Power juicers aren't the first gadget that come to mind when considering the Living Ready lifestyle. Here are some juicing tips for anyone interested in self-sufficiency.
Last year, our small vegetable plot cranked out more zucchini squash than we could eat in a year. No, three years. These things just about grew legs and got a job. I thought the neighbors were going to call the police, these zucchini were so intimidating and numerous.
We were excited at first. How many ways could we make these zucchini? After burning through a few cookbooks and bags of charcoal, the thrill wore off. But the zucchini didn't. They just kept coming.
Back in the day, such a surplus was a good problem to have. The excess would be canned for later. Being someone who cringes when perfectly good food is thrown away, this is something we should've done.
But like many modern folks, we didn't go the canning route. Not that it's a bad idea. We're just not there yet with our self-sufficiency.
What zucchini that didn't make it past the “no, really, we're OK”s from family and friends wound up returning to the earth from whence it came. That's a nicer way of saying, “it went in the trash.”
That still bugs me. I place a lot of value in “waste not, want not.” The zucchini incident did not live up to my own standards.
I don't want a repeat this coming season. If we get a bumper crop with any of our vegetables, I want to use everything. So I went out and found a solution.
I bought a juicer. Specifically, a Jack LaLanne Power Juicer.
Yes, this staple of late-night programming is gimmicky. But for $100, it's not like juicing tips us into bankruptcy. It actually turned out to be a smart investment. Instead of letting surpluses go to waste, I could juice produce that would've turned south.
Here are some pros and cons, as well as some juicing tips, I learned along the way.
Pro: It's Fast
Turn the machine on, then drop fruits and veggies down the chute. Bam. You've got juice.
Compared to canning, this is lightning speed. Food grown outside could go from the ground to my glass in just a few minutes.
Pro: It Will Juice Anything
The Jack LaLanne Power Juicer is an indiscriminate produce killing machine. It does not care what is tossed into it. It could find the juice in a boot. It is to juicing what Liam Neeson's character is in Taken.
Pro: It Makes Use of Scraps
Broccoli stems are a good example. We normally buy a head of broccoli and eat the tops, discarding the rest. This is wasteful. The solution is to juice the stems. The results are actually sweet, which was a surprise. It got me thinking about how other scraps could be put to use.
Potato peels? Juice 'em. Asparagus stems? Juice 'em. More heads of lettuce than you can eat? Juice 'em. Apple peels? Juice 'em. The leafy parts of a celery stalk? Juice 'em. Grapes on a vine past their due date? Juice 'em. All those leafy veggies your doctor says to eat but you never do? Juice 'em.
Pro: It's a Supercharged Compost Machine
As the machine separates juice from everything else, the latter winds up in a container. This pulpy mix would make perfect compost.
It's supercharged because it's making the job of hungry bacteria easier. The total surface area of those shredded bits is greater than if you tossed in a whole vegetable or fruit. This allows for more bacteria to get in and do their job. Although I've yet to prove it, it is my theory that the pulp will break down faster.
Pro: Lots of Ways to Eat the Pulp
The pulp can be used for a variety of culinary purposes, too. Carrot shreds would go perfectly in baked goods, for example. You could eat fruit pulp outright. Or you could throw veggie pulp into an omelet. There are scores of juicing tips out there on what to do with the stuff.
Whatever you do with the pulp, just don't let it go to waste.
Pro: It's Healthy
We're talking about 100% juice with no preservatives, no dyes and nothing you can't pronounce (although zucchini is hard to spell). Tell me that's not a good thing.
You're also getting a vitamin bomb, depending on what you put in it (i.e not cupcakes). Some juicing tips out there talk about natural remedies for this and that. I don't buy into many of those claims, but I'll stand by this most inarguable of juicing tips: There are a lot worse things you could drink.
Con: Results May…Vary
If you're a picky drinker, a power juicer is not for you. The taste usually falls somewhere between “pretty good” and “I have to take the rest of the day off.”
I worked long and hard to earn the nickname of “the human trash can” around the house, so taste doesn't bother me. That's not why I bought this juicer.
The trick is to find the right combination of fruits and vegetables. Most of the juicing tips I've read say an apple will make anything palatable.
Con: The Juice Doesn't Last Long
It's best to drink the juice right away. Remember, there aren't any preservatives and nothing has been homogenized. The longer the juice sits, the worse it's going to look and taste.
I suppose you could can the juice, but that's not the point of this machine. Juicing is supposed to save time.
Con: Clean Up is a Mess
This is the case with most juicer models. There are several parts to the machine, and they all need to be cleaned immediately after use. That's is the best of all the juicing tips I could offer.
Waiting even an hour guarantees all that pulp will magically transform into veggie glue. At that point, you may as well have canned, because you'll spend just as much time scrubbing.
Overall, I'm happy with my purchase and am looking forward to finding ways to use the machine. It's an unlikely choice for self-sufficient folks, but one definitely worth a look.