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Friday, October 5, 2012

How to Juice Frugally

Some juice pulp, ready to go into the freezer
People drink juice for all sorts of reasons.

Some go on a juice fast in an attempt to heal themselves- either to detox, to cure stomach ailments, or to cure cancer.
Some go on juice fasts in an attempt to lose weight.
Some drink freshly made juice because they believe that that's the best way to absorb the nutrients and enzymes from fruits and veggies.
And some just drink juice because they like the taste.

One thing nearly everyone agrees about juice- it's expensive!
If you buy store bought juice (I mean the real thing, not diluted and sweetened with sugar and other stuff), it's expensive.
If you make your own juice, it's also often expensive.
You know why?
Because it takes a LOT of fruit or vegetables to make a very minimal amount of juice! 
Think about it- juice is just the liquid that has been extracted from a fruit or vegetable, and most fruits and vegetables have a really large percent pulp, not just juice (aside from some noticeable exceptions like watermelon). So in order to make just one cup of juice, you often need 10-20 times the amount of fruit/veggies.

So, is it possible to actually juice frugally?

Yes.

Here's how.

Get Free Fruit and Veggies
  • If you can forage all or some of the produce for your juice, the only thing you'll need to pay is the cost of the electricity to run your juicer. I juice my nopales, purslane, and grapes that I pick free. Prickly pears, figs, milk thistle, nettles, mallow and anything else that can be eaten raw can be juiced as well; taste is the only thing you need to take into consideration.
  • Growing your own produce and juicing it is another alternative. You can also see if any neighbors have any extra over abundant produce that they grew that they're happy to part with. I find neighbors with fruit trees often have the most extra- if you see lots of fruit rotting on the ground under a tree, knock on the door and ask if they have any extra and if you can come pick. Most are happy to share, I've discovered.
  • Farmers markets and often grocery stores have produce past their prime that they no longer are selling, and instead, send to the trash. In certain places, you can catch this produce either right before it goes into the trash, or right after. Just remember, if using past prime produce for making juice, you want to be more careful than you might be if you were using that produce for cooking, as you won't be killing any bacteria via cooking. Wash very well, and cut off any icky looking parts before juicing.
Cheap Fruit and Veggies
While free is always cheapest, even if you can't get your hands on free produce, there still are ways to get cheap produce with which to make juice.
  • Stick to seasonal produce, ideally things you buy on sale at a cheap store.
  • If your store has a reduced rack, buy from it!
  • Buy from a CSA.
  • Buy produce in bulk from a wholesaler and divide it up among friends.
Don't Toss That Juice
Depending on the juicer, you may end up with a decent amount of liquid together with the pulp. Put the juice pulp into a cheesecloth, and squeeze out all the juice.

What to Do With Pulp
One of the things that makes juicing so expensive is that such a large percent of the produce gets turned into pulp, thrown in the garbage, and wasted. The internet has lots of ideas of what to do with produce pulp left over after juicing, and google, I'm sure, will give you many of them. Here are some ways, though, that I've tried, and my tips regarding them. (I would recommend not keeping any pulp from nopales, especially if you're juicing the nopales without first removing the spines.)
  • Put in cakes. Most pulp should be fine added to any cakes- all fruit, and vegetables like beets, carrots, and zucchini should work. If you have a small amount of other types of pulp mixed in, you probably can also use that in a cake, as long as it is a really small amount. The internet is filled with recipes for juice pulp cake which you can use, or you can just play around and make up your own recipe.
  • Use for crackers. Officially you can make "juice pulp crackers", which means just dehydrating juice pulp spread out to a thin layer to get a cracker type thing. I did this and was not thrilled with the results- instead of a cracker or bread type thing, I ended up with a vegetably tasting, rather fibrous "fruit leather". Just mix the pulp into another cracker recipe, and adjust the recipe to taste. I don't suggesting making "straight pulp" crackers.
  • Use in sauces. Veggie pulp can be added to tomato sauce and white sauce, as a way to sneak in nutrients.
  • Use in soup. Veggie pulp can be used to make a "vegetable soup mix" of sorts- just freeze and pull some out of the freezer as needed to be used as a base for a delicious soup.
  • Use as a filler instead of bread crumbs with ground meat to make burgers, meat loaf, or meatballs.
  • Use to make veggie patties.
Do you juice officially, or make fresh juice? Why do you make juice? How much do you think you spend on juicing? Is it expensive for you to juice? What do you do to lower the cost? What do you usually do with the pulp? Have you used any of these ideas?


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