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What we bought: The Breville Juice Fountain Plus is a surprisingly useful jet engine

It could wring blood from a stone.

Photo by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

My dad bought me Breville’s Juice Fountain for a very specific purpose: to recreate the horse’s neck cocktail he’d enjoyed on a snowy evening at the High West distillery saloon in Utah. The drink calls for a quarter ounce of ginger juice, and if you’ve ever seen a knotty clump of said root, it doesn’t look like it would contain much liquid. That’s where the Fountain comes in – it extracts a waterfall from seemingly parched produce like it’s squishing grapes.

I make ginger juice in bigger batches, getting about five liquid ounces from eight ounces of ginger. Weight-to-volume conversions aside, that’s a pretty great ratio. It lasts a week or two in the fridge, so I can get a lot of horse’s necks out of a juicing session. The cocktail itself is bright, warming and spicy – and possibly my favorite tipple.

But I’m not drinking as much these days, so I’ve been using the Juice Fountain for healthier stuff that doesn't have bourbon in it… like straight juice. At first, I turned to the internet for recipes, but pretty quickly learned that throwing in whatever sounds good tends to have the best results. Carrot, ginger, lemon and orange together make something sweet and zesty that tastes and looks like a sunrise. Apple, kale, celery and lemon make a vivid green drink that reminds me of spring and feels like you’re drinking a cup of vitamins — if a cup of vitamins were delicious.

A pitcher and two cups sit on a brown wooden table outside. They are filled with green juice made from kale, apples and celery.
Photo by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

The appliance has two speeds: high for harder vegetables and low for softer fruit. Besides picking a speed, the only prep you need to do is to wash all ingredients and remove the peel and pith on citrus — no need to scrape the skin off ginger or remove the stalks from kale. Apples can even go in whole, as long as they fit down the impressively wide chute (though I usually core mine, out of an irrational cyanide paranoia).

Once the fruits and vegetables go in, the Fountain transforms them into juice in seconds, absolutely obliterating them with what I can only assume is a tiny jet-engine. Seriously, it sounds like an aircraft readying itself for takeoff; this is a daylight hours-only kind of machine. The motor is so powerful and the mesh/graters so robust that just the weight of a carrot or cucumber itself is usually enough to run it through the extractor. Even leafy kale only needs a light push from the plunger.

So yes, it does a great job of getting the most out of each piece of produce, but juicing still isn’t cheap. A big bunch of organic carrots and a few oranges quickly turn into a lovely neon drink, but there might be $6 worth of produce swimming in that cup. But hey, if it means my kid will drink eight ounces of a kelly green apple/kale concoction and ask for more, it’s worth it in my book.

When I first saw it, I was convinced the Fountain would be something I’d use once and never again after the tedium of washing its various intricate parts. And it does break down into quite a few pieces (seven to be exact), but taking it apart and putting it back together is completely intuitive. I don’t think I looked at the instructions since the first disassembly.

Cleaning the components isn’t hard either – as long as you do it immediately. If you wait until the pulp bits and juice spray have hardened, you’ll have to put in some muscle and fuss to get it sparkly again. The hardest part to wash is probably the mesh-and-grate extraction basket. Breville supplies a scrub brush for the job, but I promptly lost that. Turns out a standard dish brush and warm, soapy water do a great job of removing apple, carrot and all other remnants. A few of the parts are dishwasher safe, but others aren’t. I figure if I have to hand-wash some, I may as well do them all.

The Breville juice fountain plus sits on a countertop. It has just been used to make an orange drink from carrots and oranges. Lots of pulp covers the inner dome of the juicer.
Photo by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

The only other thing that gave me pause was the pulp. Liquid health pours from one side of the machine, but a pile of fluffy plant matter kicks out the other. The first time I saw it I had to wonder what the heck I was supposed to do with all of that. I tried a few muffin recipes that call for juicer pulp, but they didn’t turn out well. (I blame my baking skills, not the directions.) I still believe I’ll find something that works, but I have to experiment more.

So far, my favorite solution is adding the fluff to my weekly batch of breakfast smoothies. My advice if you do the same: don’t include any ginger pulp – if you do, it’ll be the only thing you taste. Citrus leftovers are also pretty overbearing and bitter. Fluff from apple, celery and carrots have the most neutral flavor and go nicely in a morning shake. Of course, I still always have way more byproduct than I could possibly use, so I just compost the rest.

At $180, it’s not the cheapest kitchen appliance you can buy, but it’s far from the most expensive. Even though mine was a gift, I feel like it’s worth its price tag. Design-wise, the Fountain follows the silvery, matte aesthetic Breville tends to give its kitchen appliances, a look that’s neither too modern or overly retro. It has lovely curves and a graceful, tower-like profile. But thanks to the aforementioned jet engine, the Fountain isn’t small. My tiny kitchen has no space to store it on the countertop, so when it’s not doing its juice thing, it lives up in a cupboard. Honestly, it’s a pain to get down. But I’m happy (and healthier) every time I do.