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Dave the Cook

Hand-held citrus juicers

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I have one of these. Well, not that fancy, but similar. It's fine for oranges, but it's a PITA for limes and smaller lemons, so I want something else.

A friend of mine has these. It seems to do a great job with smaller fruits, even expressing some oils into the juice.

So, geek that I am, I started exploring variations on the design. In addition to the ones above (which are enameled cast aluminum), you can get them in raw cast aluminum, polished cast aluminum, cast iron, and stainless steel. In addition to the different metals, the sizes (which must relate to leverage and therefore ease of use) are all over the place.

Does anyone have experiences to relate about the various materials and sizes? Yes, it's far too much curiosity for a twenty-dollar item, but that's how I am.

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The latter style is definitely the way you want to go for home use. My only advice is to try to go for something with the most heavy-duty construction you can find. Look especially at the pin holding the hinge together. It has a real tendency to break. Of course, if that happens, you can slide a nail through the hinges (that's what I have done at home), but I'm sure you'd rather have one that doesn't break. That raw cast aluminum one looks like the stronger ones I've seen.

The size also makes a difference. They usually come in "lime," "lemon" and "orange" sizes. Since one usually juices lemons and limes for cocktails, I recommend getting the lemon sized one, which works fione for limes. If you think you will want to juice a lot of oranges, it may make sense to get a larger one as well, but I don't think it will work very well for limes.

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The lever design is like a hundred times better than the one where you press the fruit down on a bump. For no particular reason, I like the enameled ones the best. I don't actually own one, but I like the way they look -- especially the Amco ones where the lemon squeezer is bright yellow -- and I figure the enamel must be a good non-reactive surface.

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Down in Texas the Mexican markets sell cast aluminum ones for dirt cheap... I bought one for something like $2.99 and used it for a few months before I ran into a particularly ornery lime... which snapped one of the handles off... not the joint pin, but right in the middle of the handle.

I then picked up a very pretty lemon yellow enameled one like Fat Guy admires, and have used it ever since with no problems... Great tool. A stainless one would be very pretty and probably the most resistant to the destructive powers of ornery citrus fruits.

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The trick to using the kind with the "bump" is to put the citrus half in upside down, that is, with the cut side toward the holes in the bottom. When you squeeze, that causes the fruit to turn inside-out and espresses almost all the juice.

I have seen so many people use them the wrong way and be very disappointed with the result.

The smallest, works even with the little Mexican limes.

There is another type, that has a side-to-side action which works well with very small fruit and with quarters or chunks. These are often seen in bars.

I had problems with these types because of arthritis in my right hand so sprung for one of the lever type on a stand but then developed a problem in my right shoulder.

A few months back I bought one of the inexpensive electric juicers made by Hamilton Beach. It works great, even for the little Mexican limes, once I figured out to simply cut off one end instead of cutting them in half.

It is just exactly like this one which is made by Proctor Silex

juicer

I bought mine at Target for $19.95.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

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Yeah, I think stainless is the way to go, even though I appreciate the attraction that Fat Guy feels for brightly-colored objects. It also happens that the stainless unit has the longest handles, so it will have the best leverage.

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Down in Texas the Mexican markets sell cast aluminum ones for dirt cheap... I bought one for something like $2.99 and used it for a few months before I ran into a particularly ornery lime... which snapped one of the handles off... not the joint pin, but right in the middle of the handle.

I then picked up a very pretty lemon yellow enameled one like Fat Guy admires, and have used it ever since with no problems...  Great tool.  A stainless one would be very pretty and probably the most resistant to the destructive powers of ornery citrus fruits.

These are superior to all others. CDH is right

Sure you can spend more, but in terms of bang for the buck, these are off of the scale. I bought a box full of them (2 sizes) when I used to live in Mexico, and, along with wooden spoons and unfired clay bowls, they were the best value in the market in my little town (Tecate, BC, MX). They work, they are easy to clean. They will break though if you try to squeeze fruit that doesn't fit and you mash too hard. But who cares? They are dirt cheap. Two thumbs up on these things.

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The lever design is like a hundred times better than the one where you press the fruit down on a bump. For no particular reason, I like the enameled ones the best. I don't actually own one, but I like the way they look -- especially the Amco ones where the lemon squeezer is bright yellow -- and I figure the enamel must be a good non-reactive surface.

The problem with the enameled ones, in my experience, is that contrary to cdh's experiences of durability I found the hingepin to be especially weak. I think I snapped mine the third time I used it. It's been working fine for me ever since with a nail through the hinges, but I'd of course prefer that the hingepin had never broken. Perhaps the thing to do is buy one of the enameled ones and replace the weak hingepin right away with something stronger.

I also wonder about the reactivity issue. Aluminum is, of course, highly reactive with acid, and citrus is acidic. One would think that this would make aluminum a very poor choice. However, it's possible that the contact period is simply too brief for the aluminum to taint the flavor of the citrus juice. I don't know. I've never used one of the heavy duty aluminum ones, although I have resolved to buy a few the next time I find some for sale in a NYC shop.

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I use a small wooden reamer and strain the juice if I need to. it seems to work fine.

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I use a small wooden reamer and strain the juice if I need to. it seems to work fine.

Too simple and not exotic enough, Doc. You'll need to do better than that. :wink::raz:

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The aluminum ones made in Mexico do corrode if you leave the acid in contact with them for very long. However most people rinse them immediately and dry carefully. My neighbor puts hers outside in the sun for a while and she rubs it with mineral oil before she uses it.

You can also find stainless steel ones if you don't mind paying a premium price.

Sur La Table used to carry them, however I haven't checked for a while.

The hand-held reamers now come in plastic and stainless steel as well as wood and work very well if you are just doing one or two fruits. I remember Graham Kerr using one 30 years ago. Then the Frugal Goumet always used one. I use them If I am just juicing one lemon - but then I have to use a strainer over the bowl to catch the seeds.

The side lever one that I linked to in my last post is chromed, is only 6.49 and has a 5-year guarantee if it breaks. One thing that I use mine for, besides the occasional cut up citrus, is pomegranate seeds. I just pack the seeds in the cup and squeeze. I only use it if I need just a couple of tablespoons of the juice.

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I have a number of these----The shape of the handles are really key here. I've tried the mexican one, and the first time I squeezed it, it hurt my hand because the handles were squared off (as in Daves very first photo) , and the corners painfully pressed into my palms as I applied pressure. This is very important if you plan on squeezing lots of fruit, as it was uncomfortable enough to make me stop juicing. Splificator gave me an OXO hand press---I helped him with a lecture he was doing a few months back, and we handsqueezed lemons for approximately 100+ drinks. I found it to be very comfortable, and I had no problem doing the numbers with it. You want to be able to go the distance in one session, so the contour of the handles and the coating make a big difference.

The wooden reamer is good for the occasional lemon or lime, but can get messy as the juice can run over your hands. I also like OXO's free-standing manual juicer (someone posted a photo of it), because it has two sized reamers (one for lemons, one for limes) built right in, on either side of each other. The juice gets squeezed right into its own measuring cup, which has a small pour spout.

Now if we were to get fancy, I'd assume there was a mixmaster sitting on a countertop somewhere in the kitchen. I have one, and when I'm doing a decent amount of juicing, I put the juicer attachment on. Love that!

Audrey

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I just returned from the kitchen where I counted the following citrus juicers:

1)Standard Pyrex bumpy-thing- on- a- saucer variety, c. 1930. Belonged to my mother-in-law.

2)Standard Pyrex bumpy-thing on a saucer, thirty years old, mine.

3)Bird-shaped silver-plated tiny one-slice of lemon for tea squeezer, a present from my grandmother, from her trip to Colonial Williamsburg.

4)Wooden reamer, 25 cents from my local resale shop--bought two months ago and my current favourite

5) The Ward Cleaver style countertop variety(pale yellow) whereby you insert the citrus half into a dome, press down on a lever, and watch the juice flow into a glass.

6)Standard bumpy-thing model, but red and white plastic with a removeable bowl rather than an attached saucer. My mother bought this a few years ago at the St. Lawrence market when we were on a family vacation in Toronto and decided we wanted to have our own margartitas in the privacy of their hotel suite. It works well -- the bump is sharper and smaller and the bowl holds a cup and a half of juice.

7)Oh, for a camera that works! Also from my mother, a weird model from the twenties or thirties that I've never seen anywhere but my kitchen and hers. It's probably aluminum, is half-moon shaped and sits on four stumpy legs. There's a curved strainer that removes for cleaning, and this improbable device has a long, long handle which gives incredible leverage. It can hold six lime halves, or half a grapefruit, but there's no bumpy-reamer thing. It flattens the citrus halves sideways, removing all juice and pulp. It's wild -- I think Mummy picked them up at an antique acution.

None of these is a perfect solution. The more I think about it, the more I want the 19.95 Hamilton Beach model andie describes.

Good luck on your quest, Archie.

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The trick to using the kind with the "bump" is to put the citrus half in upside down, that is, with the cut side toward the holes in the bottom.  When you squeeze, that causes the fruit to turn inside-out and espresses almost all the juice.

I have seen so many people use them the wrong way and be very disappointed with the result. 

Can you go into more detail here?

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The trick to using the kind with the "bump" is to put the citrus half in upside down, that is, with the cut side toward the holes in the bottom.  When you squeeze, that causes the fruit to turn inside-out and espresses almost all the juice.

I have seen so many people use them the wrong way and be very disappointed with the result. 

Can you go into more detail here?

I think we're talking about two different designs here. You and I were talking about a stationary reamer-with-reservoir, and Andie is talking about a refinement of the hand-held/double-dome squeezer. Some of them have what looks sort of like a reamer inside, so those of us who are used to reamers naturally put the cut side of the fruit against it and squeeze. But that's not how it's supposed to work, and you don't get much juice that way. If instead you put the fruit skin-side against the bump, the squeezing action does a better job of reversing the fruit and achieving maximum extraction.

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Is your odd one similar to this one?

gallery_17399_60_13678.jpg

Very, very close, andie. Mine sits sqautter, but the principle and general appearance are the same. (I should have known yoiu'd have one!)

Another thought, Dave. There will be kids there, right? If they have some time on their hands, give them any old juicer and jars labelled "Lime" "Lemon" and "Orange." Think of a suitable bribe, and have them squeeze up a storm.

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Sam, is yours the Amco brand?

Yep. The hinge snapped in half maybe the third time I used it. Now there are a few chips in the enamel around the holes as well.

That said, I still use it on a near daily basis with a nail holding the hinge together and it works just fine. Without a doubt, it's a 100% improvement on the "fork and squeeze" method I had been using previously. For that I'll be eternally grateful to JAZ, who turned me on to the world of citrus squeezers for cocktails after seeing my pathetically inefficient and labor intensive citrus squeezing methods when we made a few drinks together. I'd still like to check out one of those Oxo squeezers, though.

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Is your odd one similar to this one?

gallery_17399_60_13678.jpg

Very, very close, andie. Mine sits sqautter, but the principle and general appearance are the same. (I should have known yoiu'd have one!)

We found one of these in my grandmother's basement when we were cleaning it out after she died. We threw it away because no one knew what it was for.
Another thought, Dave. There will be kids there, right? If they have some time on their hands, give them any old juicer and jars labelled "Lime" "Lemon" and "Orange."  Think of a suitable bribe, and have them squeeze up a storm.

Good idea. Maybe I can bribe them with liquor.

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I also have a bunch of the hand-held reamers, I used to collect the ones from the 20s and 30s, glass and porcelain. However about 20 years ago, when they became rather pricey, some began showing up that were fakes, probably made from molds of the originals. However they couldn't duplicate the true glass colors but a lot of people were scammed. I knew the subject so wasn't hooked, however I quit buying them because there were just too many fakes out there.

"Depression" glass seen in most antique stores now is probably 60 to 70% fake, particularly the pink and green. Lately a lot of the "vaseline" color, because it has always been more costly, has been showing up and all are fakes.

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If there are going to be kids there, non-alcoholic blender drinks can be a big hit.

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