Making Juice (and applesauce!) at Home

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When you have three trees full of ripe apples in the back yard...

And a whole bunch of ripe grapes, too...

It's time to get to work picking! Thankfully, our trees are pretty small, so there are tons of apples that our kids can pick without any trouble at all.

It only takes a few pleasant minutes of picking in order to get bags full of apples!

First you toss those apples into the sink and wash 'em. Ours are never sprayed with any pesticides, so we're pretty much cleaning off bird doo and spider webs. :)

You don't technically *have to* take the grapes off their stems, but I do. Otherwise, the grape juice turns out really bitter.

This is my steam juicer. It's really cool. The bottom pan holds water. The second pan is like a bundt cake pan, with a cone in the center that goes upward. This allows the steam from the heated water to travel upwards to the third level, which is a colander where the fruit sits.
You just load up the colander with fruit, put on the top, and heat up the bottom, and leave it for awhile. (apples take 90 minutes or so, grapes only 60 minutes) After that you unclamp the little tube that comes out from the side of the second pan, and out comes juice!
Here you can see some pitchers and a jar of finished juice. Although we make the apple and grape juice separately, we combine them in the pitchers to make apple-grape juice. We find that the taste isn't that great unless a sweetener is added. I use some plain liquid stevia (about 3-4 droppers full per 2-qt. pitcher) and that makes it taste really great without adding any calories OR any sugar. Just wonderful, organic, homemade juice!

At this point you can choose to can jars of juice if you want to, or you can freeze it, or just store it in the fridge and drink it right away. I don't really have the wherewithall to get into the canning right now so we've just made juice a couple of times a week and had it to drink at breakfast. We've also enjoyed giving some to friends. :)

Now, what's left in the colander at the top of the steam juicer is a bunch of cooked-down, miserable-looking apples. Good news: You don't have to waste it! Just turn it into applesauce!
We use our food mill to make quick work of this. You just pour the mushy apples into the top funnel of this gizmo, turn the crank (easily kid-powered) and out one side comes nice, fresh applesauce, and out the other side comes all of the skin, seeds, and stems. We used plastic containers to freeze our applesauce, and took the other stuff to the compost pile. Easy!

One steam juicer colander-full of apples makes about 2-3 quarts of juice plus a 9x13 pan of applesauce. not bad, eh?

The applesauce also benefits from some liquid stevia being mixed in, so again you can enjoy a sweet treat without sugar! You can make popsicles with the apple sauce, use applesauce in place of some oil in certain kinds of baking, or make applesauce bread, which is one of the things I did. Mmmmmmm mmmmmmm good!

We're out of juice again, so I'll be starting this process again later today. Wish me luck! :)

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