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Chef's Star Manual Hand Crank Juicer
The Chef's Star Manual Hand Crank Juicer is a completely manual juicer which will work at camp sites, during power outages, and in any other no-electricity situation. All you need is a solid surface to suction the juicer to and a strong arm to crank it with.
We've used a variety of blenders / juicers over the years. One of our favorite systems to use is a Blendtec blender - but we paid around $350 for that at a Sam's Club and that was a huge investment for us. Not everyone can afford to pay that much for a juicer. This Chef's Star juicer is literally less than one tenth the price - and it won't "burn out" or have an electronics failure. It will simply keep grinding.
Here's how it works. You suction cup the unit to a completely flat surface. It's critical that the surface be quite clean and perfectly flat for the suction cup to hold. We haven't had any issues at all with the suction cup when we use it on this type of a counter.
There's a saw-tooth-edged spiral that you turn with the crank. You put the food into the hopper and then use a pressing tool to squash that food against the turning teeth. This means with one hand you have to be pressing down quite hard on the food - and with the other hand you have to be turning the crank. The turning spiral rips through the food and mashes out the liquid. This might be easy with a watermelon - and far less easy with tougher items.
My boyfriend is a sturdy hockey-player-shaped man with substantial arm strength. He can get the machine to grind through all sorts of things. We tested this unit quite thoroughly and he could take on carrots, celery, you name it. I am more a yoga type :). I find it quite challenging to get the food to mash while turning the spiral. If I hadn't been testing this, I would have gone for the Blendtec every time.
Of course, the Blendtec needs electricity. So it's nice to have the Chef's Star around as a backup. And I do appreciate the eco-friendly aspect of not using electricity. While the Chef's Star is dishwasher cleanable, you do have to take it all apart to put all the pieces into the dishwasher, and sometimes there's little food bits left in corners of it. With the Blendtec you simply toss in some ice, whir it, and it's ready to go again. You don't even have to dishwash it.
Again, though, not everybody can afford a Blendtec. For people on a tight budget who want to juice and make smoothies, the Chef's Star is a quite functional option.
I have videos of the Chef's Star in action, to show how it works. But, really, it's straightforward. Mash the food against the turning screw. The liquid comes out. The rest squeezes out, separately, dry.
This next part is a preferential issue of mine. This device is a juicer. That's what it's meant to do. It does it well - the pulp comes out fairly dry. But to me, that's the issue. I think pulp is GOOD. Fiber is good. The idea of stripping healthy fiber out of apples, celery, and other items and to drink the fructose-water that's left doesn't make a lot of sense. I'd much rather blend the raw materials and have the fiber and nutrients go into me. I suppose there might be very specific reasons that someone might need a pulpless liquid, maybe for a recipe. But for most cases, I would highly suggest people take in the blended version of the food, rather than the sugar-water version.
Still, again, it's hard to hold it against a device that is a juicer that it is indeed a juicer. So that part doesn't impact my review at all.
So, to summarize. It does what it says it does. It does that efficiently. It does take substantial arm strength. It works with no power. It's fairly easy to clean. It's quite inexpensive. It's sturdy. I'll give it a 4.5 / 5 stars with the one caveat that you need to know it needs arm strength. If you don't have strong arms, it might be better to go with a plug-in version and just accept that during no-power situations you have to stick with softer fruit / veggie options.
I was provided a review copy of this unit to test.
I'd love to hear what units you use - please contact me if you have other units that you like!
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