Is it always best to have a whole apple size feed chute on your slow juicer?
Original Equipment Manufacturer NUC in South Korea were the first people to put big feed chutes on a vertical slow juicer, and they first appeared over here under the Kuvings brand. Korea has been responsible for many of the major steps forwards in juicer technology over the years but unfortunately almost as soon as the Kuvings B6000 appeared, it was followed by lots of inferior Chinese imitators that give less juice and dump more pulp into the juice - instead of down the pulp outlet where it should go. NUC have now taken their whole slow juicer technology a step further and this better performance is available from us in the Omega MMV702.
There are a few things to take into account before deciding if a large feed chute on a low speed juicer is potentially better, which we will go into in detail below.
- Performance - how much juice do you get once any pulp is sieved out?
- Ingredients - what will you be juicing and how much time will you save on prep?
- Ease of cleaning - will you lose any time advantage you’ve gained when it comes to clean up time?
(This article focuses specifically on slow juicer technology because with centrifugal juicers the question doesn’t arise. Providing you pick a good one - allowing for their inherent limitations on leafy greens and soft fruits - all high speed juicers work well with a large feed chute)
The Kuvings B6000 (below left) gives a good yield of juice, of about the same consistency of first generation Korean slow juicers with small feed chutes, but with the advantage of less ingredient preparation because with the bigger feed you can drop handfuls of ingredients in at a time. The time taken to juice the ingredients is also reduced.
We’ve tested most of the brands of Chinese made whole slow juicers available in the UK, because the factories that make them have offered us samples of their products with a view to getting them listed on our site. So far, we haven’t found one that meets the minimum performance level that we like to offer our customers, but the search goes on.
So that’s the first point. At the time of writing (March 2017) the large chute household models coming out of China offer lower performance than those coming out of South Korea. If you’ve never had a juicer before and you buy a Chinese version, you might still be delighted with it and that’s fine. But we know that significantly better performance is available, so at present we don't offer them. Unfortunately we can’t name names due to legal considerations, but any large feed chute slow juicer currently available for under £300 would raise an eyebrow with us. Some brands have the audacity to charge even more for these under-performers, so it can be a case of ‘buyer beware’.
A recent step change in slow juicer performance was the advent of the ‘double bite’ or 'twin wing' juicing auger in second generation slow juicers like the Omega VSJ843, but these have a smaller feed chute. NUC have now responded with a better performing big chute juicer and that technology is found in the Omega MMV702 (The same technology as the Kuvings C9500). Juice yield and pulp content from the Omega MMV is comparable with our previous best model, the Omega VSJ843. Both machines give a juice that is so free from pulp that sieving it is unnecessary and they perform better than any other slow juicer we’ve tested.
Is Chopping Ingredients Really A Big Deal?
This second point relates to food preparation before juicing. If you juice a lot of apples then this is possibly a no-brainer. The whole apple feed chute juicer will win most of the time, as long as the apples are relatively small, and you don’t want to cut them open anyway to check the condition of the core before you juice them. With larger carrots there can be time saving on ingredient prep too, but it’s important to note one point in relation to peoples expectations. Even if you have got a large feed chute, the juicer still has to keep up with the rate at which you put the ingredients in, so the juicing process itself is not going to save you a huge amount of time, although it will be a bit quicker overall.
Due to safety considerations and in order to prevent accidents, the large chute on NUC juicers has a divider at the bottom to prevent people sticking their hands in and juicing their fingers! This means that you will still have to push a whole apple past this obstruction, which also serves as a knife to divide the apple in two before it contacts the auger. Ingredients that will fit either side of the divider in the feed chute will still self-feed more or less, so it’s primarily when juicing whole apples that a push on the pusher will be needed.
You will still need to chop long fibrous stalks like celery, kale stalks, pineapple, etc. to avoid the fibres bunching up and clogging the pulp outlet - this is true of any slow juicer. Another no-no with bigger chutes is dropping a solid ‘bomb’ of whole beetroot in, because this will cause most models to activate their overload cutout. Even a few really chunky carrots can require use of the reverse function in a back and forth motion to get them through some machines, so it’s usually still better to feed these one at a time.
For many of us, chopping ingredients takes less than half a minute of extra time for a good batch of juice, and some of it can be done while ingredients already in the juicer are being processed, in which case you aren’t adding much extra time for prep. With some ingredients feeding them into a small feed chute juicer is actually a little more effective than with a large chute. Young spinach for example often bunches up when you push handfuls of it down a feed tube and it’s easier to push it into the path of the juicing auger through a smaller tube.
The Dreaded Juicer Clean Up!
Finally we come to the one thing that almost everybody dislikes about juicing. Cleaning up! Once you get into a routine this is a small price to pay with most juicers, when you consider the huge health benefits of the raw nutrients in juice. But most of us still don’t like this part.
You may have seen whole slow juicers with very large feed chutes with a kind of flap arrangement ( below, right) on the top for feeding in whole apples. Cleaning inside the top parts of these juicers requires a little more effort to get into all the nooks and crannies, so you lose a little of the time saved on ingredient preparation. With Juicers like the Omega MMV Series and the Kuvings B6000, the top parts have no see-saw flaps and if anything, they are a little easier to get at than the small feed chute type when cleaning. There’s nothing in it when it comes to cleaning the various types of auger, so that’s not an issue between the different models.
Usually, cleaning the filter screen is the bit where we spend most time. The first generation of large feed chute slow juicers are comparable in ease of screen cleaning to the first generation small feed versions. But there is a difference when we come to the newer technology for both feed sizes.
The new models give a higher return on your ingredients - more juice, less waste - but the way they move the pulp through the juicer is impacted by the screen designs and the use of pressure in the juicer. When it comes to clean up time we see a difference that swings the choice back in favour of the Omega VSJ843 juicer, and we have yet to find a slow juicer with a filter screen that is easier to clean than this one.
The row of smallest holes at the bottom of the screen is usually the bit that requires a bit of effort to dislodge any fibres that get stuck in them with a toothbrush type scrubbing brush. We’ve done repeated tests and found that this varies with different ingredients. Juicing just apples won’t present much difficulty in most cases but even the fibres of the humble carrot can expose a difference that will tip the balance for some people back towards enjoying the time advantage at clean up instead of during juicing.
The new large feed models from the NUC factory do force slightly more fibres into the holes and will take a little bit longer with the cleaning brush.
There is a useful tool for getting the thick of the pulp off the outside of the whole screen (see the green gadget pictured opposite) but a bit more attention to the finer holes is needed. You can make this a little easier by leaving the screen to soak either on the juicer (filled with water) with the juice flap closed, or in the sink.
With the screen of the Omega VSJ843, less effort is required at this stage of clean up and we have a theory about this. Around the inside of the row of very fine holes at the bottom of the screen on this machine, there are a series of narrow raised vertical ridges without any holes. We think that these vertical ridges cause the rotating auger to ‘roll’ the juice and pulp mixture past the filter holes, whereas without them there would be more of a ‘smearing’ action. The ‘rolling’ action tends to force less fibre into the filter holes in the first place, making clean up on the screen of the VSJ that little bit easier.
Personal preference will still be the main deciding factor for most of us. In our opinion the first versions of Kuvings Whole Slow Juicers offered a bigger advantage in total time, but in the long run we think that most people would prefer the newer designs that give higher juice yield, because this can add up to significant cost savings on ingredients over time. If you are looking at the large chute models currently coming out of China, then in our opinion you will be wasting significantly more of your ingredients.
The Omega MMV702 will give a significantly higher juice yield than earlier big feed slow juicers and for the first time we have a juicer that can compete on equal terms with our previous ‘best ever’ juicer, the Omega VSJ843. But does it take the overall title?
Total time taken making a batch of juice and cleaning up will vary from one person to the next. But our opinion is that we would rather have a slightly easier clean up than a big feed chute, and for this reason the small feed chute Omega VSJ still has a slight advantage for us. We may be biased here by a preference for juicing plenty of greens, because we think the experience with greens is also better overall with a smaller feed chute. If we preferred to juice predominantly fruit or hard veg and if we were less keen on the benefits of addinga decent amount of leafy greens, then the large feed chute slow juicers would win for overall convenience. Either way, we can honestly say that the Omega VSJ843 and the Omega MMV702 are currently the best performing household slow juicers available, and neither of these juicers will disappoint.