Market Musings Blog

Juicing for the FUN of it!

If you’re fond of juices, smoothies, or any of Mississippi Market’s other juice bar drinks, you already know how intense, healthful, even playful they are. These are terrific arguments for bringing juicing home.  And what better time to try it than National Juice Week?

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, the only machines capable of pulling juice out of, say, kale or carrots were the Omega, the Champion, and the Acme. Each of them was the size of a washtub and the price of a washing machine, so only the truly dedicated acquired them. Then the smoothie came along, and it was just as happy being made in a $20 blender as a top-of-the-line juicer. Even more recently, true juicers have shrunk in size and become significantly cheaper, smaller, and lighter. Short of extracting the oil from flaxseed, there isn’t much you can’t juice nowadays with a small, inexpensive device.

The returns on doing so are sizable. If, say, one of your goals is to consume four cups of leafy raw vegetables and three of fruit every day, you’re likely to spend most of your time grazing—unless you concentrate those vegetables or fruits into liquid form. You consume all of the benefits of those many cups of fruits and vegetables in one or two tasty, frosty glasses. And because juicing doesn’t heat up vegetables and fruits significantly, their food value isn’t lost. What’s not to like?

That said, here are a few things to factor in when you contemplate juicing and smoothie making at home.

Once you’ve broken down the cell walls in fruits and vegetables, their juice and pulp oxidize rapidly, so don’t juice more than you can drink immediately. If you do have leftovers, store them in glass jars filled to the brim to exclude air, and use food-grade plastic lids to seal them up. Keep these in the fridge for no longer than a day—once you’ve broken them down mechanically in the blender or juicer, fruits’ and vegetables’ own enzymes complete the decomposition.

Focus on flavor
The simplest way to start juicing is to use a liquid base you already enjoy: for example, tomato juice, apple cider, pineapple juice, or orange juice. Add a small handful each of one or two vegetables or fruits that complement the flavor of your base. You’ll create more appealing juices when you limit flavors to only a few.

Play with color
Juicing is a terrific form of adult play: do it the way kids do—by color. If you want a purple drink, add blueberries; if you want a magenta one, add some beets. Several different berries (for example, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries) create a dazzling, bright purply-red juice. Bright green? Add lacinato kale or spinach. Mix-and-match fruits and vegetables: if you add only small amounts of, say, spinach, you’ll achieve spring green but not a pronounced spinach flavor. Remember that adding a wide variety of colors produces a not very appetizing brown.

Don’t forget frozen fruits
Admittedly, we have a fairly limited range of fresh fruits available here in the Twin Cities in winter. Happily, juicing works just as well using frozen instead of fresh fruits. And now Stahlbush’s wonderful frozen organic berries are available in 5-pound Ziploc bags for all us committed daily juicers.

Play with texture
If you want your juice to have a silky, super-smooth texture, add a few slices of banana, avocado, or mango (frozen or fresh): these are guaranteed to knit the disparate textures together in a satin-y mouthfeel. If you want a more open texture, or a granita-like one, add unsweetened yogurt or an ice cube (lassi time!).

Gilding the lily
Add a spice or herb that complements the base and/or the added fruits or vegetables. Be conscious of the acidity (or lack of it) in your concoction: almost any juice brightens up considerably with a bit of acidity, whether that comes from the base (for example, orange juice), the fruits or vegetables you add, or a final squeeze of lemon or dollop of unsweetened yogurt.

Name it
You’ve produced something memorable—now you deserve naming rights!
The truth is, it’s pretty hard to make a lousy juice or smoothie. Here are several tried-and-true basics with knockout flavor and color. Send us yours, and we’ll add them here.

Each of the recipes below makes about 12 oz.

Magenta Mango
8 oz. apple cider
6 frozen strawberries
¼ c. frozen mango chunks
¼ c. frozen blackberries
Buzz in blender until thick and homogeneous or run through your juicer.

Hot Orange
8 oz. orange juice
3 small, sweet carrots, cut into 1” slices
1–2 inches of ginger, peeled
1 Tbs. honey

Buzz in blender until thick and homogeneous or run through your juicer.

Green Dragon
8 oz. lemonade
3 leaves of lacinato kale, stem removed, or handful of spinach
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cored
½ tsp. ground cardamom or ginger

Buzz in blender until thick and homogeneous or run through your juicer.

Winter Hot Tomato
5 Muir Glen organic plum tomatoes, squeezed out (to remove seeds)
½ red sweet pepper, seeds and pith removed
½–1 tsp. Spanish smoked hot paprika (pimentón) or Sriracha sauce to taste
2 scallions
tomato juice from Muir Glen, to taste
sea salt to taste
squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Buzz in blender until thick and homogeneous or run through your juicer.

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