Tips to Make Juicing Simple and Delicious

by Melodie on April 10, 2010

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Fad diets come and go. Every few years there is a new favorite supplement touted to do everything from lower blood pressure to prevent cancer. But no diet or supplement has ever been shown to provide the range of disease-fighting substances that come from vegetables and fruits. Research just keeps demonstrating their power to prevent disease and enhance healing.

We’re advised to include five to nine servings of vegetables and fruits in our diets daily – when healthy. For a person recovering from cancer, the body’s demands for nutrients are even more intense. Drinking fresh juices can provide the additional boost a body needs.

I started making and drinking fresh juices daily with my first cancer diagnosis. My holistic doctor instructed me to consume one quart of freshly made juice, primarily carrot, each day. Fortunately, once I was through treatment, the amount I drank decreased but I have continued juicing and have been at it now for 14 years.

Sometimes a person will tell me, “I bought a juicer, but I don’t use it because it’s so hard to clean” or “I just don’t have time to wash and prepare that many vegetables every day.”

Over the years, I’ve found ways to simplify my juicing routine so that I have no excuses for doing something that’s so good for me. Here are my tips.

What you’ll need:

  • Juicer/juice extractor
  • Vegetable brush
  • Small cutting board
  • Kitchen knife
  • 4-cup Pyrex-type measuring cup
  • Paper towels and/or unbleached tea towels
  • Gallon freezer bags and/or sealing storage containers
  • Salad spinner (or top-loading washing machine)

  And here’s how:

1. Get a juicer that meets your needs and is easy to clean.

Several types of juicers are on the market; the main ones are centrifugal and masticating. The first spins and grinds the vegetables at a high rate of speed, forcing the pulp out while the juice filters into a receptacle. This is the more common and inexpensive type of machine and can be found at many stores.

A masticating juicer gently presses the vegetables and squishes the juice out. Some juicing advocates prefer this method as they say heat does not destroy the live enzymes, and it is more efficient at juicing a wider variety of produce, especially greens. Prices for masticating juicers are higher.

To save time, look for a juicer with fewer parts to clean and one with a wide mouth where vegetables are put into the machine. You’ll have less cutting to do.

I have had my juice extractor for 14 years. And even with regular, hard use, I have only had to replace one part. If you’re just starting out and plan to do mostly carrots, beets and other firm vegetables, then a centrifugal juicer will be less expensive and faster to use. But if you plan to do a lot of greens and are committed to juicing for the long haul, it may be worth the extra money to purchase a masticating juicer. For additional information on choosing a machine, check this website. I’ve placed a selection of juicers to consider for purchase on my Resources page. Don’t forget eBay or Craigslist either for less expensive options.

2. Purchase vegetables and fruit for the week.

 If you’re in the habit of making a weekly supermarket trip, this would be a great time to pick up all the produce you need for juicing. Check first with your nutritionist or health-care provider to find out how much juice is recommended for you. Four large carrots will make approximately 8 ounces (or about ¼ liter) of juice. I’d recommend starting out with carrots and apples, preferably organic. So if you want to drink 12 ounces of juice daily in this simple combination, pick up a 10-pound (or 5 kg) bag of carrots and four apples. As you add different kinds of produce, you’ll get a feel for how much will be needed for a week. At the end of the week, I just pull out everything I have left over and make a healthy cocktail of the remainder.

3. Clean the produce all at once.

 The benefit of cleaning everything immediately is that each day you can just pull out the produce you want, and it’s ready to go right into your juicer. For cleaning, I prefer an assembly-line technique. Once home from the market, dump out the produce into one side of the kitchen sink. Submerge it in water and scrub each piece with a vegetable brush before putting it into the second sink basin. Rinse with running water and place the produce into a clean dish drainer or onto a kitchen towel next to the sink. (If you’re in a country like I am with impure water, you’ll have some additional steps of disinfection and a pure-water rinse.) I cut the tops off carrots and beets but I don’t skin anything as the life-giving polyphenols are in the fruit skins and are released with juicing.

Once mostly dry, place the vegetables and fruits into reusable containers or gallon freezer bags, and store them in the refrigerator.

Greens will easily last a week with some simple care. After washing, dry the greens well in a salad spinner. Or you can do as my mom used to do: wrap them in a clean bath towel and whirl them on the spin cycle in a top-loading washing machine (re-positioning the leaves once in the middle of the spin). Place the greens into a gallon-size freezer bag with a paper towel on either side, sandwich-style. This absorbs any condensation that may form. Gallon bags can be re-used many times and work well for smaller amounts of parsley, but I like a sealing firm container to store bulky greens like spinach. Just be sure to place a paper towel on the bottom and top (or two sides) of the greens so condensation doesn’t form to start decay.

4. Bag by the day.

 To streamline your juicing even more, you can bag single portions. Put the combination of vegetables and fruits you want for each day into individual gallon bags before placing them in the refrigerator. Keep the produce whole to prevent decay (i.e. one whole apple, one red pepper, four carrots). Then you’ll just have a reach for one bag when you’re ready to juice.

5. Keep your juicer and supplies in an easy-to-use place.

 If the machine is in its box on the top shelf, you just won’t use it! I keep mine on a cupboard shelf just below the counter where I plug it in to use. A small cutting board, knife and 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup are within easy reach. I prefer to use the large Pyrex as a receptable because its wide mouth catches the fresh juice without splashing all over, and it has a lip for pouring directly into glasses for drinking.

6. Experiment with a variety of vegetables and fruit.

 When I first started juicing, I bought a recipe book. That can be fine for getting ideas for yummy combinations to juice. But I think the best way is just to experiment. Carrots always provide a healthy base for juices, so you could start with those and then add different kinds of root vegetables, greens or fruits. I generally keep fruits to no more than ¼ of the mix because their concentrated sugars can affect blood sugar levels. And I’ve found that certain fruits like cantaloupe, mango and strawberries don’t spin through a centrifugal juicer well; these are best eaten fresh or made into smoothies in a blender. Because root vegetables and dark greens can be bitter in larger amounts, I’d recommend juicing them with grapes, apple or carrot to sweet them. And the white pith of citrus can create bitterness, so I usually mix in any citrus juices afterward. You can also add things like fresh ginger to add zing and exotic flavor to your juice. Kick it up and have fun with the combinations. Many juicing advocates recommend drinking the juice within about 30 minutes of making it to avoid oxidation and breakdown of the enzymes.

7. Wash the juicer parts immediately after using the machine.

 Once the juice is ready, don’t even think of pouring it into a glass or doing another kitchen chore before cleaning the juicer! This is critical to simplifying your routine. The pulp will immediately begin drying onto the machine surfaces and you’ll be left with the tedious chore of scrubbing every crevice. But if you immediately take the parts to the sink, they are quickly rinsed clean in a stream of water. The only part that may need scrubbing is the grinding screen; use a long-handled vegetable brush or toothbrush to do this. The juicer parts can then be rack-dried or put into the dishwasher if you wish.

8. Enlist the help of friends.

 Juicing does take a commitment of time and that means energy too. So if you are finding yourself in short supply of either, ask friends to help you. When a person is going through cancer treatment or recovering afterwards, there are usually people who ask, “What can I do to help?” Preparing your juicing produce is a great way. They can do any part of the process: shopping for produce from a list you provide; washing, cutting and bagging it at their home for delivery to yours; even juicing and cleaning up if they are with you when you’re ready to drink it.

9. Share this cocktail of life with others.

 When I started juicing, my husband politely declined to join me. And I have to admit I choked down my juice in those early months; I hadn’t yet acquired a taste for it or found combinations I liked. But in time, I came to enjoy it, especially as I created a picture of precious vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals sliding down my throat and strengthening my body against cancer. In time, my husband joined me, and then our young children. For many years, we have had fresh juices before our family weekday dinners. And I sometimes invite adventurous guests to try it too, pouring the colorful liquid into small wine glasses to dress it up.

When I asked my eight-year-old, Miss Mouse, what she would tell people about juicing, she immediately outlined its benefits, saying it will “keep you from getting fat and help you stay healthy.” (Wouldn’t it be great if weight loss were so simple?!) Mr. Magoo, my child who would prefer a Coke any day, said, “It’s gross, but it’s good for you.” And he knows that because he doesn’t like vegetables, juice is a good way to get most of the benefits into his growing body without him having to eat a huge plateful of veggies.

Maybe you share Mr. Magoo’s assessment. I hope that you will overcome any initial reservations about the required time or hesitation about taste, and plunge into this daily habit that has the power to boost your health and energy to new levels. See it as a life-giving gift to yourself.

What steps will you take to get started with regular juicing?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rocio P. Mason April 11, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Great post! and living down here it should be easier to do it, since there is a great variety of both vegetables and fruits. I do have couple of questions:

1. Would the V8 drink be as good?
2. Would you recommend peeling off non organic fruits and vegetables?

Thank you Melodie!

2 Melodie April 12, 2010 at 11:52 am

Where you live in the world will determine the variety of veggies and fruits you can juice. You may come up with some great new combinations! On V8: The benefit of a tomato-based canned juice is that it’s a good source of lycopene and other nutrients. The downside is that canned veg drinks often contain high amounts of sodium, and they don’t provide the live enzymes that are released when you freshly juice fruits and vegetables. On peeling: I don’t peel any of my juicing produce, whether organic or not. That’s mainly because it goes through a scrub, a sanitizing soak and a thorough rinse to get rid of any traces of chemicals from the skins. Peeling would also remove the very part that contains valuable polyphenols. So — Scrub and rinse well, and buy organic when you are able. Happy juicing!

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