Although I am writing this article with the optimum 400 juicer in mind the tips can be used for any vertical upright juicer.
I recently purchased an optimum 400 juicer and overall I am really pleased with it.
However as with any new appliance I have had a few teething problems along the way. I have had a play around and found some good tips to get the most out of the juicer without any headache.
Disclaimer: None of these tips are endorsed by Optimum or Froothie and while there is no reason any of them would void the warranty if carried out as instructed, I cannot say this for sure and cannot take responsibility for any problems or damage caused by these tips.
Tip 1. Lubricate the gears.
Not sure if they are actually called gears but what I mean are the two interlocking metal parts, the convex one on the base unit of the juicer, the other being the concave or ‘innie’ bit on the auger itself. From day one I had problems getting the bowl and other parts off the base once I had finished juicing. The problem being that the auger was stuck firm. Pressing the reverse button for ages intermittently, and/or wedging a plastic knife or brush under the auger worked sometimes but on other occasions, no. One day I was almost in tears as nothing would budge…For two hours. I then realised the problem was most likely to be that with the heat of continued operation the two metal parts would expand slightly and stick together.
I decided to try a tiny smidgen of coconut oil, about a fingertip sized blob, on both metal parts before even starting juicing and see what happens. When I finished juicing the whole bowl lifted off immediately and with no trouble at all. Thinking it was a fluke I tried it again and, same result. The oil does melt in use so do take care to wipe any residues off the base unit when finished with juicing. I looked into it afterwards and found that some of the high end horizontal Masticating juicer brands do already advise lubricating the metal parts with coconut oil so maybe the vertical juicer manufacturers will twig and recommend this in the future?
Tip 2-Preparation Is Key
As with all slow juicers the fruit and veg needs to be chopped into small pieces and this is one thing that puts many people off slow juicing in the longer term. While nothing can make a slow juicer able to take whole fruit and veg there are ways of taking the pain out of the process.
Firstly wash all the fruit and veg with water and if not organic or if its a little extra dirty, or if the product has a wax coating then wash in a bowl or sinkful of lukewarm water with a drop of castille soap or Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds, rinse off and pat dry.
Secondly, have the right tools for the job. A decent chopping board, some sharp knives and a nice clear space go a long way. By ‘decent’ I don’t mean ‘expensive’. The cheapest ikea chopping boards and knives are more than adequate for many fruit and veg and the knives are particularly good for citrus fruit as they have a slightly serrated edge. I also like the metaltex knives which are sold in many supermarkets, and they are around a fiver, as these are better for hard root veg. Grab a nice big bowl, a standard sized mixing bowl or a medium sized pyrex dish are perfect if you want to make the full litre that the juice collection jug holds, to put your chopped fruit and veg in.
Thirdly, chop everything up really small, no bigger than 5cm long pieces. This seems tedious and long at first but the fruit and veg will feed through quicker, you’ll maximise the yield from the juice and there is less likelihood of everything jamming up. When you get more adept at chopping this step should take no more than 5 minutes which is not long at all really.
Tip 3 Mix up the order
I have read various things that have differing theories as to the best method to putting everything through a slow juicer. Some things say juice the green leafy or stringy stuff i.e. celery first it prevents excess pulp or foam and some say do it at the end as this will lessen the risk of the juicer getting jammed. I’ve played around a lot and what I have found is that it’s best to alternate between different types of produce throughout the juicing session. Also a piece of green leafy veg, or celery or orange is best followed by a piece of something hard, substantial and with no stringy or fibrous bits such as a bit of carrot, apple or beetroot. This helps to push the stringy, scant pulp you get with these fruits and veg through and stop everything clogging. It also results in minimal bits stuck to the auger and the bowl at the end which makes cleaning easier. If I have a particularly small lightweight piece of green veg I put it in the chute at the same time as a piece of carrot or similar. I’ve found the order in which things are juiced makes no noticeable difference to the amount of pulp produced, lettuce or sweet potato for example, will both produce quite a lot of pulp regardless. If the pulp isn’t your cup of tea then it’s easy to sieve it or just feed the finished juice back through the machine.
Tip 4-Wash Up Immediately! (And tips for washing)
As soon as you have finished juicing disassemble everything and wash up right away, decant the juice into glasses or flasks and empty the pulp into the bin or a container if planning to cook with it later. Washing up straight away makes things so much easier. For washing the juicer use warm, NOT hot, water and you can use a regular washing up liquid but please do not use antibacterial washing up liquid, because these can cause unseen damage to the structure of the hard type of plastic the bowl is made from and believe me one day it will just crack into two halves. It sounds crazy but I have lost several food processor bowls this way. Not all antibacterial washing up liquids are clearly labelled as such, so be careful!
I recommend using Dr Bronner’s Sal Suds to clean all parts of the juicer with, it is very gentle and doesn’t damage the plastics and metals at all but gets rid of all food residues and pigments and prevents limescale build up and water marks. It also removes fine hazing and scratches. It seems expensive but you only need a few drops each time and the results are well worth it.
You can use the grey brush provided to clean the juicer but I find this brush has two flaws, the pointy end is actually quite scratchy and even with care, can result in scratches to the plastic, secondly it has a real weak point where there is a hole near the end of the brush handle and mine broke into two pieces due to this. Froothie have offered to replace the brush for free as soon as they get some new stock in their UK warehouse but I thought until then I would look for an alternative. I decided to try the avent baby bottle brush and it’s great, although the head is much bigger it does get into the small crevices and the bristles are gentle enough so as not to scratch anything, but tough enough to remove all the pulp bits with ease. It also has what I can only describe as a knobbly bit on the end of the handle which is the perfect size for cleaning out crevices, especially the pulp chute, without scratching it.
When you’ve finished washing dry gently with soft kitchen roll or a soft tea towel and leave somewhere to dry off properly.
N.B. When cleaning the wiper blade attachment make sure to remove the silicone wiper blades every so often for cleaning thoroughly though it isn’t needed to do this every time. Bear in mind there’s a right way and a wrong way up for the wiper blades, when I first received my juicer one of the wiper blades had been put in upside down in the factory resulting in a loose fit. I just couldn’t figure out why one blade seemed kind of ‘flappy’. Eventually I worked it out. Also when putting the wiper blades back in pull them as taut as they will go, by pulling the top edges up to the tip edge of the attachment and the bottom edges down likewise, otherwise they will be ineffective and prone to damage too.
I hope my tips have helped and I hope to blog again about juicing, soon!