Recently, I used a juice extractor for the first time. It was just like Christmas! Leaving nothing to chance, my neighbor had bought herself one as a birthday present. She was kind enough to lend it to me.
I had been looking at these impressive towers of stainless steel in seed and kitchen catalogs for years, trying to figure out how they performed all the miracles claimed by the descriptions. (These gizmos extract juice from fruits, vegetables, and even meats!) I finally got to witness one in action–it was impressive.
A juice extractor is basically a mega-steamer. The whole affair consists of three stacking sections. The bottom pan holds the boiling water. The steam rises through a hole in the second section (shaped like a deep tube pan), cooking the food in the top steamer basket. As the food in the top section cooks, juices are released and collect in the center section and eventually syphon away through an attached hose into your canning jars or another container. The clear hose is clamped shut when not needed to decant the boiling juice of whatever is loaded into the top section (a large-capacity steamer basket) and being cooked by the rising steam.
I processed about a half bushel of concord grapes given to me free for the picking by some kind neighbors. (I also steam juiced about a peck of apples we had picked from a small “wild” apple tree growing along the road to a local county park.) After rinsing away bugs and dust, I picked the grapes from the vines and filled the steamer basket. I prepared the apples by rinsing and coring them and then paring away all the bad spots. I did each fruit separately but could have mixed them. I could have layered sugar with the fruit when I loaded the top section, but I wanted to keep my options open in case I wanted to use the juice extracted to make grape jelly later.
The result was 7 ½ quarts of grape juice and 2 quarts of apple juice. At first the juice ran quickly and when it dwindled to a trickle, I knew the batch of juice was extracted. It took about an hour for a the juice from a full steamer basket of grapes to express. After extracting the juice from the fruit, I water bath canned the juice for 15 minutes. I returned one quart of grape juice to the neighbor who had given me the fruit and promised to show her how to make jelly later.
I threw the residual pulp onto my compost pile and washed and dried the extractor immediately after use. It is nice to have another way to easily convert marginal fruit and generous “windfalls” from neighbors and friends into a product that is easy to process and store. Begonia