Shopping: I Want To Own... A Juice Extractor - More juice, please

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The Independent Culture
There are two common ways to cure post-Christmas depression, both for around pounds 500 a head. The first is to book your summer holiday and tighten your financial belt for the next six months. The second is to book into a gym and tighten your trouser belt for the next six months.

The cheap, healthy way to clear your head and restore your energy is to give your internal engine an oil change by increasing the amount and quality of fluid you drink. H20 is the obvious solution, but rampant branding of the bottled variety combined with the unsavoury reputation of the on- tap stuff has literally clouded the waters of this ubiquitous liquid's life-sustaining qualities. And fizzy water is so Eighties.

The thought of rustling up a glass of freshly pulped, exotic fruit juice, though, seems far more in keeping with the zeitgeist, given the current vogue for juice bars where Sunny Delight-shunning aficionados sup cocktails of aloe vera, bluegreen algae and wheatgrass. The latter is available at Planet Organic (0171-221 7171) but at pounds 12 a tray - around 20 fluid ounces of juice - it's a tad more expensive than the turf from the local garden centre.

Not that you have to go so far out of your way to concoct healthy drinks. Raw materials are plentiful in your local supermarket, and the nutritional value of, say, watermelon juice should not be underestimated - it stocks nearly as many vitamins as Boots (beta-carotene, folic acid, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6) and half a periodic table's worth of minerals, including calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Would that have cured the raging hangover you woke with on New Year's Day? Probably not, but if you make the right juicer purchase then you can always use it to concoct perfect Bloody Marys. Researchers experimenting on rats may claim to have disproved the restorative capability of bar- tender Fernand L Petiot's 69-year-old hangover cure, but the hair of that particular bloodhound still works wonders on me.

MAY THE CENTRIFUGAL FORCE BE WITH YOU

Name: Waring Professional Juice Extractor

Price: pounds 239

Stockists: 0181-232 8171

What it looks like: The big daddy of centrifugal juice extractors, this looks like a sinister cloning experiment using the genes of a pressure cooker: cast iron body, stainless steel parts and the sort of heavy-duty motor that keeps 18-wheel rigs on the freeways.

What it does: Centrifugal juicers work by grating fruit and veg through a fine mesh then ejecting the pulp and skin through rapid rotation. They aren't particularly efficient, and cleaning them is a royal pain in the ass. But they can be cheap - and all of them make tastier, creamier juice than the best freshly squeezed juices on offer in the supermarkets. This one is bigger, badder and better than the rest.

Style: *

Any others worth considering? If colour co-ordination is your prime consideration, then Magimix do a range of 250-watt juice extractors in yellow, green, black and blue as well as the common white (pounds 99.50). According to Good Housekeeping, which is more concerned with practicality than looks, the 250-watt, two-speed Hinari Lifestyle JEP311 (pounds 26.50, stockists 0181-594 5533) delivers the best orange juice of the cheaper models in the range. Kenwood's two-speed JE500 (pounds 36.25, stockists: 01705 476000) gives the most acceptable carrot juice.

THE PRESS GANG

Name: Rachand Products Giant Citrus Press

Price: pounds 160

Stockist: Selfridges (0171-629 1234)

What it looks like: The chunky metal nuts attaching its long, sprung- lever arm to its base give the Giant Press the appearance of a galvanised acoustic guitar stock. Upside down.

What it does: If oranges are the only fruit you're interested in - and let's face it, who is interested in alfalfa or kale juice? - then this industrial-looking beast mauls them with brutal efficiency. Chop your Vitamin C-carrier in half, shove it into the vice and pull on the lever. Your orange's last thought as the hydraulic lever crushes the life out of it will be of Sweeney Todd.

Style: ***

Any others worth considering? The compact, dome-topped Prolane Chrome Citrus Juicer (pounds 52.95, stockists 0171-730 1234) and Dancer's cheaper copy (pounds 29.95, John Lewis, 0171-629 7711), both of which look like the bastard offspring of an affair between R2D2 and a chrome cappuccino machine.

ON A BENDER

Name: Waring Professional Blender

Price: pounds 149.95

Stockists: Divertimenti (0181-246 4300) or 0181-232 8171 for other retailers

What it looks like: As well-proportioned as New York's Chrysler Tower and as important a symbol of American design (see picture, right). The Waring blender's 1.25-litre glass jar (there is a metal version for pounds 169 but it doesn't have the Coca-Cola coolness of the glass version, in production since 1935) sits snugly over blades sharper than Edward's scissorhands, atop a chrome plated platform (again there is a version with a blue enamel base for pounds 149).

What it does: Shreds fruit and veg into a thick, smooth liquid, and crushes ice - perfect for Margaritas!

Style: *****

Any others worth considering? Hamilton Beach does a 330-watt, 1.25-litre budget blender (pounds 59.95, Liberty, 0171-734 1234) or a versatile, seven- speed pro model (pounds 80), but the buttons on the latter are ugly. Better looking is Magimix's streamlined, 450-watt, two-speed Pro Blender (pounds 119, John Lewis, 0171-629 7711), although its chunky tower looks like cheaply recycled glass and the plastic fittings are unsightly.

SQUEEZER PLEASER

Name: Juicy Salif

Price: pounds 39.95

Stockist: Ocean (0870 8484840)

What it looks like: A tripod out of War of the Worlds. This Philippe Starck- designed squeezer is well on the way to becoming a classic - for the middle classes at least - among whom it is looked upon with the same dewy-eyed affection as the Lazy Fish corkscrew.

What it does: Looks stately whether or not you use it to squeeze lemon onto your Marks & Spencer mixed salad. It would be the epitome of form before function were it not for the tiny rubber tips attached to its metal legs, preventing it from scratching your Formica.

Style: ****

Any others worth considering? Grunwerg does a stainless steel version (pounds 12.99) of the classic glass lemon squeezer for those still living under the misapprehension that the Seventies really did come back in fashion. It also does a more contemporary-looking version with interchangeable cones for lime, lemon and grapefruit (pounds 20, both Selfridges, 0171-629 1234).

JUICING BOOKS

Name: Juicing for Health (Thorsons at Harper Collins)

Price: pounds 6.99

Stockists: Books etc (0171-379 6838) or 0870 9002050 for other retailers

What it looks like: Something so frighteningly straight that, if your friends spot it tucked behind your Keith Floyd cookbook, you will have to pretend your mum forced it on you.

What it does: Straightforward advice on juicing hardware, therapeutic juice cocktails, recipes to use up pulp overmatter, non-alcoholic party drinks and detox regimes. Like all such books, however, the advice must be taken with a pinch of salt (not literally). For instance, around one per cent of hayfever sufferers get raw-food intolerance related to their allergy, and rather than soothing them, the recipes mentioned here might actually worsen the condition.

Style: *

Any others worth considering? Plenty, including the hardcore pulper's handbook, Complete Raw Juice Therapy (pounds 5.99, Thorsons, 0870 9002050) which includes a "cure" for cancer - two pints of carrot or beetroot a day - and Juice High: Experience the Power of Raw Energy (pounds 7.99, Books etc., 0171-379 6838) which, despite its tuned-in, dropped-out title is so uninformed as to current pop mores that it believes Ginger Spice comprises three carrots, a pear and a chunk of ginger.

And if you think all of the above sound tiresome and worthy, then look out for Shakes & Soda Smoothies by Deborah Gray (pounds 8.99, Apple) which is due out soon and set to include cal-horrific recipes for Coconut Hula Screams and Marshmallow Foam (an unholy trinity of milk, mini marshmallows and raspberry ice cream). I'll try to stick to the Virgin Marys, for a week at least.

FINISHING TOUCHES

1. Store: fruit bowl, pounds 39.95, Ocean (0870 8484840)

2. Serve: set of 12 large tumblers, pounds 24.95, Divertimenti (0181-246 4300)

3. No spills: Alessi oversized chrome coasters, pounds 9.95, Selfridges (0171- 629 1234)

4. Cheat: Ginger De Tox with pineapple and ginger, from pounds 1.15, Cranks (0171-792 0192 for nearest outlet)

Shaun Phillips,

Deputy Editor, ZM

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