What makes the best juice, a blender or a juicer?
The health benefits of fruit and vegetable juice have helped stoke juicer sales. Manufacturers of high-end blenders are trying to squeeze in on the profits by claiming their products can make juice too, in addition to the usual smoothies and shakes. “Turn whole fruits and vegetables into refreshing juices,” says Vitamix, adding that its machine “utilizes every part of your produce and its valuable nutrition.”
Consumer Reports put that claim to the test by pitting the Vitamix 5200, one of our top-performing blenders, against two conventional juicers. The Bella NutriPro is a cold-press juicer with a single auger that compresses fruits and vegetables. The Dash JB001CM is an extractor-style juicer with masticating blades that pulverize produce into juice.
We made three types of juice—equally dividing apples, carrots, and oranges so that each machine juiced portions of the same produce. Our sensory experts did a taste test, assessing overall flavor and consistency. All three devices did the job, though with varying degrees of ease, output, and flavor. Here are the details.
Vitamix wins for volume and versatility. Chopping up produce and tossing it into the Vitamix 5200, $ 450, is a cinch. And there’s very little waste, a plus in terms of fiber and nutrition. But the results had more of a smoothie or purée consistency than what you might think of as juice, and our tasters noted more bitterness. Then again, the Vitamix is superb at making smoothies, frozen drinks, and more, so you’re getting plenty of added value.
Average time to juice: 70 seconds
Average percent of juice by weight: 91
Bella’s tasty results can be tedious work. Our tasters found apple juice made in the Bella Nutripro, $ 250, to be fresh tasting and clean, and its orange juice had the fullest flavor. But the machine was the most difficult to use with hard foods such as carrots, which we had to cut into small pieces. Even then the augur kept jamming, requiring us to repeatedly hit the reverse button. Carrots took 4 minutes to juice, compared with 2 minutes for the Vitamix and 1 minute for the Dash.
Average time to juice: 120 seconds
Average percent of juice by weight: 55
Dash combines functionality and flavor. We found the Dash JB001CM, $ 140, to be fairly easy to operate, though like the Bella, it has a lot of parts to clean (the devices come with a brush to help). The juice had a pleasant consistency—thicker than the Bella but not the viscosity of the Vitamix. The carrot and apple juices in particular had good flavors. The orange juice did, too, but with a hint of bitterness.
Average time to juice: 60 seconds
Average percent of juice by weight: 57
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