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*(After five months' use, the on/off switch and safety locking mechanism on this juicer developed a fault. When switched on, sparks were visible behind the switch and there was a strong smell of burning. Also, and potentially dangerously, the motor was able to run, despite the lid not being locked in place. In view of this worrying fault, I have revised the star rating from four to three.)
“The way you squeeze my lemon, I’m gonna fall right out of bed,” sang Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant back in 1969, demonstrating the perils of inept juice extraction. And Lord only knows why he and his partner were trying to make a healthy drink in the bedroom. If only they’d had a modern, efficient juice extractor like the Magimix Le Duo.
I’ve had mine for a couple of months. So I’m confident it’s unlikely to join the once-used and swiftly-abandoned pasta maker, sandwich toaster and Henry Cooper footspa in the back of the kitchen cupboard. It has proved itself a sturdy, well-designed and indispensable source of fresh and interesting drinks.
Like, I guess, most other juicer bores, I was tempted by the idea of ingesting extra nutrients while avoiding much of the tiresome peeling, chewing or lubrication involved in getting fruit and vegetables inside me. I chose Magimix mainly because this French manufacturer’s food processors and other kitchen gadgets have a reputation for no-frills reliability and build quality. Even better, their products bear no sign of endorsement by Anthony Worrall Thompson.
The Le Duo lives up to this reputation. The heart of the machine is a base unit about seven inches in diameter containing a 250-watt induction motor (this means it weighs a hefty nine pounds). The plastic-coated motor spindle sticks out of the top. A middle section with a metal spout sits on top of the base to collect and deliver the juice. Onto this you can mount one of two (hence the name Le Duo) business-ends: either the citrus press or the extractor basket.
The latter is a three-inch high drum with a perforated metal sidewall. Its steel base has concentric rings of very small piranha-like teeth. You lock the clear plastic domed lid with its feeder tube on top of it, flick the single on-off switch, and you’re ready to juice. The motor runs at high speed with a low hum. What those little teeth do to the hapless fruit and veg would delight any Bond villain. They literally shred them in seconds with a noise like an angle-grinder tearing into concrete. The centrifugal force flings these shreds onto the sidewall of the extractor basket, squeezing their juices through the mesh and into the central bowl.
If you’re using the citrus press, this black plastic sieve-like unit simply turns and clicks onto the bowl in place of the extractor basket. You have a choice of two plastic cones which fit on top of the spindle. The smaller one will do lemons or limes. For anything bigger, the larger cone sits directly over the smaller one. You have to make sure it goes entirely inside though: as we found to our cost, if the outer cone sits slightly too high, it comes into catastrophic contact with the arm which presses the fruit onto the cone, and you have lots of black plastic crumbs in your orange juice.
Compared to other machines and techniques for making citrus juices, this machine is extremely efficient. Small amounts of fruit pulp do make their way into your glass, which may deter fussy kids. But very little is left in the skin of the fruit. Likewise, the juice extractor removes a very large proportion of the juice, leaving an almost dry residue clinging to the inside of the drum.
There, of course, hangs the big drawback of any such machine: cleaning it after use. The Le Duo is like, I suspect, most such machines in that cleaning is a chore. The makers supply a plastic spatula to scoop the pulp from the drum, but you still need to do a fair amount of brushing and rinsing to get it all out. Even in a dishwasher you’re going to have problems, as the lip on the top of the drum will stop the water jets getting right inside. The middle bowl of the machine and the citrus press do rinse fairly easily, and the spout hinges for easier cleaning.
That aside, the machine is a pleasure to use. I mostly make orange juice with it. But I have tried combining vegetables such as carrots, celery, tomatoes, peppers and even beetroot (earthy, but surprisingly sweet). The waste-hating eco-worrier in me has even tried incorporating the leftover vegetable shreds into pasta sauces with some success.
Apples, especially firm ones like Granny Smith, produce lots of lovely sweet juice. Kiwi fruits, and even banana can yield up a slightly more purée-like result. The machine comes with a wiro-bound recipe book to give you more ideas and some rather basic-to-useless nutritional information.
My only quibbles with the machine are that you still have to cut most fruit and veg into small pieces to fit them down the feeder tube. They even recommend that you put strawberries and other small berries through a food processor first! Also, the spout is only five inches above the bottom of the base, so you can fit only relatively small glasses under it. A good idea would be some sort of tap mechanism on the spout for the times when the glass threatens to overflow, or if you want to leave the machine without it dripping.
My model is tasteful white plastic. You can get one with a chrome finish for an extra £20 which makes it look like an cheapo ice bucket on the bar of a seedy club. They also do them in rather yucky pastel green and yellow.
The only other main drawback for most would be the price. Le Duo sells for £100. Other makes of juicer are half this price or less, although Russell Hobbs do a more powerful one for about £20 more. But Magimix probably give you the best machine in this price bracket, with guarantees of 12 years on the motor and and three years for the other parts. As Robert Plant might say, that’s a whole lotta juicer.