When is a juicer not a juicer? When it doesn’t make juice seems a good answer to me.

There are several machines that call themselves juicers yet they are really blenders. Many of their salespersons call them juicers and some of their infomercials do too. I asked one at a demo if the machine was a juicer and he said it was in front of a small crowd of people. Later on he also said it was “better than most juicers” because it left the pulp in. Left the pulp in? Isn’t the whole purpose of a juicer to separate pulp from juice? If the two are not separated, how can it be juice?

A juicer is a machine that produces juice-the liquid part of a fruit or vegetable. It does this by separating the two parts in various ways but the liquid part of the produce (juice) always comes out one spigot while the solid part (fiber) exits a different outlet.

A blender is a machine that blends together the different ingredients put into it.  It is the opposite of a juicer which separates.

Let’s take the example of a carrot. Carrots are high in sugar. When you eat a raw carrot the chewing is good for the muscles of your jaw. The chewing also slows down how fast you can eat the carrot so that the sugar in it reaches the stomach over a longer period and so is absorbed slower thereby blunting blood sugar release. The fiber in the carrot enters the stomach in relatively large pieces and that also slows sugar release and absorption. It also makes the stomach feel full, decreasing hunger so you eat less. Finally you have the benefits of the fiber itself.

When you drink carrot juice you are getting most of the nutrients contained in a whole pound of raw carrots in just a single glass of juice. Most people would have a hard time eating a whole pound of carrots. It also fills the stomach less so you can drink your juice along with a meal that contains several more servings of vegetables. On its own the sugar found in carrot juice increases blood sugar quickly. This is why it should always be consumed along with a meal. Plus the antioxidant pigments found in carrots–the carotenoids–need fat to be best absorbed, another important reason to drink carrot juice with meals.

Blend a pound of carrots and the result is a few glasses of carrot sludge that is difficult to swallow, unappetizing and that doesn’t exercise your jaw muscles. Because the carrot fibers are ground so small they give up their sugar quickly, almost as quickly as juice which can spike blood sugar levels. But you can’t drink as much blended carrot as you can carrot juice because of all the fiber so the nutrients you get are limited too nor can you drink blended carrot with a meal without greatly cutting back on other foods. In fact, drinking carrot sludge has all the drawbacks of juice with none of the benefits.

While all this annoys me what annoys me even more is how they are selling their own machines short. A superblender like the VitaMix does not need to call itself or even compare itself to a juicer. It is an excellent machine in its own right and great to have in addition to a juicer. In fact, like a juicer, a powerful blender is an integral part of the well-equipped kitchen.

Moral of this story is to make sure you know what a juicer is before you go shopping for one and know how to tell a juicer from a blender.