Whether you want to juice for the health benefits, or you just like to start your day with freshly-squeezed citrus, you don't have to own a juicer to make it happen. Maybe you've thought about getting a juicer, but aren't sure whether the clean-up and loss of kitchen space will be worth it. Before you commit, dip your toe into juicing with the supplies already in your kitchen.
You'll need a blender, a spatula, a fine mesh strainer, and a bowl — preferably one that your strainer sits nicely on top of. Next you need to decide what you want to juice. Take note: This is not the time to perfect a parsnip, carrot, and ginger blend. Your blender isn't going to be up to the challenge. If you don't want to wing it, start with a juice recipe designed to work in a blender, or follow our lead with a beet and citrus blend. Don't be afraid to play around with your blends though; we've got quick fixes if your mix gets stuck.
Wash your ingredients well, and cut them into large chunks. For citrus, cut the peel and pith away first, but there's no need to dig to extract the seeds. Items like beets, carrots, and ginger just need a good scrub — there's no need to peel, just lop off the tops and particularly hairy-looking bottoms. In fact, there's no need to peel most ingredients, unless you are concerned about non-organic produce, or you just want to. (There are exceptions. Please peel your pineapple.)
Place your chopped produce in the blender, and yes, order matters. Put juicier items at the bottom — like citrus, pears, tomatoes, or cucumbers — before putting in greens and sturdier items.
Now, blend! It's okay if your blender needs some cajoling. Sometimes, a quick stir (while the blender is off!) is all it takes to get things moving again. Other times you'll need to add more liquid to get it blending: a splash of water, juice, or another piece or two of really juicy produce. Pep talks help too.
Once everything is blended, pour your the mixture into the mesh strainer (which is set over a bowl), press it with a spatula to extract the juice, and let it sit for a few minutes to encourage a bit more to drip out. At that point, you can pour it in a glass, or go back for a final aggressive press with the spatula — unless you're anti-pulp in your juice.
Now it's time to clean your mesh strainer. Yes, right now. Before all of pulpy pieces get stuck on and impossible to remove. Scrape out the pulp, and either add it to your compost bin, or reserve it for another use (depending on your blend, the pulp can be used for stock, vegetable patties, breads, or mixed with cream cheese for a spread). Running water over the stainer in the opposite direction that you poured the juice in will help to remove the little bits. In dire cases, use a stiff-bristled brush.
Return to your juice and enjoy. Our citrus-beet blend is great straight-up or cut with sparkling water — but it's really meant to live in a margarita. Does that defeat the health benefits of juicing? We hope not. (And if you don't have a blender or a juicer, all is not lost. The creators of the Mason Jar Shaker prove you can even juice with a muddler.)
Photos by James Ransom
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