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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

To Juice or To Blend? How to Choose the Right Machine for You

So many people have been asking me whether to juice or blend, and what kind of machine they should buy, that I decided to do another post on it. 
They both have pros and cons, so you really just have to decide what your goals are and what is in your budget.  I juiced for about 4 years before switching over to a high speed blender.  Although I doubt that a regular kitchen blender could give you the same results as the Vitamix (which is what I now use), I honestly can't say for sure as I have never tried it.  I do know of people that have used their regular blender to do fruits and soft greens, such as spinach, and had no problems. 

Juicing with my Breville® Compact Juice Extractor

There are two general categories of juicers-centrifugal and masticating.  Centrifugal are by far more affordable.  They work by spinning and shredding the produce to produce juice.  Masticating juicers can be very expensive, and produce juice by pressing and squeezing.  Masticating are preferred by die-hard juice enthusiasts as they are said to create less damage and heat to the cellular wall of the produce, thereby keeping more of the nutrients intact.  The main thing you need to know about the two is that juice can be kept much longer, (up to 3 days in the refrigerator) from the masticating juicers.  Juice made from centrifugal juicers needs to be consumed within 20 minutes for maximum nutrient absorption.  One more thing, masticating juicers can process wheatgrass, which should not be used with centrifugal type juicers. 

I started with the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer (centrifugal), and it worked great for 2 years.  Then I blew the motor up.  I don't think it had anything to do with the quality of the machine though.  Sometimes when you get a dry piece of vegetable, (I think I was pushing a beet through the machine), it gets lodged in at a weird angle and gets stuck.  This is what happened when I broke ours.  The machine starts to shake, and it cracked the top.  So that is something to watch out for.  You have to cut the pieces to fit the chute, and be careful not to overload it with too much volume at once.  Overall, that was the only problem I had with it, and it worked great for the rest of the two years.  What I really like about the Jack LaLanne is the price (around $100), and the availability.  Target stocks it, as well as many other places.  You can also buy it here, with free shipping:


After blowing up the Jack LaLanne, I bought the Breville® Compact Juice Extractor(centrifugal) from Crate & Barrel.  It was around $100 as well.  They were very comparable machines, the only real difference I noticed was the pulp receptacle.  (I preferred the Breville for this reason, one less thing to clean).  Which brings me to a tip-if you decide to buy the Jack LaLanne.  Line the pulp receptacle with a plastic shopping bag, so you simply lift the trash out and throw it away, rather than trying to scrape all of the pulp out and then wash it.  You can buy the Breville Juice Extractor here:


My trusty Vitamix 5200

After 2 years of the Breville, we saved up and bought the Vitamix.  Nothing compares, in my opinion, mainly because of all the reviews of high powered blenders that I've read.  I have the standard Vitamix 5200 series.  What makes it different than an everyday kitchen blender is the speed and horsepower.  It pulverizes tough foods in seconds.  It's truly an amazing machine, and we use ours 1-3 times a day.  Not only does it make the fabulously healthy green smoothies every morning, but it makes soup from raw vegetables (the heat from the speed of the machine cooks it right in the pitcher, in 10 minutes), but it's amazing for sauces, dips, frozen cocktails, coffee creamer, ice-cream made from frozen bananas, you name it.  You can buy the Vitamix here:

*There are other, more affordable high speed blenders on the market.  I've heard great things about them, unfortunately I have no experience with anything besides the Vitamix.  Check out the revieww if they are a better fit for your budget though!  Try:

Pros & Cons-Juicing

  • The fiber of the fruits and vegetables is broken down and removed, leaving you with a direct shot of easily assimilated nutrition. 
  • You are able to ingest a much higher concentration of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and phyto-chemicals than blending. 
  • The consistency is thinner, more like the juice that you are used to.  
  • Clean-up can be time-consuming.  (Tip-to save time, have a sink full of hot, soapy dishwater ready.  After cleaning the pulp off the machine, immerse the parts in the hot water.  After you are finished drinking your juice, clean up will be quicker as the remaining pulp bits won't have dried to the machine.)
  • Juicers require a greater volume of produce to make one glass of juice.  This can be more costly in the long run. 
  • You miss out on the fiber from the fruits and vegetables. 

Pros & Cons-Blending


  • Because everything remains in the blender pitcher, you are able to drink the fiber rich pulp right with your juice, but since the machine is so high powered, you still are able to enjoy a silky smooth drink. 
  • It requires much less produce, and therefore much less prep time.
  • You are able to prep freezer bags to stock your freezer for busy mornings.  Simply remove, dump in the blender, and blend.  Quick and easy for busy mornings. 
  • Unlike the most affordable centrifugal juicers, a green smoothie made from a high powered blender can be kept up to 48 hours in the refrigerator, tightly covered.  This allows you to make a bigger batch one day, and skip the next day, if desired.
  • Clean-up!  You just can't beat a Vitamix for clean-up.  Simply rinse out the juice, fill with water and one tiny drop of dish soap, turn on the machine for 30 seconds, and rinse the soap out.  Done!
  • Cost.
  • Consistency.  Some people prefer watery juice to thicker green smoothies.  I simply add enough water to make it the consistency I prefer. 
So keeping those ideas in mind, choose the right machine.  Whichever you choose, you are greatly improving your health with every green juice or smoothie that you make!

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