Just like our clients, our staff here at The International Kitchen are keen home cooks who are always up for learning something new in the kitchen, whether it be through a cooking class or a YouTube tutorial. Lately I have been geeking out on juicing which, I’m told, is all the rage these days.
Like all food fads I’m sure that juicing’s health benefits are to some degree over-hyped. Nonetheless, there is something to be said for taking a big pile of fruits and vegetables and turning them into a tasty, easy-to-consume glass of fresh squeezed juice. I mean, there has to something healthy about that, right? If nothing else, making your own fresh juice at home has two big benefits.
First and foremost, most juices sold in stores contain huge amounts of refined sugar, and as we are increasingly learning, too much sugar is bad for us in so many ways. Second, store-bought juices are usually pasteurized to increase their shelf life. Heating the juice during pasteurization degrades a lot of the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that make it healthy in the first place, leaving you with a bottle of sugar water.
If you are like me and find that it takes an extreme act of willpower to get your recommended daily intake of fruits and veg (and lets be honest, who among us actually does?) here are a few tips to get you started juicing.
1) Decide what kinds of produce you want to juice.
Leafy greens, fruits, root vegetables? Not all juicers are suited to juice all produce. The type of juicer most people are familiar with consists of a metal blade spinning at high speed, upwards of 10,000 RPM in some models. This type of juicer is known as a centrifugal juicer and works well for fruits and root vegetables, but not very well for leafy greens like kale or wheat grass. The upside of centrifugal juicers is that they work fast, are relatively inexpensive, and are easy to clean. The downside is that their high RPM aerates the juice, thereby oxidizing the plant enzymes you are trying to drink and producing a lot of foam in the process.
Enter masticating juicers, the new kids on the block. Also called slow juicers because of their low RPM (as low as 47 RPM compared to 10,000), masticating juicers work by slowly crushing the produce and squeezing out the juice in the process. Masticating juicers can juice fruits and root vegetables just as well as their centrifugal counterparts, but are much better at leafy greens. Plus, they aerate the juice less while producing a much higher yield. However, and this is important, they work very slowly and take more time to clean afterward. So if speed and convenience are important for you a masticating juicer might not be the way to go.
2) Only juice fresh produce.
This tip might seem obvious — as our cooking class chefs will always tell you ‘fresh is best’ — but it is crucial. You want fresh, firm, bouncy produce. This is especially important when it comes to fruit because with some fruit, say a pear, you normally want to let it ripen and soften a bit before biting in to it. When juicing though you want that pear to be firm. The fresher the produce the brighter the flavors and the better the yield. You will see the freshness in the color of your juice and taste it in the purity of its flavors.
3) The sooner you drink it the better.
Oxygen plus time will degrade the healthy plant enzymes and other compounds your juicer has just extracted for you. Fresh juice is healthiest the same day that it’s made. You can store it in the fridge of course, but do so in a sealed container just to slow the rate of oxidation. Think of how an apple begins to turn brown after you’ve bitten into it. The same thing begins to happen to your juice after it’s made.
4) Get creative!
Yes, there are recipes to follow, but it’s a lot more fun to experiment and come up with your own flavors. I only started juicing a few weeks ago and have yet to follow a recipe. Trust your instincts. Toss in a couple pieces of fruit to add natural sugars that will make even a glass full of lettuce taste good. Not that you’d want to drink a glass full of lettuce, but you get the idea. Here’s what I put into the juice pictured: ginger, cucumber, grapes, strawberries, celery, pear, beets, kale, swiss chard, and romaine lettuce. It was my best juice yet!
By Adrian Hall
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