Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fresh pressed: Homemade fruit juice

We've been on a homemade juice kick at my house. We picked up a juicer at Costco in early July and have been making cranking out homemade fruity (and sometimes vegetable) concoctions ever since. We've been working on injecting more fresh fruits and vegetables to our diets. Orange-mango juice is my current favorite. Pineappe-orange-strawberry is amazing. Pear-apple is pretty delish too. Carrots are surprisingly sweet and drinkable, and produce way more juice than you would imagine. Don't overthink it, try apple-carrot juice. A leaf of kale in fruit juice can turn the whole thing green, but the taste is still sweet and yummy. 

Why make juice?
  1. Homemade juice is packed with nutrients. Plus, there are no chemicals, preservatives or added sugars. Just the natural stuff you drop in the juicer. 
  2. You can make a mean martini with the juice of your favorite fruit. Try a grapefuit-tini.
  3. If you're the kind of person who takes a light breakfast, a tall glass of iced juice can really add a punch to your morning.
  4. Make lemonade out of lemons: It's easy to find out one bad apple literally did spoil the whole bunch in Alaska where our store-bought fruit isn't always the freshest. But you can salvage bruised, or less-than-crisp fruit and vegetables by making them into juice.
  5. It's SO much more delicious than the store-bought stuff. And think of how impressed your next out-of-town guests will be when you serve them fresh orange juice at breakfast.
The drawbacks?
  1. It's kind of a pain in the patootie to clean, but do it right away before any sticky pulp dries to make the job easier.
  2. All the pulp can be a menace to your sink, I recommend using one of those little drain screens you can pick up for about $2.
  3. Fresh fruit can be expensive, especially up here in the 49th state. Keep it on the cheap by adding just a small portion of exotic fruit favorites to bargain granny smith apples or ordinary oranges sold in bulk.
  4. It doesn't keep. The shelf life of fresh juice is only about three days, but you can avoid waste by only making what you'll drink right away.
  5. High calories and sugar. Remember, just because you drink it doesn't mean it doesn't count. If you're watching your calories, make sure you look up how many calories and natural sugars are packed into fresh fruit.
Random notes: 
 In case you take a stab at making juice yourself, there's a few weird things you might want to know.
  1. Homemade juice is thick, almost like a smoothy. Don't be afraid to water it down with a little mineral water and ice.
  2. It's frothy. Yep, you might see a weird foam on top. There's nothing wrong, but you can skim it off or use a straw if it bugs you.
  3. No pits. Don't ever put stems or pits in a juicer unless you like broken appliances. Then it's OK.
  4. No skins you wouldn't eat. Take a peeler to your oranges, grapefruits, mangoes, pineapples, etc. The white white of the orange is OK, but the actual orange-colored rind is bitter. Skins on apples, strawberries, plums, peaches, nectarines, etc. are fine. Don't waste your time peeling those.
  5. Grape stems are OK. Yep, there's an exception to every rule, and in juicing you can throw a whole bunch of grapes in -- still on the stem. There are nutrients in that stem. (Check instructions on your individual appliance to make sure it's grape-stem approved.)

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