The Ultimate Guide To Making Satisfactory Juices
Written by: Kavata Kithome
The Ultimate Guide To Making Satisfactory Juices
As a Fitlife certified health coach, I have been discussing different strategies that I have personally used that helped me and my clients be successful with their transformations.
I have shared that juicing is a one of our biggest and best tools to affect changes and bring about healing to your body and overall wellness. In the recent years, thanks to people like Joe Cross and Drew Canole, juicing has become a widely known method.
When I began juicing, I didn’t know where to start, what juicer to get, what to juice or how. While the idea of juicing is pretty simple, to actually apply the idea can be a daunting task.
So, because I get you, here is a guide to help you squeeze the most possible deliciousness out of your juicer, even without using recipes. We will look at flavor balance, texture and tips for getting the most out of your equipment and ingredients.
First things first: juices and smoothies are different beasts. As a health coach, I find that most people think I am talking about smoothies when I say juice and vice versa. That may seem obvious, but lots of juicer-less folks have asked whether they can whiz up juice recipe ingredients in their blender and get a similar, but thicker result.
The answer, unfortunately, is a definitive no. First, texture is critical in smoothies and requires some attention that’s absent from juicing guidelines. And equally important, juicing extracts a relatively small amount of liquid and flavor from certain ingredients, especially leafy greens and herbs. Blending an equal amount of those ingredients could seriously overpower your earnest attempts at a mellow smoothie. Therefore, it’s best to consider juices and smoothies in their own separate ways.
Juice: A Question Of Taste
When it comes to juices, flavor balance is where it’s at in creating delightful juices, since texture isn’t an issue. Custom making your own fresh juices gives you ultimate control over how sweet and how complex you like your flavors.
Top Tips And Tricks For Tasteful Juicing
1. A Formula For Tasty Juice
I’ve found that a really good juice contains the following: something sweet, something tart, something high-yield (which produces a lot of juice for its size), something earthy and maybe something herbaceous or spicy.
Earthy flavors include root vegetables as well as greens like kale, spinach and beet greens. With a general formula like this one, the variations are endless.
Here are some of my favorite ingredients from each category:
- Sweet: Apples, pears, grapes, melons, pineapples, oranges, kiwis, mangoes, berries, grapes
- Tart: Lemons, limes
- Roots: Beets, carrots, turnips, parsnips
- Greens: Kale, spinach, lettuce, chard, arugula, mustard greens, beet greens, dandelion, sorrel, broccoli
- Herbs: Basil, parsley, cilantro, mint
- High-yield: Cucumbers, celery, fennel, tomatoes, melons, bell peppers
- Spicy: Ginger, hot peppers (use judiciously), garlic
2. Juice Things Together That You Would Want To Eat Together
An important thing to remember: a juicer is just another appliance in your much-loved kitchen. When juicing, it’s best to pair foods that go well together. If it makes a good salad, chances are it makes a pretty good-tasting juice, too.
3. Balance High-Yield Ingredients With High-Potency Ingredients
Cucumbers, celery and apples are high-yielding ingredients and are great for balancing a little bit of ginger or mint. It is important to be aware of the behavior of each ingredient in the juicer and try to maintain a reasonable balance between flexible, mellow ingredients and more intense ingredients.
4. Taste As You Go And Adjust Accordingly
Just like when you are cooking a soup or a stew, you’ve got the flexibility to add and adjust as you juice. Stir up your juice and sip to taste and add ingredients as needed.
5. To Peel Or Not To Peel?
In many cases, leaving the skin on the produce you juice is just fine – even pineapple skin can roll just fine through most decent juicers. Especially if you’re using the skin, do be sure to buy produce grown with organic practices when possible.
A few exceptions, where you should peel:
- Produce that’s been waxed*
- Citrus fruits, if you want the pure taste of the juice without the skin’s oil and the pith bitterness (it’s fine to juice the whole thing, but it really does change the flavor)
- Any other ingredient where you’re concerned the skin will affect the taste (for example, you might do a taste test with melons, though it’s technically fine to juice the skins)
- And, if you’re visually astute or serving to a crowd, any peel that might negatively affect the color of the final juice (say, cucumber skin in a cucumber watermelon juice)
*Hairy kiwis and produce that’s been waxed sort of sound like opposites, but you know what I mean.
6. A Special Note On Leafy Greens
Where juicing is concerned, there are essentially three flavors of leafy greens. Neutral greens like lettuce; earthy greens like kale, beet greens and chard; and peppery greens like dandelion, mustard and arugula.
Neutral greens are easy to work with. Peppery greens are nearly impossible to hide, so you should make them one of the stars of the show (or avoid them if you don’t enjoy them). Earthy greens require a little more sprucing.
Whether or not you think kale is a four-letter word for a reason, you’ll find it and other earthy greens in many a juice (and smoothie). The bad news is that too much or too lonely liquid kale can taste like the wrath of an angry mob. The good news is that, used judiciously and paired intelligently, kale can be as good for your recipes as they say it is for your body. All you need to know is that acid and herbs (or spice) are kale’s friends. Use lemon. Use cilantro. It’s the juicing equivalent of an “assertive dressing” on a raw kale salad.
7. Finally, Consider Color
The way food looks affects your perception of the way it tastes. The same applies at least equally to juices. Don’t make a grey juice or a brown one unless you have an opaque cup with a lid or a fondness for the not-so-enticing. Pair intelligently.
In a green juice, for example, apples and pears make better sweeteners than strawberries. If you’re really stuck, just juice a beet. It’s the ultimate color trump card and will override almost anything.
Now that we have an understanding on how to make an amazing juice, let’s look for a moment at juicing equipment.
Centrifugal Vs. Masticating Juicers
The Fitlife coaches all have their favorite juicers and combined we have an array of juicers that range from very expensive to not so expensive. But for the purposes of this article, there are basically two choices: centrifugal and masticating juicers.
There is so much said about which juicer to choose, but here are my thoughts based on my experience:
Centrifugal juicers shred ingredients with a rapidly spinning disk of blades and then strain the bits through a very fine strainer. They tend to be less expensive and, if you’re 12 at heart like me, are much less awkward to talk about than their masticating counterpart. On the downside, they tend to extract a little less juice, especially from leafy greens and the juice oxidizes more quickly, so it doesn’t stay fresh as long.
Masticating juicers essentially chew up the ingredients and spit out the juice. Since their extraction process doesn’t cause as much oxidation, optimal taste can last more like a day compared to the centrifugal juicer’s 30 minutes. Masticating juicers can also be used for a wider variety of kitchen needs, from juicing wheatgrass to grinding grains and nuts.
For what it’s worth, I still have a centrifugal juicer even though I make juice almost daily and honestly, it’s been working out perfectly well. Maybe when I need a new juicer, I’ll invest in a masticating one for the increased flexibility with timing and the possibility of retaining more nutrients, but admittedly the price tag on masticating juicers keeps me shy.
Juicers: Cleaning And Shopping Tips
I know that I preach prepping, but honestly, like doing my laundry, I have a love-hate relationship with prepping. But what you do after your juicing is just as important.
Here’s a word of advice about cleaning your juicer, regardless of which type you have: do it early and do it often. If you clean that baby right after you juice, a simple rinse under warm water, maybe with a little soap, will do the trick (scrub a centrifugal juicer’s filter with a stiff-bristled brush, too).
And finally, when shopping for a machine of either type, keep in mind that juicers vary a lot in terms of design and yield. If you’re reading reviews, pay particular attention to how much juice they produce and how wonderful or horrible they are to clean.
Getting The Most Juice
You can maximize the yield from your ingredients by paying attention to the order and speed at which you juice them. At Fitlife we have a list of tips and tricks we give our clients on this subject alone.
Leafy greens and herbs are the most noticeable case, where a little good technique will go a long way. You’ll get a much better yield if you tightly pack the greens (roll them up before adding to the feed tube of your juicer) and place them between two harder, juicier ingredients (such as cucumber and apple). Then nudge the greens through the juicer one small push at a time.
For leafy greens and herbs and also for all softer ingredients (citrus, melons, stone fruit, berries, etc.), use a slower speed if your juicer has one.
Try to alternate high-yield ingredients like celery with firmer ingredients like ginger, and definitely juice a high-yield ingredient last. It will help to flush everything else through the juicer before you turn it off.
Phew! Now that I have bombarded you with so much information, go forth and try one or all these different tips and tricks and share your experience below. Do you have any other tips for making juice at home? Don’t be shy, let’s hear them the comments below!
Kavata Kithome is an advocate for living your best life, full of health and longevity. While working closely with gym owners and personal trainers, she was able to sculpt a well-rounded view of fitness and understands how to incorporate it with a healthy balanced diet. She is a regular contributor to the One More Step Lifestyle brand.
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