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How To Make Juice

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:

  • Exact proportions for sugar are hard to give because depending on the sweetness of the fruit you're using, you'll need/want more or less sugar. Start on the lower side and add more if necessary.
  • Some juices need to be strained after blending and some shouldn't be strained. Fruits like passion fruit and guava that have hard seeds are always strained. Pulpy fruits like mango and guanabana should not as they a. don't need to be and b. will be very difficult to get through the strainer. Berry juices can be strained or not depending on your preference-- in Colombia jugo de mora (berry juice) is always strained, but that's also because the berries are sold frozen with the tops attached, so straining is necessary after blending to remove them. Other fruits have seeds that you have to remove before blending-- fruits like guanabana and cherimoyas have large, smooth seeds that you can pop out with your hands, and tamarind must be soaked beforehand, mushed into pulp, and strained to remove the woody parts.
  • Some juices are traditionally made with water and others with milk or a combination thereof. You can do whatever you like, and people do, but the general taste is along the lines of more acidic fruits made with water and thicker, creamier fruits made with milk. For example: passion fruit with water, mango with milk. (Also, if you think about it, very acidic fruits blended with milk will curdle quite quickly, not a quality I normally look for in beverages.)
  • Though it's not very traditional, I sometimes like to throw in spices I have lying around. Vanilla pods leftover from another use are great in passion fruit juice, as are a couple of slices of fresh ginger in pineapple and guava juice.
  • Latino markets in the states often stock frozen pulp. Make sure it's unsweetened and 100% pulp, and you can use it in the same proportion as fresh fruit.
  • Though I give volume proportions below, I normally use the rule of 1 small fruit per cup-- 1 guava, or 1 smallish passionfruit, etc.



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.

Fresh Fruit Juice

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.


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Jen Thursday, 27 September 2012

In Puerto Rico they use watermelon to sweeten the juice.

MNice Thursday, 19 June 2014

If you happen to be in North America, this is all that you need, and you still get that same good and fresh tasting passion fruit. Its really that simple, click-and-drink.

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