Summer continues to tick down the weeks. Temperatures have dropped. School has started. Sunburns have faded. Trees in the high country are blushed with fall hues. And if you garden… you are overrun with fresh produce. Yes, this is a prolific time of year.
Many of you have pulled out the canners, sterilized your jars, and stood for hours in a hot kitchen waiting for the ping to sound. It is a great way to preserve the harvest for winter months. Imagine opening those summer flavors during January when most of our gardens lay at rest? Yes, canning is worthwhile. But just how much more are you ready or willing to can? Have you run out of jars? Running out of space in your pantry? Or perhaps you can’t face another day in a hot kitchen?
When I have trouble keeping up with all of that wonderful summer bounty, instead of reaching for the canner, I grab my juicer instead. A modern juicer is capable of taking fruits and vegetables and turning them into juice within a matter of seconds. Granted, items like a thick rind has to be removed first (check your juicer’s instruction manual for details). For example with my Breville Juicer, it is recommended to remove the rinds of citrus, the top and skin of a pineapple, but is able to easily juice a whole apple (removing stems and seeds not required).
I love to experiment with different combinations of vegetables and fruit. Kale juices beautifully, but a little kale goes a long ways and for me, a juice of nothing but kale would be too strongly herbal in flavor. However, if a couple of kale leaves are juiced with a cucumber, small beet, and a couple of carrots, the overall flavor of the juice is slightly sweet and very refreshing.
Juicing is a great way to enjoy lots of fruits and vegetables at once. Now while I would have a hard time eating three oranges at one sitting, drinking the juice of three oranges would be quite easy to do. Now imagine doing that with tomatoes, carrots, beets, cucumbers, and assorted greens such as spinach and lettuce. For those of you with small children, it can also be a great way to get vegetables in their diet if they refuse to eat things like broccoli or dark, leafy greens. Adding a fruit, such as an apple, sweetens and brightens the flavor of an otherwise all vegetable juice and makes it much more palatable to young ones.
Besides enjoying the fresh juice, I like to save the pulp from the juicing process. Not only does the pulp provide fiber, but it also serves as a great addition to soups, stew, and casserole dishes. If you are not keen on the fiber, you could also feed it to animals such as chickens. (My hens get the fiber leftover from the juicing process as a summertime treat).
So the next time you have an abundant supply of produce and can’t bear the thought of canning another batch in a hot kitchen, reach for a juicer instead. They juice items quickly, do not heat up a room, and are relatively easy to clean.