Choosing the Right Commercial Juicer
Freshly squeezed juice can fetch high returns both on its own and when it's mixed into premium concoctions like cocktails and smoothies. Establishments ranging from health-oriented smoothie spots to traditional bars can benefit from having a commercial juicer in their kitchen tool kits, but they won't all benefit from the same type of equipment. Here's how to decide on the best juicer for your establishment.
Citrus juicers are designed to juice lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits. The majority of the juicers in this category are operated manually and available at low prices. In terms of how much juice they're able to produce, these options range from low to medium volume. There are four types to choose from.
The simplest device in the commercial juicer category is a citrus reamer. Users place the cut side of the fruit over the unit, then push down and twist to extract juice. The major advantage of a handheld reamer is that it costs just a few dollars, making it the most economical solution for juicing citrus. The downside to this juicing method is that it only allows you to prepare juice in limited volumes and it can't be used for any produce beyond citrus fruit. Using a handheld reamer can be messy, too, so it's a tool best preserved for juicing the occasional lemon for a cocktail or a few oranges to fulfill the odd request for fresh orange juice. If you need to juice more than a handful of fruit a day, you'll want to go with something larger.
Bars and smaller restaurants that need a little freshly squeezed juice for cocktails and the occasional glass of fresh OJ or lemonade should consider a citrus squeezer, sometimes called a lemon squeezer. This type of professional juicer is built with long handles that multiply the user's physical effort to squeeze juice from fruit faster and with less effort than a reamer. Smaller, strainer-type squeezers are operated with one hand and squeeze a single fruit wedge to add a splash of citrus to cocktails and fresh drinks. Bartenders can easily use a citrus squeezer to extract enough juice for a few cocktails an hour, but higher volume demands will require something more heavy duty.
The most complex non-electric juicer is the juice press, which is sometimes known simply as a manual juicer. This type of juicer stands upright on a sturdy metal base. The user places cut fruit onto an integral reamer and pulls down on a lever to engage a squeezer that presses juice from the fruit into a container underneath. The juice press is the quickest manually operated type and it generally yields the highest volume of juice of the three we've discussed so far. Most of these juicers are priced less than $200, so they're investments that pay for themselves quickly in establishments that need to juice several dozen fruit an hour for fresh drinks.
The simplest type of electric juicer is the electric reamer. These machines extract juice using the same method as manual reamers, but with the assistance of an electric motor to provide the twisting motion. They're not as hands-off or speedy as more complex electric juicers, but they're easy to use and to clean. If you're only juicing citrus fruit and you need to do so in medium to high volumes, an electric reamer may be the best choice for you.
Operations that specialize in serving juice, especially juice made from produce other than just citrus, depend on juicer machines to keep up with high demands. These machines are designed to extract juice quickly and thoroughly from a variety of foods, and are not limited to processing just fruit. They range in price from less than a hundred to a few thousand dollars and can handle medium to high demands for juice.
Centrifugal juicers work by chopping up fruit and spinning it quickly against a sieve to extract juice by centrifugal force. The main advantage of this type of professional juicer is that it's the fastest available, but that speed introduces a high volume of air into the resulting juice, which creates what many consider to be a few major drawbacks. First, that air causes juice to oxidize quickly, resulting in a shorter shelf life than juice extracted by slower methods. Oxidation also destroys some of the juice's nutrients, so juice produced by a centrifugal juicer may not be as beneficial to the drinker's health. Finally, centrifugal juicers tend to create frothy juice, which may be a problem for certain applications.
In addition to being quick, centrifugal juicers are relatively inexpensive. They're a good choice for establishments that need to create high to medium volumes of juice that will be served immediately. Centrifugal juicers can handle dense fruits like apples and pears, as well as vegetables ranging from tomatoes to celery. If you'd like to juice leafy greens, though, you'll need a masticating juicer, discussed in the next section.
Masticate simply means chew. This type of juicer gets its name from the auger assembly that "chews" produce and separates its juice from the pulp. Masticating juicers are generally more thorough than centrifugal juicers, meaning they're able to extract a higher volume of juice from the same amount of produce than other types of commercial juicers. That thoroughness also makes them the only reliable choice for juicing leafy greens, which require a good deal of processing for their juice to be completely extracted.
Masticating juicers are significantly slower than centrifugal juicers. They're actually sometimes sold as "slow juicers" to differentiate them from the alternative because many people choose these to avoid the drawbacks of centrifugal juicer's high speeds that we described above. Masticating juicers generally require staff to perform more prep work before produce is ready for the juicer because they must be fed smaller pieces in order to do their work effectively.
You may be tempted to invest in a lower-cost residential alternative to a more robust commercial juicer, especially if you're only juicing a few servings' worth of fruit a day. Cutting corners like that not only puts you at risk of having a machine that wears our prematurely, but can also get you in trouble with the health inspector. Many health departments only allow restaurants to use equipment that has been NSF certified, meaning it's been tested and proven to be easy to clean and sanitize, with no cracks and crevices or non-removable parts that are impossible to clean.
Professional Juicer Comparison Chart
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