By Roberta Bailey
My mother always said that things cycle back into fashion every 30 years or so. Usually she was talking about the clothes in the attic. I am not sure if it is an age thing, but I am starting to believe her. Maybe I had to let enough years pass to actually see the cycles for myself. I’ve hit my 50s and all I see around me are cycles.
The trend toward eating local foods is one of them. I heard a young woman say that she didn’t drink orange juice anymore and it reminded me of a photograph that I have of my two children standing next to 200 canning jars of cider spread out to cool on the cabin floor. We didn’t have a freezer and we didn’t buy juices very often, so I canned a lot of cider and other juices. I have started to do that again.
I think the freshest flavored juice is freshly pressed and frozen. Cider from apples and pears is delicious. I have friends who freeze blended melon and watermelon with cider for a summer slushy drink. I like to make an elderberry concentrate and mix it with cider or press grapes with cider. Any berry can be added to vary the flavor. If you have a juicer the possibilities are endless. Carrot juice is reason enough to borrow or buy a juicer.
I also like to make cooked juices and can them. They are delicious, long lasting and a little easier to travel with than frozen juice. You don’t need any equipment other than a big pot and your canning supplies. Sometimes you can get fuller flavors with heating. Blackberries turn spicy. Cranberries develop that rich saucy flavor.
Below are some basic juice recipes that can be adapted to most fruits, and some more specific recipes. Experiment with combinations. If any juice is left next summer, make juicesicles!
Cider Berry Juice
Using raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, elderberries, cranberries or strawberries, fill your pot half full with berries. Cover with cider and then add half again the volume of cider (1 to 3 cups of cider per cup of berries, depending on how much berry flavor is desired). Heat to just below a boil and mash the berries. If desired, strain out the pulp by pouring the liquid through a jelly bag or a few thicknesses of cheesecloth – or leave the pulp in the juice. Sweeten to taste. It is usually pretty sweet. Fill jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace, and seal. Process in a 190 F hot water bath for 30 minutes.
Place de-stemmed grapes in a pot and cover them with water or apple cider. Heat slowly to a simmer and simmer until the grapes are soft. Mash them. Strain through several thicknesses of cheesecloth or a jelly bag. Let cool and strain again. The second straining removes the tartaric acid crystals, which lend a sharp, unpleasant taste to the juice. Sweeten to taste. Heat to a simmer and can in sterilized jars leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Process in a 190 F hot water bath for 30 minutes.
Place de-stemmed elderberries in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes. Mash berries to release flavor. Strain through cheesecloth or a jelly bag. Sweeten to taste. Sometimes I add lemon juice for a bit of zip. This year I added some blackberries that needed to be used. Can as other juices above.
For every cup of cranberries, add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and cook until the berries burst. Mash them. Strain through cheesecloth or a jelly bag. Sweeten to taste. Can as the juices above but for 20 rather than 30 minutes. I have added orange juice for a cran-orange variation. Add and taste until it is to your liking.
25 large tomatoes, cored and quartered
6 medium unpeeled cucumbers, cubed
4 medium peppers, red or green
5 to 7 stalks celery, chunked
3 medium zucchini and 3 summer squash, cubed
5 to 7 medium-sized carrots, coarsely chopped
2 to 4 large onions, peeled and cubed
2 c. greens, such as Swiss chard, lettuce or spinach
1 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
4 c. water
1/2 c. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. honey or sweetener
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3 to 5 sprigs fresh parsley and/or cilantro
2 sprigs fresh basil
Simmer all ingredients in a large kettle over low heat for about 40 to 50 minutes. Stir and mash vegetables. Strain through a fine sieve, forcing out as much juice as possible. Heat to a boil, then pour into sterile jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Pressure can at 10 pounds pressure, pints for 50 minutes and quarts for 70 minutes. Yields 6 to 8 quarts.
Roberta has written Harvest Kitchen for The MOF&G for many cycles.