice available from your produce and it will be quite frothy. You’ll struggle to get any juice from leaves. The mechanism also results in a lot of heat produced that effectively destroys all those enzymes and nutrients you were hoping to extract! The juice also needs to be drank more or less immediately else it will go off. They are also loud in operation.

A much better option is a cold press juicer, or masticating juicer.

There are numerous debates/arguments over which juicer is technically a cold press or masticating juicer – one article insisted that you couldn’t buy a true cold press juicer for less than £3000 and that all the other so called cold press juicers are really masticating juicers – but basically the technology we are talking about doesn’t use high speed and centrifugal forces and a blade to chop the fruit and vegetables like the cheaper variant, but rather turns the produce slowly and presses it into an auger to squeeze and extract the juice and nutrients within more efficiently.

The cons? They can be expensive – when we first looked, the cheapest
were retailing around £130 (but good news – there’s a great one for only £50 – more on that later) but after reading the Amazon reviews we were a bit put off from all the problems people were experiencing with these low end models. Even the ones around £280 didn’t sound ideal.You also need to chop the fruit and vegetables into much smaller chunks than you would in the centrifugal juicer; this can be very time consuming. There are a (very) limited amount of models available where you don’t have to chop your food so much but these are few and far between, and normally very expensive.

However, good news – we found the perfect model! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The pros of a slow press/masticating juicer are that you extract more juice, especially from those healthy green leaves, and there’s less ‘froth’. Because the juicer is operating at a lower speed then the operating temperature is reduced (warning: check operation times before purchasing, some can only run for 10 mins before getting hot) and your nutrients and vitamins aren’t destroyed. The resulting juice will also last for 2-3 days, if kept in the fridge.

So we decided that this was the type of juicer for us. The problem was in choosing the right one. We wanted something that was a convenient size, easy to clean (a key point – these juicers can be pretty hard work to disassemble and unblock) and of a decent quality to
be able to use regularly and not overheat and to have a decent lifetime.

It seemed all the juicers in the £130 – £280 price range we’d been looking at suffered in some way or another that would irritate us, but we really didn’t want to spend £300+ on something that we didn’t know or not at this stage whether we’d use or not.

That’s when we found the VonShef 150W Slow Juicer selling for only £55 from Amazon (plus a hefty £12 delivery charge, but still significantly cheaper than the competition)!

We assumed it would be terrible.

We checked the reviews. Yes, there were a few bad ones – but there always are; with user reviews it’s always a case of trying to work out whether the problems the user reports are genuinely problems, specifically for yourself rather than the individual reporting it. For example, some users complain about the juicers being difficult to clean. However, all juicers are difficult, to some extent, to clean. Difficult is a relative term. Reading the reviews for this juicer we could see that plenty of reviewers said it was easy to clean and we were able to dismiss most of the negative reviews.

For £50, we decided to give it a try. If it didn’t deliver, well, we would learn a lesson, but it was better than being disappointed with a £300 model. Being our first juicer, it would give us a feel for them and help us making a better and informed decision on purchasing a higher quality one that met our specific needs in the future.

We ordered the juicer and it arrived only a few days later. It looked good. Plastics were reasonably quality, if not amazing.

We started making juice.

It wasn’t bad!

Especially with fruits – a little bit of froth but the waste product was reasonably dry, and it seemed to be extracting juice well.

However, carrots were what we really wanted to juice. Would it cope?

Yes. Just about. The main problem was that the carrot pieces would regularly clog up the juicer, particularly in the recess underneath the auger. Appreciating that it was the cheapest ‘slow press’ juicer on the market, we accepted this, and kept cleaning out as necessary.

Just to note that you need a lot of carrots to make a reasonable amount of juice. To make about 1 litre, you need about 3 to 4kg of carrot – that’s a lot of carrots to chop into small pieces!

We carried on using the juicer, on an almost daily basis, for the next two weeks. We had great fun experimenting with wierd and
wonderful combinations and make tasty juices. The device struggled with leaves, but we expected that. We kept unclogging the device, getting a little frustrated, but battling on, and generally pretty happy with it.

Then things went wrong.

We noticed it was getting pretty hot. The constant clogging was causing a strain on the motor. After just over a week, we noticed a crackling electrical sound and saw a puff of smoke. We immediately turned the device off, feeling it was rather warm, and thinking it had
overheated. We cleaned it and tried again the next day and it seemed okay for a few days. However, we noticed again that it was getting pretty hot, which it’s not supposed to. So we let it cool off again.

However, it started to regularly overheat – very quickly – and we heard the crackling sound a few times. We investigated further and found that juice was leaking out of the bottom – probably due to it becoming clogged too often at the recess at the bottom of the auger – and that juice was running down onto the base of the unit and down past the rotor/corkscrew component and into the motor housing.

Not good!

We contacted Designer Habitat via Amazon, fearing that they wouldn’t be interested – the reviews had warned that they weren’t particularly helpful.

However, they were extremely helpful and agreed for us to return the item with a full refund!*

I should now defend the VonShef!

If you’re going to juice 2 or 3 times a week, maybe carrots once a week, or you keep a close eye on it clogging and making sure no juice runs into the motor housing, then it’s a great juicer for the money. It’s certainly better than buying a centrifugal juicer for the same money. If you’re not juicing every day and don’t want to spend a small fortune, then I would definitely recommend one – you can buy it here.

But it didn’t quite meet our needs, and we had fallen in love with juicing.

We needed a mightier beast that could cope with our carrots! The other problem we had found with the VonShef was the amount of time we spent chopping fruit and veg – especially those damn carrots. You need a lot of carrots to make a decent amount of juice, and they have to be cut into small baton size pieces. I recall chopping carrots for about 45 minutes whilst my girlfriend chopped fruit and started feeding into the juicer. It look two people almost an hour to make that juice. That’s a long time.

So we wanted the much sought after and elusive juicer that would allow us to insert food more or less whole. Where would we find one??

I will post our findings shortly…

*It seems that although Designer Habitat did respond quickly and say that they would refund us within 2-3 days I never actually checked this – and it seems they hadn’t! I contacted them again one night and they responded the next morning apologising and saying that they had now refunded me and it would show in 24 hours. And it did. So: not bad service after all. You just might need to chase them, in the event of issues 🙂

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