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What was the first juicer ever made?

Juicing has become an incredibly popular way for health-conscious individuals to get their daily dose of fruits and vegetables. Freshly pressed juices made at home provide a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial plant nutrients. With cold-pressed juice bars popping up in cities across America and Europe, juicing is now a multi-billion dollar industry.

But juicing didn’t start as a commercial enterprise. Long before juicers were sold in stores, people were extracting juice from fruits and vegetables using manual tools and techniques. The origins of juicing can be traced back centuries to early civilizations that found creative ways to make the most of fresh produce.

Early Juicing Methods

Some of the first juicing methods didn’t require fancy equipment at all. People simply chewed produce like carrots and celery and then strained out the pulp with a piece of cloth. Others mashed or grated fruits and vegetables by hand and twisted them in cloth to extract the precious juice. Grapes were perhaps the easiest to juice by simply stomping them underfoot to release the liquid.

Over time, more sophisticated tools emerged to mechanize the juicing process. At first these were manual devices made from simple materials like wood and metal. Let’s take a look at some of the earliest juicing contraptions that paved the way for the juicers we know today.

Wooden Apple Presses

Apples have been enjoyed for thousands of years, and it didn’t take long for people to find ways to extract their flavorful juice. Some of the earliest apple juicers were wooden cider presses used to make the popular fermented drink.

These manual presses had a lever to grind and squeeze apples placed inside slatted wooden baskets. The knob-controlled lever allowed the user to apply pressure and crush the apples, forcing juice out into a waiting container below. This was hard physical labor but produced gallons of apple juice far faster than by hand.

Similar wooden cider presses are still used today, especially by homesteaders and hobbyists wanting to make small batches of freshly pressed apple cider. But most large-scale cider production has upgraded to more efficient hydraulic presses.

Lemon Squeezers

Citrus fruits like lemons contain a bounty of juice inside their rinds, and people through the ages have inventively extracted it. The first lemon squeezers appeared in Europe in the early 19th century and were simply made from wood or ivory.

These primitive devices had a slit down the middle where half a lemon was placed cut-side down. Users would manually squeeze the handles together to crush the fruit and collect the juice. It was a cleverly simple design that required no electricity or machine parts. This type of hinged lemon squeezer is still produced today as a vintage kitchen tool.

Hand-Cranked Juicers

The Industrial Revolution brought about more advanced juicer technology. With the advent of modern metalworking, machinists began developing hand-cranked juicers and apple grinders for home use. These mechanical juicers utilized gears, pulleys and cranks to efficiently grind produce and strain out juice faster than manual methods.

Cast iron or heavy metal was shaped into a grater surface to shred fruits and vegetables. Users would turn a crank to activate the grater while the food was held against it. Juice filtered through small holes into a reservoir, while the dry pomace was separated out. This mechanized the hardest work of juicing by hand but still required some elbow grease.

First Electric Juicers

By the early 20th century, electric juicers entered the market and started a juicing revolution in American households. One of the very first electric juicers was the Feeding-Devil juicer introduced in 1908. This novel appliance was promoted to aid in “healthful living” by making fresh fruit and vegetable juices easily available at home.

The Feeding-Devil juicer utilized a powerful electric motor to grind food and spin it at high speeds. Centrifugal force separated juice from pulp through a perforated strainer, a common juicing mechanism still used today. It could churn out pints of juice fast and without any manual cranking required. Marketed as “the queen of juicers”, it was the most efficient appliance yet for home juicing.

Modern Juicing Machines

Once the possibilities of electric juicing were realized, competitors raced to develop ever more advanced juicers. Jack LaLanne designed one of the earliest centrifugal juicers in the 1930s which helped introduce daily juicing for health benefits. Twin-gear masticating juicers were invented in the 1950s, offering slower and gentler juice extraction. More innovations followed like citrus press juicers, wheatgrass juicers, and motorized presses.

Cold press or slow juicers were introduced in the 1970s and became popular decades later for preserving more nutrients. Some features of the first juicers are still found on models today, like stainless steel strainers, adjustable pulp screens and centrifugal spinning mechanisms. But modern juicers are far superior in juice yields, efficiency, speed, safety and design.

Today there is an entire spectrum of juicers from entry-level to commercial grade. They run from $20 plastic centrifugal juicers to $2000 metal masticators built to juice pounds of produce daily. Juicer buyers now have an enormous range of options to suit any budget and juicing needs.

Notable Early Juicer Models

Here is a summary of a few iconic juicers that paved the way for the machines we use today:

Juicer Year Features
Feeding-Devil Juicer 1908 First electric juicer using centrifugal grinding
Champion Juicer 1955 Durable motorized press juicer
Acme Supreme Juicerator 1974 Efficient twin-gear masticating juicer
Green Power Juicer 1978 Early prototype of cold press juicers
Hurom Slow Juicer 1998 Modern vertical cold press juicer

Conclusion

Juicing has ancient roots as a way to enjoy fresh produce and preserve nutrients. What started as simple hand squeezing and pressing evolved into lever-operated wooden devices. The advent of metalworking enabled more complex mechanical juicers powered by gears and cranks. But it wasn’t until electricity that juicers really took off and became household staples.

Over a hundred years of ingenuity has brought us the efficient and versatile juicers we use today. While styles and technologies have changed, the goal remains the same – easily harnessing the goodness of fruits and veggies in liquid form. So whether you juice with a hand press or a $2000 machine, you’re taking part in an ancient and healthful tradition with a surprisingly long history.