Category Archives: Sustainable Gear

Juicer Talk

 
beet-whip1

I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately about my juicer so I thought it was time to give juicing it’s own entry.

I’ve juiced for many years (over 20…does that age me?) and am a huge fan. Back in the day we would get up on Saturday mornings, go run Greenlake and then come back and make a large juice while cooking breakfast. It gives you tons of healthy energy and makes you feel great. Have you ever been to a real juice bar and seen how the employees all seem to glow? I’m not talking about Jamba Juice here, I’m talking about a place where you can get something with leafy greens, carrot oranges and beet reds massacred right before your eyes.

One great thing about juicing with kids is that it allows you to get veggies into them they would otherwise go nowhere near. I’ve been writing about Chicken Little’s obsession lately with the beet whip. Last night we made a round of carrot with a touch of seasonal albeit non-local lime that tasted surprisingly like orange juice.

Chocolate shakes are a great way to hide green, orange and red juiced veggies. Berry shakes are a great way to hide things juiced beets and elderberries. Orange shakes are a great way to hide juiced carrots. These all can be made into healthy popsicles or ice cream with little to no added sugars. Beet juice can be used to color frosting or home canned cherries that otherwise turn brownish. Beet, carrot or spinach juice can be used to tint pasta or breads or mashed potatoes or soft cheese spreads. Juices can be your best friend when trying to make school lunches or picnics playful.

beet-pink-muffin

I know there are many out there who argue you lose the fiber when you juice but it does allow you to get more raw nutrients than you can get by eating vegetables. Because fruits are very high in sugars I don’t typically make fruit juice. Instead I prefer to put fruits into smoothies where you get the fiber and added fat and protein together, making it easier on your body.  So when I talk about juice here I mean juice from vegetables.

I’m on my second juicer now.  The first was a cheapo juicer from Target that put me out around $30.  The last was the top of the line juicer you could get there, an Omega similar to this one.

They are both centrifugal force juicers which have tubes allowing you to feed the veggies into a screened central chamber inside the juicer body which spins around at very high speeds and forces the juice out of the veggie through tiny holes in the screen.

carrot-beet-apple-juice1

You end up with a nearly fiber-less juice, very rich in color and true in flavor with quite a bit of foam which you can skim off the top of the glass. These juicers are very loud, difficult to clean, and require cleaning frequently if you are making more than one glass of juice at a time.

They are great entry level juicers and the most recent one has lasted me probably 15 years. But I’m moving up for my husband’s birthday.

Read below in the comments from my wonder-reader Auburn who just inspired me and spent quite a bit of time researching juicers.

I’m planning to get a masticating juicer (probably the Omega J8003 because it’s an older model and quite a bit less money.)  Auburn recently got the Omega J8006 which also grinds nuts and meat and somehow makes pasta although I’m a little confused by how.

Masticating juicers are quieter, extract more juice, don’t shake off the counter if you aren’t holding on to them, and the inner chamber doesn’t fill up with plant parts so you can continue juicing as long as you like before stopping to take the juicer apart, clean it up and then begin juicing again.

I also looked into getting a Vita-Mix Blender because they claim you can juice fruits and vegetables in the blender and then strain out the pulp to make a clear juice like a masticating juicer does. I was suspicious when I read that the blades move so fast they heat your veggies up for soup and Auburn confirmed my suspicions that they would also heat up your veggies. Plus the extra step of having to strain out the fiber has convinced me to get a real juicer.

Hopefully you found this post helpful if you are researching juicers.

I want to point out that these Amazon links are affiliate links and I hope you’ll consider using them if you were going to be shopping online anyway. It helps to fund this blog.

The Grain Mill

family-grain-mill

I easily justified buying a grain mill once I saw how cheaply you can purchase bulk wheat berries which store very well in airtight containers in the garage.  Deciding on the right grain mill took forever.  For me it came down to an issue of counterspace and cupboard space.  We have a tiny kitchen with neither.  I spent whole nights on breadmaking forums and googling for grain mills.  It seems you can either spend about $200 or about $1,000.  There wasn’t much in between.

The romantic idea of manually grinding my own grain soon disappeared when I read posts on how long it actually took to grind enough for a few loaves of bread (30 minutes?)  The people who did it didn’t mind because it was exercise they quipped.  Clearly their lives do not border on the degree of chaos and insanity that mine does.

In the end I chose the Family Grain Mill because it uses steel plates which gives you stone ground flour at a low temperature, lets you adjust the size of the flour from fine to course with a “crack” setting which is perfect for steel cut oats or making cream of wheat style cereal, and has an optional roller which would allow you to make rolled wheat, spelt or oats.

Nash’s organic produce in Sequim is working on a hull-less oat right now that would be perfect for rolling.  Until then though I think you have to buy oats already rolled because of the technicalities of removing the hull.   You can, however, roll regular wheat berries to eat as muesli or to put in granola.

If you are researching grain mills the Everything’s Kitchen website seems to have the best prices I have found but you really need to know what you want before you go there.  If you have the counterspace, the mill I read about again and again that everyone loved is the Bosch Nutrimill Grain Mill 20-c
but it’s huge.

What I love about my mill is that it’s so small it’s no big deal to take it out to grind a cup of flour at a time.  Everyone who bought the Nutrimill seemed to do a month’s worth of flour and then store it in the cupboard.  I don’t get that – if you want to do that then why not just buy flour?  The point of the mill for me is grinding it right before I use it, so that the nutrients in the grain aren’t oxidizing like they do in any other food.  But to each his own.

Update – One year later:  I’ve been using this grain  mill extensively for almost a year now and considered getting another one.  But the more I thought about what I would want to change the more I decided this mill is perfect for me.  It is loud but when I got back on forums it sounded like even the “quiet” ones are loudish.  Here is what I love about this mill:

  • small footprint so I can leave it out on the counter all the time because I use it all the time.
  • the ability to adjust the grind of the flour.  It can crack grains for pin oats and cream of wheat style cereals, or to add to bread dough to make cracked wheat style bread.  It can grind fine enough to make great biscuits and muffins.  It can grind a “stone ground” size which is perfect for bread.  It is tough enough to grind dried corn which makes amazing cornbread and not all the grinders can handle that.
  • After a year of constant use it is holding up perfectly and requires virtually zero maintenance.

I want to point out that these Amazon links are affiliate links and I hope you’ll consider using them if you were going to be shopping online anyway. It helps to fund this blog.