Tefal Infiny Press Revolution (ZC500H40)
First we need to distinguish between juicing machines and blenders like the heavily advertised NutriBullet. Blenders use fast spinning sharp blades to mash up your fruit and veg with water. The mixture of water, fibre and juice this produces will be nourishing, but because of the dilation the resulting drink is less nutritious per gram than eating the original material.
The idea behind a juicer is to concentrate the nutrition by extracting the juice from the fibre. Fibre is good stuff, and your body needs it, but not in the quantity you'd have to absorb if you want to gain maximum nutrition.
There are two main kinds of juicer. Powerful and usually noisy, centrifugal juicers first chop the material very fine with fast spinning blades and then throw it against a kind of rapidly rotating "wall of death" to sieve out the juice. The Infiny, like my Korean juicer, operates on a very different principle: it's a macerating juicer using a slowly rotating screw-threaded auger to break up the incoming material and then crush it against a fine metal mesh, squeezing out the juice under great pressure.
Tefal (not to be confused with the German nudist association pioneered in 1914 by Richard Ungewitter) is a well-established French manufacturer of household equipment, famous for its non-stick lightweight frying pans (the company's name is a portmanteau of TEFlon and ALuminium). Their new macerating juicer, called the Infiny Press Revolution claims to deliver 35% more juice, 30% more vitamin C and 75% more antioxidants than the company's own 1000W ZN650 centrifugal juicer. One of the acknowledged problems with centrifugal juicers is that the heat produced by fine chopping and spinning can deactivate much of the nutrient value, although this is minimised in more recent designs.
With its retro-futurist black and champagne styling the Infiny wouldn't be out of place in a Tom Baker era TARDIS. Fully assembled it sits on your worktop about 45cms high, weighing in at around 4Kg. Fruit and vegetables are fed in through three tubes set into the lid. A large illuminated round button down on the right hand side of the base starts the motor (provided the safety lock mechanism that secures the food-feed lid has clicked into place), and will turn red, stopping the action, if the machine jams.
The recipe book supplied with the kit was the first thing that worried me. It's very heavily biassed towards soft fruit drinks - 16 out of the 20 recipes were almost entirely fruit based. Nutritionist now warn us about concentrated fruit drinks - the high sugar content, although "natural", is still sugar and if you're in the market for a juicer you're probably in the demographic that's already taking in too much of the stuff. In making my own juices I always try to mix fruit and veg on an equal basis. Yes, the taste of beetroot and celery in your orange juice may take some getting used to, but the re-education of your palette is an essential part of the process.
For my first test run I weighed out two equal 700g batches of peeled and cut carrots, and fed the first batch into my familiar Korean juicer. Two minutes later I had 250 ml of pure carrot juice. When I repeated the same exercise with the new Tefal Infiny juicer I ended up with a mere 100 ml of carrot juice, a procedure that took nearly 12 minutes.
The main problem was jamming. I'd long ago discovered that hard root vegetables can jam a macerating juicer, and had got into the habit of cutting the larger carrots in half lengthwise. Even so, when feeding these into my Korean machine during this first test, it did once shudder to a halt. The procedure for unjamming is simple: use the three-way rocker switch that controls the power to put the motor into reverse for a moment, then back into forward and carry on, making mental note to cut slightly smaller carrot sticks in future.
When it was the Infiny's turn, the similarly sized carrot sticks jammed the machine not once but five times. But the Infiny has no motor reverse mechanism. Here's how the manual suggest you handle this:
If your appliance "jams" during operation, switch off, disconnect from the power supply and check that it is not overloaded with ingredients. Carefully remove any obstructions before reconnecting.
In each case "carefully removing any obstructions" involved taking off the food-feed lid, jerking out the jammed auger (sending bits of mangled carrot flying across the kitchen worktop) and then rinsing out the various parts of the machine under the tap so that they could be assembled again. The fact that I had to carry out this procedure five times accounts for the extended length of the run, and the very poor amount of juice that resulted.
In fairness I conducted the test again the following day, cutting the Infany's carrots much smaller this time, quartering each one lengthwise, and feeding in only one thin stick at a time.
Yet the machine stopped five times again on this run. I'm not sure these were jams - it may be that the machine's safety mechanism kept cutting out as the top cover worked loose due to vibration. It was certainly easier to get going again, usually just by removing the food-feed lid and tightening it up again, although I did once have to delve in to remove a chunk of carrot.
In all, the run took a fraction under 4 minutes to produce 200ml of juice from 700g of carrots: taking twice the time of my Korean machine to produce one-fifth less juice. It's possible that with more use I might find a way to reduce the Infiny's start-stop problems. This would speed up production but probably wouldn't improve juice output.
As well as the Infiny's lack of a reverse mechanism there are two other crucial design differences. All my Korean machine's components that touch the food and waste can be lifted clear of the base that houses the motor. So the post-job cleaning procedure consists of rinsing the components under the tap and then, if needed, wiping down the base with a damp cloth.
With the Infiny, the base forms the final section of the waste outlet, and this needs to be cleaned out to remove the last of the debris. You can't, of course, rinse the base under the tap. It's a minor point, but it means that the clean-up procedure is a little messier.
The other design difference is much more significant. The Infiny's auger is considerably lighter, weighing only 337g as opposed to the Korean auger's 434g. This difference is also reflected in the power of the two machines: the Korean machine runs at 800W: the Tefal is just 300W. I wondered if this was the reason for the recipe book's heavy emphasis on soft fruit over hard vegetables.
Now that I felt I understood the Infiny better I decided to ignore comparisons with my heavy-weight Korean juicer and try to assess the Tefal device on its own merits. Sadly, my third and last run was a disaster. This time I mixed carrots, celery, beetroot and tomatoes with a modicum of root ginger and lime, precutting everything to less than half the size I would use normally, out of deference to the 300W power limitation. Nevertheless, the Infiny jammed solid on a small segment of celery, and required complete dismantling to unblock it.
I'd had enough. I cleaned it up and put it all back in the box. I really had been hoping to be able to recommend the half-price Tefal Infiny to friends impressed by my own Korean juicer. Sorry.
In a world where millions are starving (and here in the UK where food banks are in the news) it seems perverse to discuss machines whose sole job is to turn a dinner table brimming with fruit and vegetables into a few glasses of concentrated juice. But if you want a macerating juicer (and I certainly wouldn't be without mine) and you're not too bothered about going easy on the vegetables, the Tefal Infiny might just do the job. But you'd have to be a lot more patient than I've been.
|add to del.icio.us||Digg this review|