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I know this sounds like a really lame post. Hell, I feel stupid just writing it. You don't make juice. You squeeze citrus to get juice, or you juice fruits to get juice. Real juice, anyway-- in my family we always had frozen fruit concentrates in the freezer that you mixed with water to “make” juice, but nobody was fooled. I never considered myself much of a juice fan, though, so I didn't much care. Apple juice always made me want to throw up a little, and although I do love freshly squeezed orange juice, it always seemed just a bit too much work to do at home or stupidly expensive out. And for “real” juice, the kind they serve at juice bars, for that you needed an expensive, not-high-on-my-list-of-kitchen-essentials juicer.
That's what I always thought, anyway, up until the first time I was in Colombia a couple of years ago. Fresh fruit juice is sold on almost every corner, it's made in front of you while you wait, and it's delicious. Some of the juices I drank were familiar-ish-- guava, pineapple, passion fruit, but fresher, less sweet than the canned stuff sold in the states. Other tasted like what “tropical”flavored candies wish they tasted like, and still others were completely different that any flavor I had had before. I was hooked. I watched my friends make the same juices at home. It's dead easy. All you need is a blender and a strainer, which every Colombian house has. And then, I felt pretty dumb. I'm from California, you know, the land of unending fruits and vegetables. I'm supposed to know how to cook. How did I miss this?
My sister's visit to Colombia confirmed that it was not just me. One of the first things I wanted to do once she arrived was take her to a produce market. She was shocked by the amount of completely unrecognizable fruits, as I was the first time I went. We picked up a bunch of different things and brought them home. It was hot, and I wanted juice. I pulled a couple of passion fruits out of the bag. My sister looked at me.
-Wait, how are you going to make juice from that?
-Blend it with water and sugar, then pour it through a strainer to strain the seeds out.
-Oh. Pause. Why don't we do that in the states?
-I don't know.
Actually, I think we don't do that in the states in part because there exists the concept of “100 % juice”, espoused by Juicyjuice and other makers of juices for kids, as being the only “healthy” juice. To add water to juice would be to adulterate it, to lower its quality, as would adding sugar. Now there are lots of good reasons for people to be wary of “fruit drinks”sold to kids in the states, but food manufacturers trying to cut costs aside, the fact is that fruit juice is mostly water, in one way or another, and nobody would want to drink passion fruit or tamarind juice without sugar. They're too sour. Adding a teaspoon or even a tablespoon of sugar to a glass of juice-- real juice-- is really not a big deal, and it tastes infinitely better-- and is infinitely healthier-- than soda or “fruit drinks”.
So that's it. Here are some tips to ease you into making your own juice:
In Colombia, my favorite juices are lulo en agua, borojo en leche, and guanabana en leche. Outside of the country, I'm a big fan of tamarind juice made with water and mango juice with milk. I hate to admit it, but the Colombians screwed with my head: lunch without juice now feels incomplete. So I don't know whether I should say I'm sorry, or you're welcome. At any rate the secret's out now: it's your choice whether or not to take the leap.
2 oz. fruit pulp (or 2.5 oz. if you're going to strain out the seeds afterwards)
~1 Tbsp. (.5 oz.) white or unprocessed cane sugar (like Sugar in the Raw)
5 oz. water (preferibly cold), or 2.5 oz. milk and 2.5 oz. water
Blend all ingredients for 15 seconds or until well mixed. If the fruit has seeds you're going to strain out don't worry about breaking them down too finely. Taste for sugar. Pass through a strainer if necessary into a jug. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. If the juice separates and a lot of foam gathers on top, just stir it back into the juice before serving. Serve over ice. Makes 1 cup of juice.