03 May 2010
How to juice
The most essential piece of equipment for any juice novice is a juicing machine - this is not the same as a blender, liquidizer or food processor (although some food processors may have a juicing attachment). A juicer separates the juice from the fibrous pulp, creating a smooth liquid, whereas a blender or liquidizer simply purees both fibre and juice together. You can juice by hand, but it's laborious to say the least!
Choosing a Juicer
To get the best value from your juicer, it should be able to juice most fruits and vegetables. You might be told that a juicer can't handle citrus fruits - but that's just because they won't turn out like the 'freshly squeezed' varieties you can buy in supermarkets. Instead they look much thicker and creamier, because they include the valuable white pith that surrounds the fruit. With a cheaper juicer you might have trouble juicing stringy produce like bean sprouts, alfalfa and parsley - so if you want to be able to juice absolutely anything it's better to pay the premium for a more sophisticated model.
Make sure that whichever juicer you buy, it's easy to clean and simple to put together. There's nothing worse than facing a physical and mental assault course every time you fancy a juice. In addition, ensure that the electrics are safely encased, as there will be a lot of liquid passing through the equipment.
Prices range from reasonable to very expensive, but if you're just starting out, it's probably wise to buy at the cheaper end of the range, just in case (and it's highly unlikely!) you discover juicing isn't for you. Investment in a better model is always possible later on. Let's see what's available.
These models are at the lower end of the price scale. They are electrically powered and work by grating fruits and vegetables, then spinning them rapidly to separate juice from fibrous pulp. The juice then runs through an outlet into a jug, and the pulp is ejected into a separate container. Centrifugal juicers cannot handle a huge amount of produce all at once, and must be kept clean, or they clog up with pulp. They produce thick, creamy juice and wet pulp. They are not as juice-efficient as some of the more sophisticated models.
Nose-Cone Pressure or Masticating Juicers
These models extract a greater quantity of juice from produce than centrifugal juicers because they put much more pressure on the fruits and vegetables. Rather than grating produce, they chop or chum it, then ram the resulting pulp into a mesh nose-cone from where the juice is forced out. Nose-cone juicers can be electrically or manually powered (when a lever system is incorporated). They tend to be able to cope better with the tougher produce such as rinds, stalks, and very hard vegetables; as a result they are usually more expensive than centrifugal models.
Hydraulic Juice Presses
Juice presses are the most efficient of all at extracting juice. This is because they can bring to bear the pressure of between three and five tons on your chosen fruits and vegetables. The press is brought down on the produce and the juice filters out through a fine cloth; the end pulp is reduced to a cardboard consistency (not much good for anything but compost). Hydraulic presses can be electrically powered or manual, but the former is extremely expensive. Nevertheless, the juice extracted from the press method is the most nutritionally complete of all the juices.
If you realty don't like the thick juice that a juicing machine produces from oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit, then you can use a citrus squeezer for clearer, thinner juice. You can buy a simple glass or plastic squeezer, or invest in an electric squeezer if you have trouble gripping the fruit tightly enough (those with arthritis or rheumatism may find electric models helpful).
Juicing by Hand
For hand juicing you'll need a grater, a bowl, a fine sieve and some muslin or specially designed juice cloths. Here's how you do it:
- Grate your chosen fruit or vegetable into a bowl.
- Place the grated produce in the middle of a square piece of muslin (or juice cloth). Gather the edges into a bundle, and squeeze the contents hard over a bowl.
- For an extra filtration process, tip the juice through a fine sieve into a bowl. It is then ready to drink.
Once you have your juicer, you will probably need and find useful:
- a hard-bristle scrubbing brush to remove dirt from vegetable and fruit skins about to be juiced
- weighing scales to measure out produce
- a chopping board
- a sharp knife capable of cutting very hard vegetables
- a peeler
- a plastic/glass measuring jug indicating fluid ounces and millilitres
- a large jug for storing juice
- cling film to keep stored juice airtight
- a blender for mixing juices with fruit purees, yoghurt, milk, water, honey and other extras
- a fine mesh sieve for straining juice if it seems 'bitty'
- an apron to avoid splashing your clothes with vividly coloured juice
Cleaning While Juicing
If you are making a lot of juice, clean the juicer once or twice under running water to remove unnecessary pulp. If you have put a very pungent or colourful fruit or vegetable through the juicer, run a little water through the opening to cleanse the innards of the machine, or chop up some apple and put that through the juicer. Both these methods prevent subsequent juices from being discoloured or tasting odd.
Looking After Your Juicer
Once you have finished with your juicer for the day, make sure it is scrupulously clean and dry, or you may get bugs making the pulp container into a comfy home. Every once in a while give it a thorough clean with a little bleach, to rid the plastic of any juice stains that might have collected. The better you treat your juicer, the longer it will last.