What is a manual citrus press juicer for?

A manual citrus press juicer is a simple kitchen tool used to extract juice from citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits. Unlike electric juicers, a manual press relies entirely on arm strength to squeeze the juice out of the fruit. The basic mechanism involves placing a halved citrus fruit on the press, then pulling down the lever to compress and crush the fruit. The juice runs out through small holes in the bottom of the press while the pulp and seeds are retained inside.

Benefits of a Manual Citrus Press

There are several advantages to using a manual citrus press rather than an electric juicer:

  • Cost – Manual presses are much more affordable than most electric juicers. A simple cast iron or plastic press can cost as little as $10-20.
  • Compact size – A manual press takes up very little storage space and is easy to stash in a kitchen drawer or cupboard.
  • Easy to clean – With just a few parts, a manual citrus press is simple to rinse off after each use.
  • Versatile – A press can juice all types of citrus fruits, from small limes to large grapefruits.
  • Flavor – Enthusiasts argue that manual pressing results in fresher, better tasting juice compared to electric juicing.
  • Control – A manual press allows you to press lightly for juicier fruit or harder for maximum yield.
  • No electricity required – A press requires no power source, making it useful during camping trips or power outages.

Types of Manual Citrus Presses

There are a few common styles of manual citrus presses:

Handheld Squeezers

These are small, compact squeezing devices designed to juice a single orange, lemon, or lime at a time. They typically have a hinged handle that compresses fruit squeezed inside a cone-shaped chamber. Handheld squeezers are extremely affordable and portable.

Tabletop Presses

Larger and sturdier than handheld models, tabletop presses are designed to stay in one spot on your kitchen counter or table. They generally feature a cast iron or enamel coated steel construction with a lever arm to lower down onto the fruit. Tabletop presses allow juicing of multiple fruits at once.

Clamp Style Presses

This style of press uses a clamp mechanism to squeeze the fruit. The fruit is placed between two metal plates or bowls, which compress when the clamp is tightened. Clamp presses efficiently extract juice and feature a heavy duty build.

Wooden Reamers

Simple and old-fashioned, a wooden reamer is inserted into a halved citrus fruit and twisted to release juice. Reamers are affordable and compact tools but require more physical effort than other press styles.

How to Use a Manual Citrus Press

Using a manual citrus press is very straightforward. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Cut the citrus fruit in half horizontally through the center.
  2. Place the fruit half cut side down onto the press, centering it over the juicing mechanism.
  3. Gently lower the lever arm or handle down onto the fruit, applying light pressure at first.
  4. Continue lowering the pressing arm while bearing down to squeeze the juice out of the fruit.
  5. Lift the press handle up and remove the spent fruit half.
  6. Pour the extracted juice through a strainer into a glass or pitcher.
  7. Repeat steps with remaining citrus halves.
  8. Give the press a quick rinse under water after finishing juicing.

Tips for getting the maximum amount of juice:

  • Roll the fruit vigorously on a hard surface before cutting to help break down the interior pulp.
  • Press slowly and firmly to fully crush the fruit interior.
  • Give a final extra press at the end to get all the juice out.
  • Stir or ream the pulp while pressing to extract more liquid.

Cleaning and Maintaining a Manual Citrus Press

With just a few parts, a manual citrus press is simple to keep clean. Here are some tips:

  • Rinse the press under running water after each use to remove residue.
  • Wash all parts with warm soapy water and a sponge or brush periodically.
  • Check for clogs in juice spouts and holes. Clear them with a toothpick if needed.
  • Dry the press thoroughly after washing to prevent mold or rusting.
  • Avoid abrasive scouring pads, which can scratch the pressing surface.
  • For wooden reamers, periodically rub with cooking oil to condition the wood.
  • Disassemble clamp style presses and lubricate hinges or threads as needed.

Troubleshooting Common Manual Press Problems

Problem Possible Cause Solution
Not extracting much juice Fruit is not fresh; pulp is dry Use freshly picked, in-season citrus
Pressing too lightly Press fruit firmly and slowly
Juice spout holes are clogged Clear holes with a toothpick
Leaking juice Fruit is unevenly placed Center fruit on press evenly
Press has worn or damaged parts Inspect and replace worn parts
Loose handle or arm Loose or missing screws Tighten screws securely
Worn out hinge Lubricate or replace hinge

Recipes Using Freshly Squeezed Citrus Juice

Fresh citrus juice from a manual press is delicious on its own, but also shines when used to make refreshing homemade drinks and recipes like:

  • Lemonade or limeade
  • Orange juice
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Frozen lemon or lime slushies
  • Mojitos, margaritas, and citrus cocktails
  • Citrus vinaigrettes and salad dressings
  • Marinades and sauces for fish or poultry
  • Key lime pie
  • Lemon bars or lemon cake
  • Lemon or lime curd
  • Fruit sorbets
  • Sangria or fruit punch


A manual citrus press is an incredibly useful kitchen tool for any home cook. These simple mechanical presses provide a fast, easy, and affordable way to get fresh citrus juice with just a little elbow grease. From small handheld squeezers to larger clamp presses, there is a manual juicer suited for any kitchen. With a bit of knowledge on usage, cleaning, and troubleshooting, a quality manual press should provide many years of flavorful service.

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