If you’ve just picked up one of the best juicers, you’re probably realizing that getting the best results takes a little effort. Those first glasses may not be quite the bold, daring blend of flavors you’re pursuing — but don’t be put off. With a little research and the right tools, you’ll be creating taste sensations in no time. We talked with a juicery owner, a recipe developer and a pair of cookbook authors to find the 12 best tools to help you get started juicing at home.
There are a ton of great reasons to juice. Juicing lets you decide what goes into your glass. You can create your own blend of juices that are different from pre-bottled options and adjust your morning routine based on what fruit is in season to take advantage of the freshest produce. On the other hand, juicing is also a simple way to cut down on food waste because you can use up the remains of a bag of spinach before it spoils.
“Juicing can be a game changer,” says Cherie Calbom, M.S., co-author of “Juicing for Life.” “It’s one of the easier ways you can meet your five-a-day fruit and vegetable quota.”
And if you’re looking to get used to new tastes, juices are an easy way in. Whether you’ve got a reluctant kid or you’re trying to warm up to the taste of kale, juice is a way to incorporate leafy greens into your diet without them being the predominant flavor.
Justin Camilo, the director of product development at Pressed, a juicery with multiple locations in California, encourages people to embrace experimentation. “Don’t get discouraged if your first batches don’t taste as good as you like them to,” says Camilo. “It’s OK to mess up and play around with the ingredients you’re using.”
If you’re new to juicing, you may want to start with recipes from a cookbook or by adding in layers to familiar flavors. Calbom suggests beginning with a simple recipe she calls the Ginger Hopper, a blend of carrot, apple and ginger, then “you can add some greens like spinach or kale and you won’t even know they are there.”
“The old adage ‘You have to crawl before you walk’ applies heavily here,” says Chris Goode, the CEO and founder of Ruby Jean’s Juicery based out of Kansas City, Missouri. “Juicing should be eased into; you don’t have to take an all-or-nothing approach when starting out.”
Picking out the right juicer
While a citrus press is great for making a few ounces of juice for baking or cocktails, the act of hand-squeezing lemons to make a big pitcher of lemonade gets old fast. You can juice with a blender, but you’ll need a nut milk bag or stainless steel strainer to catch the pulp before you drink from a glass.
Once you start drinking juice regularly, you’ll likely want to invest in a juicer. You have the choice of masticating juicers (also called cold press juicers) that use a slow-moving auger to extract juice from fruit or centrifugal juicers where blades spin rapidly as juice is pushed through the machine. Both types of juicers have built-in pulp catchers and strainers.
Trying to work more leafy greens into your diet? Calbom suggests investing in a masticating-style juicer.
“A masticating-style juicer will do herbs and delicate greens, such as sprouts, parsley or cilantro,” says Calbom.
But while masticating juicers can effectively squeeze juice out of difficult vegetables like kale, Vanessa Simkins, the founder of All About Juicing and author of “The Juice Lover’s Big Book of Juices,” urges people to spend some time prepping, and not to fill their juicers unnecessarily with every part of the fruit.
“Avoid juicing peels, pits and seeds,” says Simkins. “A general rule is if you can’t eat it, you usually cannot juice it.”
The Breville Super Q offers power without sounding like a jet engine is taking off from your kitchen counter. In our testing, it made excellent smoothies and was smartly designed. For “anyone who is new to juicing,” Camilo recommends “a blender or a home juicer” for extracting the most of your fruit, vegetables and greens.
If you juice daily, the Hurom H-AA Slow Juicer is the model we recommended after extensive testing of juicers. It produced clean, bright juice and was intuitive to use. The included brushes made it simple to hand-wash and the 10-year warranty on the motor softens the blow of the Hurom’s price tag.
The Nama produces brilliantly colored juice with a nice depth. At slightly over 12 pounds, the stylish juicer (it comes in black or white) is easier to lift off and on the counter. Calbom likes the Nama juicer because of its “ease of use and ease of cleanup.”
If you want juice, and not a smoothie, you’ll need an Ellie’s Best Nut Milk Bag after you’ve blended your fruits and vegetables. The nylon bag has a drawstring top and can hold up to 4 quarts. It’s a more flexible strainer so you can use pressure to squeeze juice through the mesh (leaving pulp or seeds behind) similar to piping icing through the opening in a pastry bag.
The best tools to prep your fruits and vegetables for juicing
If you want to build time for juicing into your routine, you’re going to have to do some work for your future self. Camilo recommends this quick step as an easy place to start.
“In my house, we immediately wash our produce before putting it in the fridge,” says Camilo. “That way the fruits and veggies are ready to be chopped up as soon as we’re ready to juice.”
When it comes to chopping, it’s important you have sharp knives to allow you to easily separate peels and cut through fibrous vegetables.
“Make sure your knife is sharpened,” says Goode. “Sawing away at a sweet potato with that rusted butter knife will leave you regretting you ever started.”
Camilo recommends you “invest in a good set of knives,” and this Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set fits the bill, as it received top marks in our review of the best knife sets. The stainless steel knives include a chef’s knife for chopping apples and paring knife for snipping the tops off strawberries as well as a sharpening steel and chop assist tool.
This Victorinox paring knife is an inexpensive but useful addition to your drawer. The stainless steel knife can help you peel delicate fruit like kiwis and work your way around the peel of an apple without bruising the fruit. The small knife also has a large handle that’s comfortable to grip.
The Oxo Good Grips Cutting Board Set is a sturdy pair of plastic cutting boards. The set, recommended by our kitchen testing expert, is resistant to knife marks and has drip catchers to keep your counters clean. We’ve checked out a bunch of the best cutting boards and have found options to suit any taste; Goode prefers nonporous cutting boards because “they are very easy to clean and allow you to switch between ingredients quickly with a simple spray-down.”
The KitchenAid Classic Measuring Cups are made of thick plastic with flat bottoms that stay in place on your counter. The nesting set (1/4, 1/3, 1/2 and 1 cup) has a glossy interior that helps keep fruit from sticking inside and can be stored via an included ring or stacked. Camilo notes that measuring cups are important “so you know how much of each ingredient you’re adding to your juice.”
How to store your juice (and how to clean up the mess after juicing)
When you find a juice recipe you like (Camilo suggests starting out by adding spinach to strawberry mango juice), you may want to have juice on hand without having to haul your juicer out each morning. Simkins recommends batch juicing, in a fashion, similar to meal prepping on the weekend.
“Make a large batch of juice one day of the week and pour in bottles,” says Simkins. “Leave some in the refrigerator for the next few days and freeze a few bottles for the end of the week.”
If you’re going to freeze juice in a glass bottle, she reminds people to leave space between the juice and the cap to allow room for the liquid to expand.
Cleaning can be a time-consuming task and often a deterrent to even getting started. Camilo says “soaking the machine in warm water with a little soap for an hour or more after making juice makes it so much easier to clean.” It also keeps you from having to hand-wash everything while your guests are waiting on brunch.
Simkins created a line of glass bottles, like the VAS Exclusive Glass Water Bottle Set, with wide mouths that made it simple to store and pour juice. “Glass bottles don’t hold an odor, don’t stain and are reusable and durable,” says Simkins. The six clear glass bottles come with reusable lids and hold 16 ounces. The bottles are dishwasher-safe, but the lids have to be washed by hand.
Bottles don’t have to be awkward to clean, and the Oxo Good Grips Bottle Brush is an effective way to clean the inside of juice bottles, travel mugs and water bottles. The neck is long enough to reach inside bottles with narrow caps and the stiff bristles make it easier to clean under or around edges. Throw it in the dishwasher when you’re done.
Pulp and fiber have a tendency to get caught in the nooks and crannies of a juicer and the Gum Deep Clean Toothbrush is a helpful tool to have in your kitchen. The soft bristles won’t scratch your juicer and the silicone handle gives you a firm grip as you get into the teeth of your machine. It’s a three-pack, so you can also treat yourself to a new toothbrush.
Juicers produce a lot of pulp (fruit flesh that has been squeezed of juice) and the GreFusion Compostable Trash Bags are a way to neatly catch that pulp. The 1.2-gallon bags, which should fit most juicers’ pulp baskets, are made of corn and can be composted alongside your juicing scraps. Goode recommends having bags to line the pulp basket to make cleanup quicker, which can be time-consuming with juicers.