Sunday, September 18, 2011

Let's Get Juicy

I used to start every day with a cool glass of orange juice.

You know the kind that you buy in the grocery store in the carton from the refrigerated section?

The stuff that is made from oranges picked up to a year ago, treated with heat to remove all traces of bacteria, and then finally enriched with essential oils, vitamins and sugar. Natural, fresh squeezed orange juice it is not.

I quit the juice in high school.

Not because I cared about how organic or processed my food was. Rather, my utmost concern was my waistline, and fitting into a size five.

Ohhh, I would never wish a teenage girlhood upon anyone.

Somewhere in the fitness magazines and diet books I read, I got the (correct) idea that orange juice was empty calories and ditched it. For years after, I stayed away from juice like the plague – unless it was mixed into an adult beverage.

Until recently…

Now, I drink juice all the time. Oh yeah, I’ve become a juice head. Watch out New Jersey! (Ok, not that kind of juice).

My drink of choice is fresh pressed vegetable juice.

Unfortunately, in NYC you need to be a millionaire to drink a steady diet of fresh pressed juice. Those babies cost on average eight dollars a pop! That’s $3,000 annually for one measly juice a day. You could get a supersized meal at McDonald’s for that price and still have change left over for a pack of gum.

But when I looked into buying a juicer, I realized that I didn’t have any extra storage space for something in my kitchen, and I didn’t have an extra ten minutes every morning to clean out my juicer. Plus, I wasn’t too keen on shelling out a couple hundred bucks.

It turns out that to enjoy fresh juice, I don’t need to be a high-roller nor buy another fancy kitchen appliance. I can make juice in my blender.

How to make your own juice without a juicer:

High Speed Blender
Fine Strainer and/or cheesecloth
Large contrainer to fit under strainer

Start with fruit and veggies washed, and chopped to about the size of an apricot for really hard items (beets, carrots) and larger for softer items.

(1) Start out by putting the softest watery vegetables and fruits in the blender. I usually start with: lime or lemon juice, tomatoes, cucumbers, and watermelon are all pretty watery

The blender turned those cukes into mush.

(2) Then add leafy vegetables. I usually fold big leaves – like kale, lettuce, and collard greens and drop them into the blender until they are liquefied.

Celery...not just for Bloody Mary's.

Red kale going into the celery-cucumber mixture.

(3) If at anytime, the blender gets stuck, add a little water.

Some chopped up beets and a little - oops - I mean - lot of ginger.

(4) Add the hardest stuff last.

The raw beets were peeled and chopped first.  

(5) I also add last any extras like – salt, hemp seeds, a knob of ginger, or a little jalapeƱo.

Add some lime. Citrus is almost a staple in any juice I make.

(6) Once everything is blended, it should look like a thick shake when you tilt the blender around, but there should be no chunks. Usually, I blend on the liquefy setting for about 1 minute, but you may need to adjust for your blender.

The beets really give this juice an awesome color.

(7) Nestle the strainer inside your large container. Be sure that bottom of the strainer is about 2-3 inches from the bottom and that the side of the strainer don’t hang above the large container.

My strainer....I bought this at Ikea for under $5.00.  

Strainer + pan = True love.

(8) Slowly pour the contents of the blender into the strainer. You might want to use a spoon in the strainer and stir while pouring. If you are using a cheesecloth, lay the cheesecloth inside the strainer, allowing generous amounts to hang over the edges so you can tie up the pulp in a bag.

Be careful not to spill beets all over. They stain!

(9) Once blender contents are poured into the strainer, you can let it drain for a minute or two, but then pull out the spoon and stir the contents gently. Scraping the sides of the container as you stir.

The leftover pulp after giving it some swirls with the spoon.

(10) If using the cheesecloth, gently gather the edges of the cloth to make a bag, remove the strainer, and with clean hands squeeze the pulp. It helps to squeeze small sections as the cloth is fragile and will rip or certain holes will enlarge if you put too much pressure on the bag.

(11) Once you’ve extracted enough juice, poor the juice from the large container into a glass and enjoy. You will know have extracted enough when if using just the strainer, the pulp is lumpy, and if using the cheesecloth, when the pulp begins to start coming out of the cheesecloth.

A multi-vitamin in a glass. It tastes good too.  

(12) The remaining pulp will be juicy still and it’s a bit wasteful. Sometimes I stir in a few spoonfuls of the pulp into the juice to add some fiber. Sometimes, I freeze it and reuse it another recipe – such as to bulk up veggie burgers, but sadly most times, I throw it away. If you have a garden you can use this as fertilizer and you can certainly start a compost pile with the remains.

Although not the best method to make juice, this certainly yields a cheap cup of juice and a rich cup of vitamins.

Enjoy your juice!


  1. I actually don't have a juicer and haven't really tried many veggie juices. But I love veggies and veggie-tasting things, so I think I would love your juice!

  2. I was really squeamish about veggie juice at first too, but then I tried some and loved it. Though pricey, try checking out Organic Avenue, Juice Press, Liquiteria (haven't been but heard it's good), or any random juice bar. There are usually some in the Equinox lobbies, and at a lot of health food stores.