Sunday, October 12, 2008

VeganMoFo: Juice and a Product Review

I am admittedly an orange snob. But I come by this problem entirely honestly. When I was young my grandparents owned a small farm just north of Porterville, CA, an area rich in citrus groves. They had orange trees on their property, and grew a great deal of other crops as well. Many of my earliest memories are from time spent on "the farm", helping Grandpa pull carrots and making mud pies with my sister and cousins (I can still remember the very specific smell of the dirt). 

As a result of all this time spent spoiled by fresh, seasonal produce there are still a few things that I just don't bother with unless they are homegrown, or ripe straight off the farm. Tomatoes are one. If they are not in season I don't eat them raw. I just don't see the point, they are absolutely insipid nine months out of the year, and always if purchased at a grocery store. The other fruit I don't bother to eat much out of season are oranges. It is difficult to convey the qualitative difference between that which is sold in most mega-marts and that which is ripened on the tree. It is an absolute revelation if you've never had one. My dad has actually talked my boss, who has a ranch in the area, into bringing us boxes of oranges and tangerines from our favorite farm in Porterville a couple times during the season because they are just incomparable to anything we can get in our area. I look forward to them every year, eat three a day when we have them, and am always sad to see the end of the season. I know that living in California affords me the opportunity to be extra picky about my citrus and for that I am thankful.

I equally picky about orange juice. If it is not fresh I'd rather not drink it. Trader Joe's in my area carries an orange juice that is not pasteurized which is the only store-bought orange juice I like; it tastes nearly fresh-squeezed. But it is a treat, since it is not inexpensive. That is why I was so excited to find locally grown Valencia oranges at my farmer's market at $5 for 10 pounds. B juiced it for me yesterday and we got well over a quart of juice, making it cheaper and even yummier than what we can get at TJ's. 

10 pounds of oranges peeled and ready to be put through the juicer.

We use a macerating juicer which we love for a couple of reasons. If you want to juice "dry" vegetables like carrots or wheat grass this is what you have to use. It also works slowly and as a result does not heat up, keeping the juice raw. It can also preform a number of other tasks, including making nut butters, shaping pasta, and instant fresh sorbet. There is nothing wrong with a regular old citrus juicer, which is probably what most people have. However, we put this in a head-to-head competition with the citrus juicer that attaches to my KitchenAid and the Omega produced twice the amount of juice as the citrus juicer from the same number of oranges. We also like very pulpy orange juice, but I don't necessarily want to chew it. The Omega puts out a generous amount of very fine pulp that is just delicious. It also comes with a filter if you prefer less pulp. 

We are coming in to citrus season. If you can get your hands on a big bag of oranges from your farmer's market or a local farmer, seize the opportunity. If they are not particularly good out of hand, juice them. As a general rule, Valencia oranges are for juicing and navels are for eating, but if you can get them in-season they are a yummy and healthy way to get another serving of fruit regardless of what type you find available.


Monique a.k.a. Mo said...

Gah! Your killing me with the orange juiciness!

Jen Treehugger said...

That's one mean mother of a juicer!! All that juice (at breakfast time - check) is making my mouth water!!

Bethany said...

I love fresh squeezed and pulpy. thanks for the info on the type of juicer you use. It's interesting that it's cheaper than premade stuff.

I buy Simply Orange and it's the best tasting premade juice I've found so far. Andy drinks it all the time, even w/ things that OJ shouldn't be paired with. I can't drink much citrus because of the acid - which sucks.