When it comes to citrus juice, the dulled contents of a carton or jug can’t compete with the intoxicating aroma and nuanced, bright flavors of fresh-squeezed. That’s why, if you take your cocktails or morning cup of OJ seriously, you need a citrus juicer. After researching dozens of electric and manual models, speaking with bartenders, and testing 13 models, we found that simpler (and cheaper) electric juicers tend to be easier to use, make the best flavored juice—sweet and acidic, with no bitterness—and offer better control over how much pulp makes it into the glass.
The best juicers are easy on your hands, wrists, and arms—very important after pressing a few dozen oranges—and they’ll extract the maximum amount of juice (without over-reaming). With some of the more powerful machines it was too easy to eat into the pith, which imparts a bitter flavor to the juice. These aren’t the machines to necessarily make gallons of juice, though. In our testing, it took more than 16 pounds of navel oranges—more than 40 oranges—to make just about a gallon of OJ. You may more realistically want to make a few cups of fresh juice for breakfast, for lemonade, or to add to cocktails.
Although we tried manual presses (and a hand press), on the recommendation of some of bartenders with which we spoke, we didn’t find them nearly as easy to use as the electric juicers, and they didn’t produce better tasting juice. In fact, the manual presses tended to crush the citrus, sending big chunks of fruit into the juice. They’re also so tall and big that they’re tricky to store.
For this guide, we interviewed Tim Cooper, bartender of Sweetwater Social in NYC; Nick Duble, bar director of now defunct pop-up bar/restaurant Mr. Nilsson also in New York; and Joshua Goldman, co-owner of Los Angeles’ Soigné Group, with 12 venues and 20 years of industry experience.
To test, we weighed five navel oranges for each juicer, then juiced them and weighed the resulting juice. Averaging these figures together, we came up with a mean juicing efficiency as a percentage. We also juiced lemons, limes, and grapefruit, to see how the juicers handled different sized citrus, and noted how easy or difficult the models were to clean. As a final test, we juiced oranges in the four top-performing juicers and conducted a blind taste test, noting the flavor (including any bitterness) and mouthfeel of the juice. Our tasting panel included Kat Odell, Drinks Editor at Eater, Nick Solares, Senior Editor at Eater NY, Christine Cyr Clisset, Kitchen Editor for The Sweethome, and Winnie Yang, writer for The Sweethome.
Proctor Silex Alex’s Lemonade Stand Citrus Juicer
Price: Listed at $25, but currently $28 on Amazon (as of March 14, 2016).
Usability & Design: It may not look like much, but the Proctor Silex hits every mark that’s important for a juicer, and it costs less than a hand press that will only extract a few tablespoons of liquid at a time. It produced as much (or more) juice as models 10 times the price, and it has a higher-quality build than similar juicers. From hulking grapefruit to diminutive limes, the Proctor Silex efficiently juiced all types of citrus, and the resulting juice consistently came out sweeter than that from more powerful models that tend to over-ream, producing more bitter juice.
The Proctor Silex was one of three models we tried with pulp control and a pitcher to catch the juice, and it outperformed the other two (Black & Decker and Dash Go Dual). At its narrowest straining setting, the Proctor Silex produced juice with a small amount of pulp, while at the widest setting the juice had a thicker mouthfeel with nice chunks. It produced 39.9 percent of the orange weight in juice, just a few points behind the best performing model (the Black & Decker).
The motor never stuttered or stalled when in use, no matter how much pressure we placed on the cone. That was in stark contrast to the Black & Decker, which has a very similar design. The Proctor Silex can get a little tiring on the elbows and wrists if you’re juicing a bag of oranges, but doesn’t require an unreasonable amount of force. Pressing the fruit down by hand, rather than with a lever, also has an upside: you’re less likely to over-ream the fruit. In our tasting, we found that the juice produced by the Proctor Silex was sweeter, with no bitter notes.
The Verdict: With pulp control, a self-contained jar, and a reamer that won’t bite into bitter pith, the Proctor Silex is the best choice for making occasional batches of OJ or fresh citrus for cocktails. At less than $16, it performs better than models over 10 times the price, and it’s compact enough to store in a kitchen cabinet.
Black & Decker CJ625 Citrus Juicer
Price: Listed at $25, but currently $16 on Amazon (as of March 14, 2016).
Usability & Design: This juicer is also very efficient, and looks almost identical to the Proctor Silex, with pulp control, a self contained jar, and a squat plastic profile. But we found that the motor tended to stall unpredictably.
It produced 44.5 percent of the orange weight in juice, the most of any of the juicers. It also did a better job than the Proctor Silex at straining pulp out of the juice, as its pulp control baskets fit much more snugly. However, the Black & Decker motor’s tendency to strain and stall made us worried it wouldn’t stand up to years of use. The juice it made was sweet with no bitterness, on par with the Proctor Silex.
At a distance of about 6 inches, it puts out an equal 95 dB of sound to the Proctor Silex, but with more unpleasant mechanical grinding noises, which is also something a number of Amazon reviewers noted. Many more have complained that at some point the juicer just stops working. (We haven’t experienced this issue, though, in over two years of use.) But this model does receive mostly great Amazon reviews, and we think it’s a good alternative if the Proctor Silex sells out.
The Verdict: The Black & Decker juices citrus very efficiently, and that juice is very sweet, but its motor has a tendency to stall. We’d get this model if the Proctor Silex sells out.
Breville Citrus Press
Price: Listed at $200, but currently $130 at Williams-Sonoma (as of March 14, 2016).
Usability & Design: If you juice a few times a week, consider investing in the Breville Citrus Press. It requires considerably less elbow grease, thanks to its efficient lever. For this reason, the Breville also might be a better fit for people with disabilities or those who could use some help in the arm-strength department. It also makes juicing large quantities a much less exhausting and onerous task.
From limes to grapefruits, our testing showed that the Breville took almost no effort to get good extraction. Its average juicing efficiency was 36.6 percent—lower than the Proctor Silex and Black & Decker, but still a respectable result. Simply pull down the dual-point articulating lever using its plastic handle and the juice starts pouring out. The Breville only comes with one cone size, but it worked well for all types of citrus. The spout snaps up to hold back the flow when you’re done so that juice doesn’t drip onto your table or countertop. It’s also the only one of our picks with a dedicated on/off switch. (The others work simply by plugging them in and pressing down on the cone.)
This juicer’s main downside is that the lever also makes it easy to over-ream the fruit, taking off a significant amount of undesirable pith. In our blind tasting, all four tasters detected a bitter note in the juice from the Breville. The bitterness was subtle and likely not noticeable to most people—especially if you’re not sipping the juice side-by-side with others. The machine also lacks pulp control. Although we found the resulting juice smooth, it was fairly thick with pulp. There’s no pitcher for catching the juice.
The Verdict: The Breville Citrus Press is extremely easy to use, fast, and easier on the wrists and elbows than our other picks. If you juice frequently, or in larger quantities, this is a great option—just be careful not to push down on the articulating lever with too much force, or you might get bitter juice.
This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to TheSweethome.com. This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome a list of the best home-wares to buy. Read the original full article above at TheSweethome.com.