Getting juiced

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It was probably fifteen years ago that my mother bought a Champion juicer.

A Champion juicer is a big, heavy powerful appliance that reduces fruits and vegetables to their constituent parts: juice and sawdust.

Juicer of champions

Juicer of champions

You put the carrots, or beets, or apples down the chute, and press them down with the plunger. They’re forced into a horizontal cylindrical chamber which encases a rotating plastic baton with sharp little blades. The blades pulverize the food, and the juice is forced out through a fine screen at the bottom of the cylinder. The sawdust, which is remarkably free of moisture, comes out the thing’s maw at the other end.

A Champion juicer is not inexpensive. These days, it retails for a little over $200. Although other juicers cost less, other juicers do not have the power to juice the furniture.

When my mother got it, we tried it on everything but the furniture. I even wrote about it, in an article entitled, “How to Make the Most Mess with the Fewest Appliances.”

But it didn’t take. Before long, the Champion was relegated to the Closet of Appliance Mistakes, where it nestled up against the gelato maker. (First, of course, my mother offered it to me, but I’m not stupid enough to take a big, heavy appliance destined for the Closet.)

It’s not that my mother doesn’t like vegetable juice. She does. It’s that the assembling, disassembling, and cleaning of the many Champion parts, combined with the hassle of hefting the heavyweight Champion motor, made the whole enterprise not worth the trouble.

I’ve learned many things from my mother, and one of them should have been not to buy a Champion juicer. But when I saw a barely used one at a yard sale for $12., I couldn’t resist. Twelve dollars! That’s five percent of its retail price! Besides, I don’t live in a tiny apartment any more. When you have an entire Basement of Appliance Mistakes, you can branch out.

Still, I wasn’t sure. “I’m not sure,” I said to Kevin as we contemplated the juicer.

“If you don’t like it, you can put it on Craigslist and you’ll probably get your twelve dollars back,” he said. Although this was true, I think he just wanted to make sure I went home with something substantial, since he had just bought a windsurfer that came with three sails, two masts, a boom, and a harness.

I should mention that the Basement of Appliance Mistakes is also the Basement of Water-sports Mistakes. If this windsurfer joins the other two that are already down there, there won’t be much room for the Champion juicer.

I bought it anyway. What pushed me over the edge was the thought that the vegetable pulp, which still has considerable nutritional value, could be fed to the chickens. Everybody wins.

The other orange juice

I forked over my twelve dollars, and took my juicer home. All the parts were there, and it hummed smoothly when I turned it on. We had half a bag of carrots in the refrigerator, and we used them for the test ride.

Champion juicers still make a mess. The juice dribbles out the bottom in such a way that, no matter how big your receptacle, some of it gets on the counter. A little trickle of juice also seeps out of the seam between cylinder and juicer. Carrot crumbs adhere to all the parts, and microscopic bits lodge in the holes of the screen. The baton with the blades, which, according to the instructions, must not be submerged in water, gets fibers wedged between blade and housing.

Which brings me to the single most important piece of advice I can give you about a Champion juicer: Clean it right away. Two hours means the difference between rinsing and jackhammering.

We ended up with two glasses of carrot juice. It tasted exactly like the carrots it came from — fine but a little bitter. We also had a nice plate of carrot crumbles for the chickens, and we headed out to the run.

Dream on

Dream on

We expected an enthusiastic reception, but the chickens wouldn’t touch the stuff. They gave one or two experimental pecks, and then looked reproachfully at us. “This isn’t carrot,” they were obviously saying, “This is sawdust.”  This, from birds that eat rocks, charcoal, and tree bark.

Apparently, you can’t drink your carrot and feed it to your chickens, too.

I’m not giving up on the juicer just yet. I’m very fond of beet juice with ginger, and I’ll give that a whirl. And if anyone out there has any brilliant uses for it, I’m all ears. But if you’re in the market for a Champion juicer, you might want to keep an eye on Craigslist.

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Comments

  1. Well, I used a juicer for onion juice once. I had a huge sack of onions that I needed to use. I froze the juice in icecube trays and it was perfect for seasoning without chunks and sauteeing etc. I also put some in a narrow top bottle in the fridge. It didn’t keep as long as I hoped. I need to figure out a natural preservative.

    Oh, it does make the juicer and icecube trays smell of onion, but I didn’t mind as my juicer was also a thrift buy and was dedicated to onions ;). If it weren’t I’d try juicing a lemon after and tossing the juice–or adding it to the onion juice? Don’t know if it’d deodorize it enough.

    Would the chickens eat the leavings if they were mixed with other feed? Or maybe its sawdust properties would be more appetizing for them if it were moistened with water?

    (just found your blog the other day so I’m new!)

  2. beachnitpicker says:

    Tamar, mix lard (of which you have a surfeit) into your juicer debris for the chickens, and Natalia, a little vinegar (or the juice of the lemon you’ve used to deodorize the juicer) will add to the life of your onion juice.

  3. Natalia — You must be the only person in the whole wide world with a juicer dedicated to onions.

    As for preserving onion juice, an acid, as Beachnitpicker suggests, would do the trick. I’d just freeze the lot, though.

    BNP — Excellent idea about the lard.

  4. Wow, I hadn’t thought of doing onion juice again but you both have given me hope! Now to find another sack of onions nice and cheap.

    Tamar, you made me laugh. I don’t mind being famous for that. 😉 Any fame will do (well, maybe not scandal.) I don’t think that’s the kind of eccentricity my artsy dh would appreciate me standing out for, but oh well!

  5. VitaMix reins supreme among juicers IMHO!!! Carrot ‘sawdust’ would probably be a wonderful,rapid deteriorating compost ingredient!!!

  6. Chris — Like you, I’m a rabid VitaMix fan. I swear by mine for smoothies, purees, sauces, and anything else that needs to be chunkless.

    I find, though, that it doesn’t do vegetable juice. It liquifies the pulp, but it becomes a very viscous liquid, and I don’t think it’s good for drinking. Great as an ingredient, though.