Tim's juicer

[An image of Tim's juicer]
Samson Ultra Twin Gear Juicer

Juicing

I'm an enthusiastic juicer of my own fresh fruit and vegetables.

To assist me with this, I have my own juice extractor. This page is devoted to describing my experiences with it.

Despite my inexperience with comparable models from the competitors, I have done my best to review the machine - partly in the hope of assisting other consumers.

Purchase

Before I bought the device pictured above, I had three juicing devices which were employed on a daily basis - a manual wheatgrass juicer, an electrical citrus press, and a blender (which I combined with an extremely fine seive).

I had come to consume more than my fair share of wheatgrass, and the manual juicer I had been using was clearly not going to be the one I would end up using.

The liquidiser worked well - but it totally pulverised my produce. I was concerned that this was destroying much of the goodness, mixing in too much oxygen, and resulting in too much mixing of the juice with any pesticides (in the case of e.g. grapes).

I was not sure how many juice machines I wanted.

I liked having a dedicated juicer for wheatgrass and leaves - it meant I did not have to clean it so often.

The citrus press was certainly convenient to use. I reckoned it would be hard for a gear juicer to beat.

I decided I wanted a twin gear juicer.

It looked to me like twin gear juicers were the most efficient and durable types of juicer - with the caveat that they were also the most mechanically complex and difficult to clean.

I was pretty sure I would wind up using such a machine for wheatgrass and vegetables. If I found it necessary to supplement it with other devices for some produce - well I would deal with that issue if and when it arose.

Samson had recently bought out their first twin gear model - the Samson Ultra, KP-E1301 - and were marketing it as being easier to clean than comparable juicers, with more efficient juice extraction and a reduced tendency to clog up.

A combination of this sales pitch, Samson's reputation, and prior contact with Samson's previous juicer convinced me to part with my cash.

[Juicer jug]
The jug

First impressions

My first impressions were a bit mixed:

The juicer was smaller and lighter than I had expected. The jug they has supplied seemed to be made of some sort of plastic - and did not exactly exude quality. Also a quick look at the fruit screen indicated that the holes in it were much larger than those I was accustomed to - I anticipated much pulpier juice than normal - and thought I might well have to perform a second stage of seiving. Lastly I was immediately concerned that the screen area was quite small.

I washed the machine's components, assembled it and started to juice some wheatgrass. This turned out to be rather a lot more frothy than I had ever seen wheatgrass juice before. Unfortunately - my next experience involved attempting to down the resulting shot of wheatgrass - and instead pouring the whole jug of bright green liquid down my shirt and shorts.

It appears that the jug has a slit, designed to let the juice flow out - right before the point where I am accustomed to drink from.

After changing my clothes, I repeated the procedure - this time using my own jug. Apart from all the froth the machine seemed to perform this task without the slightest sign of any strain.

[Juicer with no cover]
Under the cover

Operation

One of the twin gears is driven by the motor - the other rotates passively next to it.

The motor runs at a single speed - but can go in both directions.

The two gears have to be aligned correctly - since the two helixes involved have different periods. Three "red spots" are designed to assist with this.

The stainless steel teeth of the gears grate, and then grind the produce. Then an "acetyl resin" helix compresses the pulp - and simultaneously squeeses is against the screens.

The moving stainless steel components never touch other stainless steel anywhere in the machine. This seems to have been done to reduce the chances of metal flecks in the juice.

There are three supplied screens - a fine one (for vegetables), a coarse one (for fruit) - and one which just lets everything out.

There are two supplied pulp-adjusting knobs - one with a strong spring (for vegetables) - and one with a more yielding spring (for fruit).

[Juicer screens]
Showing the screens

Evaluation

This is a great juicer. Generally speaking it is easy to clean, quiet, efficient, and does what I want it to.

However at the same time I can't help noticing the areas in which there is room for improvement.

I'll cover some of the strong points of the juicer first - and then move on to the niggles and gripes I have with it.

[Juicer gears]
Mounted twin gears

Juice quality

Overall the quality of the juice prodcued from the machine is very good. There are few signs of extra bubbles, and subsequent oxidation seems slow.

Juice quantity

The machine generally spits out prletty dry and exhausted waste matter - showing it has done an efficient job of extracting the juice.

A quantitative comparison on a range of popular juicers has been performed by a UK site selling the machines, [UKJuicers].

It measured the volume of juice extracted by various machines when fed 1Kg of apples - and 1Kg of carrots.

I'm not in a position to verify their figures - but the twin gear juicers are among the best. I'll give a brief summary:

According to them, the Samson Ultra is apparently beaten slightly on apples and carrots by the Green Star juicer.

A L'Equip centrifugal juicer manages to get more juice out of carrots than the Samson Ultra.

The Samson ties with the Champion Juicer on juice from carrots.

Cleaning

Cleaning time is important. The longer it takes to clean, the less inclined you'll be to use your juicer.

Several features make this juicer (relatively) rapid to clean.

Firstly, the case opens with a single lever on top of the machine. After opening this lever, the main case lifts off vertically.

There are practically no other knobs, fastenings, switches or screws involved in dismantling the machine. The only other part that doesn't then slide off is the pulp-adjusting knob - which is easily enough unscrewed.

The way one single catch holds everything together is ingenious: the components are loaded onto a supporting metal rail, and when the cover is lowered onto the assembled machine there are two metal wedged protruding downward from it - which fit into a small gap at the end of the rail and act to force all the components to squeeze up tightly against the machine's body, holding everything together and creating a seal in the process.

Cleaning the gears is simple - my main concern with the gears is the possibility of dropping them on my toe in the process of cleaning them. The pulp-discharge casing and the pulp adjustment knob are also easy to clean.

By far the most troublesome and time-consuming component to clean is the screens. The fact that they are wrapped around two tubes doesn't help.

The brush is reasonably well designed - though the nylon fibres appear to have a greater tendency to get stuck in the screen holes than other brushes I have used.

I think that the Champion juicer has the easiest screen to clean.

The relatively small number of components helps speed up disassembly, reassembly, and cleaning. However it decreases modularity - and may well wind up increasing the cost of any replacement parts.

[Juicer jug]
The jug

The Jug

My first impressions were correct - the jug sucks.

The thing is made of some sort of plastic. I was taught not to store my juice in plastic containers. Plastics are toxic - and juice is often acidic and corrosive. Also, plastics scratch when scrubbed - creating an environment for bacteria to lodge. I don't care if the manufacturers claim to have used some super-duper newfangled plastic compound which minimises these defects - the very fact that they have supplied me with a plastic jug suggests to me they do not know what they are doing on this front.

Possibly they are trying to reduce weight. However I suspect they wanted a material they could screw their magnets to.

The final straw for the jug is the slit just before the spout. I have never seen a jug like it. I have tried to imagine what was going on in the designer's mind - but so far have not been sucessful. Certainly this is not how most people make jugs - and with good reason - a slit just before the pouring region would ruin even an otherwise worthwhile jug.

These days I use my own jug. This is a standard "Pyrex" 1-Litre model. I have a fine seive that fits the top exactly.

The only problem with it is it is too big for the machine.

The machine's lowest upper part is a circular plastic ring that channels leaked juice anto the jug (this is clearly shown in the photograph below). It comes down unnecessarily low - and is the limiting factor when using a tall jug. To resolve this I have fixed my own, (longer) rubber feet on the machine, to raise it about a centimetre. I chose this course of action because there is no easy way to modify the ring - without interfering with its function, and reducing the machine's resale value.

Then the jug's rim extends past the exhaust chute - and the plastic moulding near the feet force the jug unnecessarily far from the machine. My solutions were to file down the plastic moulding - so it doesn't get in the way - and to extend the exhaust chute a centimetre or two using sticky tape.

Although it might sound lake a collection of hacks, the result - in my opinion - works extremely well - this is about the best jug arrangement I could possibly wish for.

[Juicer naked]
Exterminate!

Lumpy juice

Traditionally, twin gear machines have not been at their best when juicing fruit.

This machine comes with rather coarse fruit screens - that can let through lots of lumps into the juice.

For some fruit this is not a problem. However for other fruit the result is an notably unsatisfactory juice.

Grapes, for example are juiced fine. Melons - on the other hand - produce a very lumpy juice. It is possible to get lots of very fine juice from a melon. This juicer's output from a melon is - at best - in need of significant further processing.

One way you can tell when juice is lumpy is when you find yourself chewing on it. Unfortunately with this juicer that happens much too frequently.

On a positive note, only the fruit screen has this problem - vegetable juicing is not affected.

I often find the juicer's output unpalatable due to the lumpiness. There is a partial work-around.

The juicer's output can be fed immediately through a sieve. Periodically the sieve can be removed, the contents quickly tipped into the feeding chute, and then the sieve replaced again - before too much pulp gets into the bowl.

However there appear to be a number of problems:

  • The sieve is one more component to wash;

  • There is an additional activity to perform while juicing - you sometimes have to watch the machine to prevent the sieve from overflowing.

  • The output from blueberries, mangos, bananas - and some other fruit appears to be impractical to sieve.

  • Feeding loose pulp into the feeding chute can easily cause the pulp to back up, go through the machine very slowly and hasten it clogging up.

However, when it works, the result often seems to be worth the trouble - it can make the machine produce excellent-quality fruit juice.

I see one of the "optional components" is a pulp-free juice attachment. I haven't tried this item - but I get the impression that it will be much more wasteful - and won't really solve the problem.

[Juicer's gears]
The twin gears

Clogging up

The marketing material that the manufacturers distribute with this juicer seem to suggest that it is less prone to clogging up than competeing models. I am not in a position to comment on that - but I can say that clogging up is still a real problem with this juicer.

The problems again arise when juicing fruit. No doubt the large screen holes help the machine to avoid clogging - but it often isn't enough.

The symptoms of a clog involve the output being reduced to a crawl - and the juice "backing up" the feeding chute. All too often it can reaches the top when the tamper is fully inserted - from where it runs down inside the lining of the chute, and down the front of the machine, before being channeled into the jug.

My first clog happened on my first day - after juicing lots of blackberries. My second clog happened later the same day - 90% of the way through juicing a pineapple.

I can easily imagine that blackberry seeds might be problematical - but to have a clog without getting through a single fruit seemed like a bit much to me at the time.

Other "problem fruit" seem to be mangos, nectarines, peaches and plums.

After some more experience I find the juicer clogs up more rarely - mainly because I know its limitations and clean up when the machine when it starts to slow down - before clogs happen.

Heat

Heat is widely regarded as a undesirable thing to have in a juicer.

It can damage the juice in various ways - partly by destroying heat-sensitive enzymes, and party by speeding up degenerative provesses - including oxidation and fermentation.

The primary causes of heat in this juicer arise at the ends of the gears.

One gear is in direct contact with the drive shaft, and one inserts into a hole in the body.

The other ends of the gears go into simple holes in the discharge casing. At that end there is often lots of dry vegetable matter compressed at high pressure adjacent to the rotating gears.

In practice, both ends of the gears can warm up significantly. The main source of heat seems to be the motor. The hottest point on the gears is often on the passive shaft - at the point closest to the motor. It is possible that friction there is important as well. At any rate within five minutes of starting the machine from cold this point is typically almost too hot to hold.

As the machine continues to run the heat is slowly conducted inte the gears, the teeth, and eventually into the juice.

I do not currently rate heating of the juice much of a problem for the machine. The gears do heat up noticably - but take some time to do so.

If you are trying to juice continuously, the temperature might become a problem. However the machine is not designed for such operation - the manual advises you should not leave it running for more than 45 minutes at a time.

[Spot on the gears]
The red spots

Force

Pressing leaves into the juicer cen take some force. The upper surface of the twin gears are not sharp.

You can see in the image above that - at the very ends - they are actually slightly blunted.

As a consequence they do not make a terribly efficient grater - and pressing something like cabbage down onto them can take some considerable effort.

Speed

The juicer can sometimes take its time to juice things. I don't think it will win any awards as a speed demon in the juicing world.

Cutting out

I've had one cut out so far.

I was feeding frozen blackberries into the machine.

It was the first time I had tried feeding in frozen fruit.

The instructions mention feeding frozen fruit directly into the machine briefly in an example - so I figured this was probably acceptable. The example used the "crush" screen - which is just a hole. I was using the fruit screen.

After several dozen frozen blackberries the machine suddenly stopped. I turned it off, cleaned it and tested it again. It seemed fine.

It seems quite likely that I was seeing the safety cut-out in action - rather than watching the machine jam up.

The machine had not been running for long - but perhaps it had grown hot with all the work. This is consistent with the cut-out not being preceded by a slow-down.

These days I tend to put frozen produce into water before feeding it into the juicer. It isn't much trouble to do, probably results in the extraction of a greater volume of juice - and it seems less likely to stress the machine.

[Gears in my hands]
Holding the gears

Peripheral improvements

I'm inclined to think that some of the peripheral bits and pieces could be improved.

  • Screen patterns

    Here are the patterns on the screens shipped with the juicer:

    [Fruit screen]
    Fruit screen pattern
    [Fruit screen]
    Vegetable screen pattern
    The patterns are rectangular - and the fruit screen contains holes of two different sizes.

    I question whether this represents good design.

    I think the rectangular pattern leads to a reduced permeability at any given strength.

    It also appears to me that the variable-sized holes are of extremely low benefit. The pulp will be pressed through the large holes - while the smaller ones are likely to get rapidly clogged up.

    I think the following pattern should be employed:

    [Fruit screen]
    Proposed screen pattern

    This will give the greatest number of holes for a given strength of material - and let the juice through most effectively.

    Use of this pattern is well established in related fields. Look - for example - at the foils of electric razors. I believe you will find they all, without exception, employ this pattern.

  • Feeding funnel

    This is much too small for my taste. I like to be able to line produce up around the rim and shove it in with the tamper. There's not much scope for doing that currently.

    I also feel a larger funnel would catch much material that currently misses the chute and falls on to the machine itself.

    I imagine tastes in this area will vary. To me this seems like a good case for a modular design - if the funnel were removable, funnels of varying shapes and sizes could become optional extras.

    I think the cleaning issues this might cause could be made pretty miniscule - and I might even like being able to clean the funnel without dealing with the entire housing.

  • Fruit Tamper

    I'd prefer a turned wooden handle.

    The fruit tamper is made of two pieces of plastic, which are screwed together. Its hollowness suggests to me that the manufactures are attempting to save weight, conserve materials - or both.

    The head of the posidrive screw is the highest point. It is that you feel in your palm as you are putting your weight into pressing cabbage into the gears. Not perfect.

    Initially I put sticky tape over the screw. More recently I constructed my own tamper from a rolling pin. I sawed the end off to make it the correct length, filed the sides into a square, and then sanded smooth.

    I suspect ideally some sort of surface coating would be desirable, in order to make the surface less attractive as a breeding ground for bacteria.

    One thing I can do with this that was not possible with the original fruit tamper is stand it on its end. You'd be suprised what a difference that makes to me.

  • On/off switch

    The on/off switch is great - apparently a genuinely high quality component.

    My one concern is that switching the machine on and off seems to send a bit of a spike into the mains - causing any nearby radios to make popping noises.

    I have yet to cause any damage - but is seems possible this issue could be fixed by improved buffering and capacitance.

  • Pulp-adjusting knob

    The machine comes supplied with two pulp-adjusting knobs - with different strength springs. In practice these appear to work well. However - I can't help thinking that what I really want is a knob which can supply an adjustable force.

    The existing knobs are apparently not really designed to be adjustable. You can control to what extent they close the pulp hole - but this does noy appear to be something you would ever want to adjust.

    What you might well want to do is adjust the force the knob applies at the point when the pulp hole is folly closed. However adjusting that manually is not easy.

    Both knobs are set at their maximum force levels - and the force can only be adjusted downwards by using a posidrive screwdriver.

    I would like to have better control over the force applied. Thus, I would like it if the screw was replaced by something like a wing nut, and the screw were allowed to turn more freely.

    I would also like it the entire front two inches of the machine's cover were cut away, allowing access to the knob and its force control - and allowing visual inspection of the whole area.

    It may be the machine's equivalent of a rectum - but function can be beautiful - and in this case I think hiding and protecting the area is counter-productive.

    I see that in the Hippocrates juicer the designers have gone on to do just that - allowing the pulp-adjusting knob to be adjusted while the machine is assembled.

[Juicer jug]
The jug from above

Mystical magnets

The Samson Ultra juicer contains magnets - which the supplier states "helps preserve essential enzymes, nutrients and flavor for up to 72 hours".

The most popular twin gear juicers now all contain magnets and "bio-ceramic" technology - the latter is intended to translate the magnetic field into electromagnetic radiation.

My impression is that this is a new-age marketing ploy - mumbo-jumbo to create an apparent feature that is actually not of any demonstrable utility - but nontheless serves to distinguish the machine from its competitors in the eyes of uninformed consumers.

I rant some more about these magnets here.

[Tray of wheatgrass]
Tray of wheatgrass (top view)

Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass was probably the thing that triggered me to go and purchase a large, expensive juicer.

In case you are not familiar with wheatgrass, I include some photographs of a tray of it.

The consensus seems to be that the best way to juice wheatgrass is with a dedicated wheatgrass juicer. Multi-purpose machines seem to be generally regarded as being less adept.

Having said this, I am very happy with the performance of this machine on wheatgrass.

The machine grabs the grass and pulls it in - there is no need to push it down onto the gears.

The juicing is rapid - the limiting factor usually seems to be how fast the machine can be fed.

The process seems very efficient - with the resulting pulp being satisfyingly dry.

The machine generates heat when juicing the grass - but probably not enough to cause any significant problems.

However there is one remaining issue which means the resulting juice is less than perfect.

That is the matter of foam.

I believe twin-gear juicers produce some of the foamiest wheatgrass - and the Samson Ultra is one of the fastest-rotating of the twin-gear mechines.

Certainly this is the foamiest wheatgrass I have ever seen.

Wheatgrass foams because one of the of the constituents of wheatgrass is saponin - a detergent.

It's hard to explain why froth is bad if you haven't encountered it in volume before.

The suds don't waste juice. There is no problem with discarding them - if they can be separated off.

The problem seems to be to do with a mixture of the texture when drinking, and the issue of swallowing the air. It doesn't feel like you are drinkind a proper liquid. It even sometimes seems to affect the taste. Maybe the suds coat the tongue, preventing proper stimulation - or something.

There are also aesthetic issues. Even if you don't mind the suds much yourself you might hesitate before handing a glass of froth to semeone else.

There seem to be several techniques available for reducing the froth - and a number of them are mentioned in the Samson FAQ.

Wetting the grass in cold water has been suggested. The effects of this on the resulting froth seem fairly minimal.

Spraying the foam with water is suggested. This helps suprisingly little. The juice gets diluted. Also you need a spray handy. I wouldn't want to drink from the spray I use for spraying the grass.

Adding some other vegetables is rumoured to help a little. For me the main problem with that is that you don't have pure wheatgrass juice any more.

Sieving the juice helps. Alas, it doesn't seem to help very much.

One thing that does work is adding oil. Linseed oil seems to be recommended. This is extremely effective at reducing froth to easily managable quantities. However the change to the juice can be pretty radical. You no longer have wheatgrass juice - what you have is a wheatgrass emulsion. This seems like quite a different substance. For example it is a different colour - a much lighter green. It tastes similar - but I'm a little concerned that it's not really the same. I'm used to consuming emulsifiers when eating oily foods - to increase the available surface area and improve absorbsion. The idea of going in the opposite direction seems a little unattractive.

I don't yet feel like I have found a full resolution to the foam issue. The most common advice seems to be to put up with it.

Currently I use a little linseed oil - despite my reservations. If you only use a drop or two the emulsion seems hard to distinguish from the pure juice.

Growing your own greens

I grow all my own wheatgrass - and numerous other green vegetables.

For more details about that see the site devoted to my [sprout farm].

Wishlist/future directions

Reduced tolerance between the gears and the screens might help the machine when juicing fruit - by cutting more fibres which would otherwise cause clogs.

I've tried to think of some way the screens could be cleaned during operation.

I have imaginged - for example - a manually-operated blade that can be scraped over the outer surface of the screens. However implementing that well would be a tricky engineering problem.

I have also imagined ways to try and automate my "fruit sieving" procedure. However, at best, it appears that this is going to involve another mesh (which would need cleaning) - and might add significantly to the machine's overall complexity.

Price

This juicer cost me 380.

Conclusion

Overall, this appears to be an excellent machine.

In similar circumstances, I would buy it again.

I very much like being able to throw practically anything at the machine and have it able to digest it

Overall, it seems well designed, and robust. I look forward to many happy years together.

I am not quite sure it entirely satisfies my every juicing need.

I may - at some point in the future - supplement it with a dedicated wheatgrass juicer.

However for the moment I am quite happy with my new machine.

Links

Manufacturer

The Samson Ultra juicer on the Green Bison site

Samson juicer

Suppliers

Samson Ultra at 'Albion juicer'
Samson Ultra at 'E Z Juicers'
Samson Ultra at 'Juicer Online'
Samson Ultra at 'Ferns Nutrition'
Samson Ultra at 'Juicers For Less'
Samson Ultra at 'Aardvark Juicers'
Samson Ultra at 'Gulf Coast Juicers'
Samson Ultra at 'Aim For Better Health'
Samson Ultra at 'All Organic'
Samson Ultra at 'Living Right'
Samson Ultra at 'Water Distillers Australia'
Wheatgrass Kits
Samson Ultra at 'Yahoo'
KEMPO Juice Extractor (GPT-E1303)
Juicer comparison - includes Samson Ultra
Hippocrates Juicer - from the Hippocrates institute
Hippocrates Juicer - at Vitality 4 Life

The Inventor

Interview with inventor

Competitors

Comments from rival vendor, GreenStar
Twin Health
HealthyJuicer

UK suppliers

Hippocrates juicer at 'UK Juicers'
Samson Ultra at 'UK Juicers'
Samson Juicer - UK
Green Bison - UK
Theolife - UK
Green Power Super Plus / Kempo GPT-E1303 Juice Extractor

Magnets

Magnetic and Electromagnetic Therapy - by David W. Ramey, DVM
Magnetic Therapy: Plausible Attraction? - by James D. Livingston
Magnetic therapy on DMOZ
"Why magnetic therapy works - positive article
Magnotherapy
Houston research - positive spin
Houston research - negative spin


Tim Tyler | Contact | http://timtyler.org/