With some simple equipment you can learn to make your own healthy juices from fresh, summer fruits. Not only will these healthy juices be healthier than store bought, but it will most likely be cheaper, too. Not to mention that it makes a great food storage product and is useful in many recipes and drinks.
To learn to make other homemade staples, be sure to check out our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead. Kitchen tips are just one small part of this 400 page, comprehensive guide on homesteading. Broken up into four different levels of homesteading experience, you can go at your own pace as you build your self-sufficient lifestyle one level at a time. For a FREE sample from The Do It Yourself Homestead, just shoot me an email at Tessa@homesteadlady.com and I’ll get you set up. Or, click below to learn more:
Why Make Healthy Juices at Home
Ever looked at the back of a bottle of commercial juice? Yeah, yikes.
I love the Ocean Spray® cranberry dudes on their commercials, but you have to be sure you double check the labels if you want to buy a juice without white sugar. Or worse, artificial sweeteners. Even juices with no added sweet muck are only sold to people with money. They’re sticklers about that.
If you have access to fresh fruit, it may be more economical for you to learn to make your own healthy juices. You’ll know there are no residual pesticides, herbicides, preservatives or other unsavory ingredients.
What Equipment is Needed to Make Healthy Juices?
We have a number of fruit trees and a large Concord grape vine that we inherited when we bought this house and with pruning, they’ve performed really well for us. BUT, I was never really sure what to do with them. Have you ever grown food you didn’t know what to do with? Rutabagas come to mind.
We’re not big plum eaters and the grapes have seeds; although, that doesn’t seem to keep my kids from wolfing them down. One day, I learned about an awesome contraption called a steam juicer that could be used to make healthy juices from fresh fruits. I decided that it would have to be the next tool I couldn’t live without!
We bought the Cook N Home NC-00256 11-Quart Stainless-Steel Juicer Steamer and it works very well. I also cleans up easily.
Fruit Juice Combinations and Suggestions
We don’t drink a lot of juice during the year but the plum juice we made mixes wonderfully well with homemade limeade for a festive Christmas punch. The Concord grape juice is just plain divine. We mix the grape juice with water kefir to make a kind of fruit soda. To learn how to do that, click here.
I also use the grape juice to mask the flavor of the kids herbal tincture when they’re ill. It’s effective but it tastes yucky.
To Sweeten or Not
The Concords grapes are really pretty sweet on their own and make a sweet juice. However, once the grapes have gone through the steam juicer, the resulting juice is concentrated in flavor. So, to lighten the grape juice for drinking I use
- one quart of home canned juice
- one quart of filtered water
- with raw agave or honey to taste
This is one of the only things I use agave for anymore, but I like it better than honey because the flavor blends better. Honey has a taste of it’s own.
Similarly, almost all the other juices have needed a little sweetener, here and there. To learn to make fruit syrups from your healthy juices, be sure to check out this post from the Rootsy Network. Fruit syrups can be added to ice drinks, ice creams and so many more healthy treats!
What Healthy Juices can be made in a Steam Juicer?
We’ve successfully processed grapes, apricots, plums, peaches and random berries into healthy juices using a steam juicer. You can technically turn any fruit into juice with a steam juicer but our experience was that not all fruits perform the same. Apples, for example, barely produced any juice. However, what did come out of the steam juicer had a good deal of pectin. I might have been able to use it in jelly, but didn’t think of that, sadly.
Speaking of jelly, is you love to make it, this steam juicing process can cut out all that muck with a jelly bag to strain out seeds and skins. Just steam juice your fruit and follow your recipe adding pectin, etc. To learn more about some simple jams and jellies you can make at home, I recommend this little book to start with:
Tutorial on Making Healthy Juices with a Steam Juicer
Here are some basic instructions. I would also recommend you go to YouTube and watch videos there. What did we ever do before YouTube?! Oh, yeah, we read books.
How to make your own fruit juice
Prepare the Fruit
- First, if you’re going to wash your fruit, wash it. Even though I don’t use pesticides, I wash my fruit because I live in a dusty climate.
- Pit, core or de-stem your fruit. Seeds can be left in your fruit, though. You’re really just removing all those other parts to make more room for fruit in your steam juicer. I’m usually too lazy to take grapes off their stems and just put everything into the steam juicer.
- You can use less than perfect fruit for making healthy juices because the steam juicer doesn’t care about bruises.
Filling the Steam Juicer and Setting it Up
- Place your fruit inside the strainer basket that comes with the steam juicer. To get the most amount of juice, really fill the basket with fruit. Be sure you can tightly secure the lid on the top.
- Fill the steam bottom section about 3/4 full with water and place on high heat to start the process.
- Place the collecting pan on top of the bottom section. This pan will collect all the juice that’s pulled out of your fruit by the steam and is the section with the tubing attached to it. The juice runs through the tube from the collecting pan into clean, prepared jars. I use quart of half gallon sized canning jars.
- ALWAYS keep the clamp on the tube so that you don’t lose it. During operation, you can hang the tube up on the handle by the clamp to keep it out of your way. FYI, the clamp will sometimes leak because of pressure variations, so each time you use it, keep that in mind.
- Also bear in mind that as you push the clamp in, the juice will come out…and so will some wicked hot steam. Always keep your hand behind the clamp to avoid seriously scalding yourself. I think I may have uttered a few unladylike choice phrases every time I burned myself forgetting to keep my hand out of the way.
- On top of the collecting pot, you place the basket in which you’ve placed your fruit, followed by the lid. It’s important to secure the lid tightly. Otherwise, your steam will escape and you’ll get nothing, except a steam facial.
Some Tips on Using the Steam Juicer
- Make sure you keep the water level at least halfway up the bottom steamer or you’ll burn up the bottom of your pan and the process will stop. Ask me how I know. The pan will be fine with some cleaning but you’ll waste your time. Make a habit of checking your water level often.
- The steamer basket can be emptied when you feel you’ve extracted all the fruit has to give. To make sure you get all the juice you can, use a potato masher to press down your fruit. If you have more fruit to process, refill the basket and place right back on the unit. After checking your water level, of course.. All that left over mash makes a great treat for your chickens or pigs…or compost pile.
- The process of making healthy juice with a steam juicer works like any other steaming device. Don’t let all the parts confuse you. You’re creating steam, putting in fruit to cook and then taking out the spent fruit. The only difference is with a steam juicer is that you’re sucking the life blood out of the fruit so there’s a tube. Sort of a violent process when you think about it.
Finishing up with the Steam Juicer
- As the steam pulls the juice from the fruit, the collection pot begins to fill up. As the collection pot fills, so will the tubing so make sure you’ve got it elevated so it doesn’t leak.
- When you feel like it’s been long enough, place the tube end in a glass jar and release the clamp. Time will vary but give the steam enough time to thoroughly heat the fruit. Also, watch for the tubing to fill up with juice.
- Make sure you don’t leave the juice too long in the collection pot or it will overflow into your bottom pot. You’ll end up with your wonderful, healthy juices all over your stove. What? That wasn’t me; that just happened to someone I know.
Jar Filling Tip and Finishing
We usually build a tower of buckets in front of the stove for the jars to stand on. The glass gets too hot to hold as the jars fill and this brings the jar right to your tubing.
You can hot process these jars of healthy juice and seal them for storage according to the times found at the National Center for Home Preservation. The juice will most likely only need five or ten minutes in a water bath canner.
You can also refrigerate your healthy juice and drink it within a week.
When you’re done with your steam juicer, simply wash all the parts. Make sure to run hot, soapy water through the tubing. Remember to attach that clamp to your unit when you’re done washing and drying it so you don’t lose it. Losing your clamp would be remarkably inconvenient and messy.
The plum juice varies in color depending on the plum variety. We’ve had shades of pinks and reds. The Concord grapes turn out a deep, deep purple. The apricots, of course, made a lovely orange colored juice. We only canned a gallon or two of the plum the first year because we weren’t sure we’d like it. We made much more the next year. That first year we did almost nine gallons of grape juice! We see what our inventory of leftover juices is in fall in order to gauge how much we really need for a year.
We also plan some for the neighbors – quart jars of juice make nice gifts at Christmastime.
Don’t forget to email me for that free sample from The Do It Yourself Homestead! We hope the book will be of use to you, but don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what avid gardener and author Chris MacLaughlin has to say about it: