A citrus juicer is a device designed to extract juice from citrus fruit.
There was a time when you could count on finding a citrus juicer in every kitchen in North America. Now, with the demise of homecooking and basic baked goods such as “lemon bread”, that’s not necessarily so anymore.
If you have to operate without one, cut the citrus fruit in half and squeeze it using your hands over a bowl. Turn the fruit inside out after and press it again, to extract the rest of the juice.
Manual vs electric
There are manually-powered ones, and electric ones.
Manual ones can be simple hand-operated devices, or machines that work with you supplying the “power”.
Simple manual ones are good for processing up to two or three fruits at a time. They also usually require little storage space, and can fit easily into drawers.
Before choosing an electric citrus juicer, inquire what clean-up involves, and what storage space is required.
Classic Citrus Reamers
Perhaps the classic juicer is the “reamer in a bowl” style, meant to sit flat on a work surface while you are using them.
These types consist of a small, shallow flat bowl with edges, and in the centre, a ridged mound, which is the reamer part. They are usually made entirely of the same material, which will usually be glass, or a stainless steel reamer and a plastic bowl.
To operate this classic type, you cut a lemon in half, press it upside down on top of the ridged mound, and twist it back and forth to extract the juice. The juice gathers in the saucer. The saucer will have a spout on it for pouring the juice out, and ridges to catch the seeds and pulp.
The key with these models is to ensure that the ridges on the reamer mound are clearly defined. Some models can have blunt, dull ridges which reduces the effectiveness of the device.
Hand-held Citrus Reamers
There are also hand-held “reamers.” They are usually made of wood, or silicone plastic.
They consist of a pointy, tear-drop shaped, ridged piece of wood with a handle attached, about 15 cm (6 inches) long in total. You cut a citrus fruit in half, and hold one of the halves in your hand. You then press the reamer into it, twisting it back and forth to “ream” the lemon and press the juice out. Before reaming, if you see seeds, you can use the pointy end of the reamer to dig and flip them out. While reaming, hold the fruit over a bowl or whatever it is you wish the juice to go into.
Other hand-operated ones are machines that have an arm on them that you pull down to force the juice out of the fruit.
Typically, these consist of two squeezing parts on a bracket that has a handle.
You put half a lemon in the bottom squeezing part, and use the handle to lower the top squeezing part onto that, then press or pull down forcefully to press the juice out. Though made out of metal, arms on some less-expensive models can break with undue force.
These types of citrus juice extractors are sometimes referred to as citrus presses, as there is no reaming action.
Electric juicers are good for processing large numbers of citrus fruit at a time, and can get more juice out than you would with manual power. The downside is that most need counter space, and prime counter space at that, near an electrical outlet. Consequently, many get stored in cupboards, and tend to never emerge until someone has a clear-out for a yard or boot sale.
They have a filter that collects and strains out the pulp. Some models may slow down after pulp builds up inside, and require you to clean them out after every two or three fruits processed (the pulp of Valencia oranges won’t get as loose and cause as frequent clogging.) Some models may dance across the counter from the vibrations they make. Some electric ones can dig into the white pith of citrus fruits, adding some bitterness to the juice.
Some electric ones have different cones you swap in to accommodate larger citrus fruit such as grapefruit.
Rub outsides of fruit first in running water to remove pesticides, contaminants, pathogens, etc, before slicing and juicing. The knife you are cutting a citrus fruit with can easily carry contaminants from the outside into the interior of the fruit.
Zapping a citrus fruit first in the microwave for a few seconds can yield more juice. No more than that, though, or hot juice could squirt out and scald you when you start to juice it. But, if you are making juice to drink, warm isn’t generally considered desirable.