One glass of juice counts towards your five-to-ten-a-day, can lower your blood pressure and improve your digestion among many other health benefits. Fresh juice can be highly nutritious, tasty and refreshing, especially if you’ve made it yourself. But what does each glass really contain from a nutritional perspective and what type of juicer should you buy?
Juicing isn’t for everyone as there can be a lot of preparation to do as well as cleaning up afterwards; not to mention unless you are ‘shopping smart’ the cost of fruit and vegetables can add up. Personally I have just gotten into the habit of juicing in the last six months since becoming involved with Vegibox and having more produce to use up than I would have been buying otherwise. Juicing is not only fun, nutritious and addictive, it is a great way to ingest my least favourite veggies when paired with some ripe fruit or other taste enhancers.
Yard sales, thrift stores or the online classifieds may be places to get your first juicer to see how often you will use it. I borrowed a juicer to get started and then bought two of my own; a new one and a used one in case the new one quit. That’s how serious I am about my fresh daily juice. Watching for specials will help – I got my new one here in Nakusp at 50 per cent off.
There are many types of juicers available, varying in both quality and price. The two main categories are centrifugal or masticating. How they get the job done is what makes them different. The centrifugal juicer may be an appropriate start for beginners and certainly preferable to not juicing at all, if other models are unaffordable. However, a cold press juicer (also known as a masticating or slow juicer) will definitely produce a superior quality juice and allow you to extract more from your fruit and vegetables, upping nutritional properties and producing less waste.
Centrifugal juicers extract the juice by pulverizing fruit and vegetables against a round cutting blade that spins very quickly against a metal strainer. The centrifugal force generated by the spinning motion of the cutting surface separates the juice from the pulp. They are cheaper but noisier, smaller, and easier to store as well as readily available in many retail stores. Heavier, more expensive, and quieter masticating juicers give the optimum juice yield and can retain more nutrients than centrifugal juicers. Masticating juicers crush fruit and vegetables using slowly rotating gears (augers) and press out the juice through a perforated screen. If you need the highest quality juice for medical or dietary reasons, masticating juicers are the way to go, though are not as easy to find, so in our area the best source would be to order online. The pulp produced in either method can be added to soups, muffins, baby food and dog food.
It is worth noting that while the juice of a fruit or vegetable still contains vitamins and nutrients; it lacks the fibre to ‘fill you up.’ In other words, you get the nutritional benefits but that also means the calories. The juice of a pineapple wouldn’t fill you up nearly as much as eating an actual pineapple, but the calories are the same. There is a saying in juicing that goes “juice your veggies but eat your fruits.”
I have found that I can enjoy the more earthy flavours of juiced vegetables as long as some of them are from the sweeter tasting choices such as carrots, romaine lettuce, cucumber, snap peas, beets, fennel, and bell peppers. Adding ginger, lemon, lime, chilli pepper, Himalayan salt, dill, mint or jalapeno can really pump up the taste of a vegetable juice if you are willing to branch out and away from that sweet psychological requirement.
No matter which way you decide to go with the purchase of a juicer, remember that fresh juice should be ingested immediately as it begins to oxidize and lose nutrients as soon as it’s made. Most experts agree that it is still okay to drink for up to 24 hours when stored in a dark bottle or at least chilled in the fridge, where it is dark most of the time. Avocados, most melons, bananas and berries have low juice yield so it’s better to eat those whole.
I hope that this has encouraged some of you to try juicing, buy a juicer or dust off the one in the basement. With winter upon us, consider your glass full of vitamins like an extra ray of sunshine. If you do make a glass of juice, or become a ‘Juice Fiend’ like me please let me know the next time you see me in town.
More recipes to try:
Basic: romaine lettuce, apple, ginger
Intermediate: snap peas, cucumber, kiwi, half a peeled lemon
Advanced: fennel, parsley or cilantro, celery, lime and a dash of chilli flake or cayenne pepper
Trisha Shanks writes about nutrition, recipes and her personal experience with seasonal fruit and vegetables. She is the Big Cheese at Nakusp Vegibox,- a new local, organic and pesticide-free variety box service. This is a seasonal cornucopia of local fare available for pick-up or delivery during the growing season and year-round.