Benefits of having a steam juicer
Did you know that you can make your own delicious fruit cordials at home?
If you were lucky enough to grow up in the country or had a family member with a farm, maybe you remember watching mom or grandma preserving foods in a big pressure canner. Preserving food used to be a big part of being a good house keeper - being able to go and buy any food we want, when we want is still a fairly recent phenomenon.
If you remember watching this, you may also have seen a steam juicer being used, to make and preserve fruit juices. Like a pressure canner a steam juicer sterilizes food (juice in this case) so that it can be kept in bottles and jars for a long time without refrigeration.
Just because it is old technology does not mean that the steam juicer has lost its place. There are in fact many good reasons why many people still bring their juicers out every late summer to autumn (the time where ripe fruit is plentiful) and make their traditional favorite cordials. For one thing, there is the satisfaction of using up your home grown produce, be it apples form your own trees or berries and other fruits you have picked yourself. Seeing these foods turn into a delicious juice that you can bring out in the middle of winter is a really satisfying thing.
Then there are concerns about artificial preservatives, flavorings, and other additives in commercial fruit juice drinks. it is no secret that manufacturers add many unhealthy ingredients to make their products look good and keep forever, and if you have someone in your family who is sensitive to fake color or flavor compounds then making your own juice can be much safer. Even if you are not allergic or sensitive to these products there is no doubt whatsoever that home made is just better for you. You alone control what goes in to your juice, so you know it is safe for everyone.
Using a steam juicer is really quite simple. Essentially there are only three parts to a juicer, these being the bottom pan, the top pan, and the fruit basket. Plus a lid to put on the very top of course.
The bottom pan gets filled with water and put on the stove to boil. The Upper pan is placed over it, and as the steam rises form the lower pan it passes through the hole in the center of the top pan. Now when you hang the fruit basket in the top pan, and fill it with fruit, that rising steam is forced to go through the fruit in the hanging basket. The heat in the steam slowly cooks the fruit, causes the skins to break open, and the water from the steam gradually replaces the liquid inside the fruit. The juice slowly drip out of the broken fruit, collecting in the upper pan from where you then tap it off at regular intervals.
The whole process, from putting your ingredients in to tapping off the finished juice takes between 45 minutes and nearly 2 hours, depending on what fruit you are juicing in your steam juicer. Generally speaking harder fruits like crunchy apples take the longest, while soft fruits like berries are done fairly fast.
As you make juice, you will develop your own tastes for sweetness and concentration. As a rule of thumb, the first 4 or 5 bottles worth of juice from every batch are the best. After this the juice has a bit of a "faded" taste, as most of the good flavor has been extracted by the steam juicer. Unless you are very short of ingredients it is best to empty out the fruit pulp after this time and put in fresh fruit. By the way, the pulp composts beautifully to make rich soil for use again in your garden.
Adding sugar to the juice made in your steam juicer is a contentious issue. Sugar is not good to have any more of than you need, but sour juice is not very nice. There is also the problem that sugar actually plays a big role in helping preserve foods, as it inhibits the growth of bacteria in low acidity foods. A good compromise is to add no more than a cup of sugar to each batch of juice. I find it best to simply pour the dry sugar on top of the fruit in the steam juicer - it soon dissolves and mixes in evenly this way. While this may still leave the juice a little tart, it helps to keep it from going off for a long time. To sweeten it further without more refined sugar, I just add several very ripe pears to a batch of fruit - the natural sugar is just as sweet, and is quite a bit better for you.
Where can I buy a steam juicer?
Because most people don't make their own juice anymore, steam juicers are a little hard to buy in shops now. Many health food stores or shops that sell preserving equipment are able to order them in for you, alternatively, look to an online store.
Ebay often lists second hand steam juicers, and because there is not much that can go wrong with them, this can be a good cheap option.
Alternatively you may need to buy brand new one, from an online shopping place like Amazon. Remember to shop around before you buy - there are many other online stores out there that compete heavily to set the lowest price.