Review: Juiceman, Jr.

Many of the gadgets mentioned on CrunchGear are geared for the living room or office.  There does exist, however, an entire range of under-represented gadgets designed for the kitchen.  For you, dear reader, I have explored all that the Juiceman, Jr. has to offer. (Note: that link will resize your browser window.  Bad Juiceman, Jr!)

The Juiceman, Jr. is an entry-level juicer, costing about $80.  It is assembled from a number of removable parts, each of which is easy to clean.  Assembly and dis-assembly is extremely straightforward.  The 1/4 horsepower motor offers two juicing speeds, though I never found the need to use the fastest setting.

To use the machine, you simply drop fruits or vegetables down the food chute.  You can use most whole fruits and vegetables without much preparation.  No need to core apples or pears: just drop ’em in whole.  The owner’s manual instructs you to peel oranges first, and to not use bananas, so I took it at its word.  This is a review, not a college dare!

Waste material is spit into a collection cup at the rear of the unit.  The owner’s manual suggests that you use the little veggie bag from the grocery store as a liner for the collecting cup, to make clean-up easier.  I wholeheartedly agree with this recommendation: it makes it much, much easier to clear up after juicing.  If you’re into composting, the waste material would make a fine addition to your compost heap.  Depending on what you’ve juiced, I imagine you could use the waste material for other purposes, too.

The juice created spills out the spout at the front and into the juice cup.  The cup has an interesting design: it has a removable “pulp shield” that sits in the front portion of the cup.  As the juice spills out the spout, it falls into the cup and the pulp shield helps separate the thicker foamy bits from the yummy juice you really want.  I didn’t expect it to work very well, but was pleasantly surprised to see it keep my juice more pure.

Cleanup after juicing is very easy.  The parts separate quickly, and a quick rinse in the sink with a soapy sponge was usually all I needed.  Most of the parts are plastic, but the juice filter basket is made of stainless steel.  To clean this you’ll need to use the supplied scrubbing brush, otherwise you’ll have a hard time getting all the food bits out of the fine teeth.

I’m normally not much of a juice drinker.  The occasional glass of orange juice or tomato juice with breakfast at Bob Evans is usually where I stop.  When my Juiceman, Jr. review model showed up I figured I’d try my hand at a few traditional juices, and then experiment with more complex juices.  Apple juice is extremely easy to make: just stuff whole apples into the food chute.  Orange juice is similarly easy, provided that you first peel the orange.  Carrot juice was surprisingly flavorful.

In order to really put this thing through its paces, though, I ventured to those mysterious websites populated by juicing fanatics, learning about ingredients that I didn’t even know produced juice.  Who knew you could juice cabbage?  Or spinach?  I created concoctions named “Strength Juice” and “Health Drink”.  I juiced together combinations of fruits and vegetables that I would never have associated together.  The Juiceman, Jr. handled everything I threw at it.  Most of the juices were quite tasty, though I expect that depends to a large degree on individual taste buds.

My only complaint is that the juice cup is a little small.  It’s not really small — after all, this is a personal, entry-level juicer, not an industrial-strength juicer destined for a cafeteria — but some fruits and vegetables produce more juice than others, and I sometimes worried that the cup would overflow.

If you’re so inclined, you can watch nearly nine minutes of hot juicing action:

If you’re a juicer, why not share your favorite recipes in the comments?

The bottom line

If you’re trying to live a more healthy lifestyle, or know someone who appreciates fresh juice, the $80 Juiceman, Jr. is a fine choice to try out juicing without going full-bore into extreme juicing mania.  If you hate juice, maybe buy yourself a beer-making kit instead.

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