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How to Use a Steam Juicer

How to Use a Steam Juicer - LivingHomegrown.com

For the last 23 years, I preserved small to average sized crops because I grow much of my food on just 1/10th of an acre.

Oh sure – occasionally, I would get a bumper crop of fruit from a friend, etc. But for the most part, I didn’t have mass amounts of fruit at any given time.

All that changed 2 years ago.

Now that my family is working to restore an old 14 acre-farmstead (with over 60 heirloom fruit trees), my style of canning has gone into overdrive.

I still put up my small batches of produce from my own backyard. But when I am at the farmstead, I am doing large-scale canning.

Which brings me to my new favorite tool – a steam juicer.

I never felt I needed a steam juicer before because I considered them best for mass quantities of fruit. But after buying two (one for home and one for the farmstead), I now realize I should have bought one years ago.

A steam juicer is a great way to juice large OR small crops of produce (like berries, plums, peaches, apples, grapes and even tomatoes), which can later be used in juice, jelly, liqueur, or even wine. Here’s how they work…

 How to Use a Steam Juicer - LivingHomegrown.com

What is a Steam Juicer?

A steam juicer is a low-tech way to extract juice from fruit or veggies. It is simply a stack of nesting pots that sit on your stove. And it has a tube for pouring off the juice.

How to Use a Steam Juicer - LivingHomegrown.com

The top pot holds the fruit or vegetables in a colander so the steam can penetrate it. (Usually holds about 11 quarts) You just add the fruit (no need to peel or slice).

How to Use a Steam Juicer - LivingHomegrown.com

The middle pot has an opening to allow the steam to rise up through the center and a reservoir to collect the juice. It also has a small pipe and a tube where the juice can be syphoned off. A clip holds the juice in until you release it. (Usually holds about 4 quarts of juice at a time, but you can syphon off as you go.)

How to Use a Steam Juicer - LivingHomegrown.com

The bottom pot holds water and creates the steam. You just fill with water and keep it at a simmer to gentle boil.

The Advantages:

  1. Larger Quantities: You can do quite a bit of produce at a time. But since it is so easy to use, I now pull it out for small batches as well.
  2. Very Little Prep: You do NOT need to peel, cut, pit or de-stem the produce. Just wash it and throw it on top.
  3. Clear Juice: The steam does an excellent job of extracting all the juice and producing a clear liquid free from most pulp. If you need to, you can easily strain it for super clear liquid.
  4. Relatively Fast: It is really relatively fast with low input on our part. It is certainly easier than cooking down the fruit and straining it through cheesecloth or a jelly bag.
  5. Concentrated: Due to the fact that you are only getting juice (little fiber) and you are steaming off some of the water, you get a very concentrated juice.
  6. Easy to Use: I use my juicer while I am in the kitchen doing other things such as making jam or baking. I fill it up with unpeeled fruit, turn on the flame and then just keep an eye on it for 45 min to an hour until it’s done. That’s it! The result is clear juice.

What is it Best Used For?

I think a steam juicer is best used for making juice for jelly, but the possibilities are really endless. Some people use steam juicers to make clear juice for liqueur, cider or even wine.

The finished juice is unsweetened and ready for anything. I freeze mine until I am ready to make jelly (or something else) later. It works great for making tomato juice. After the fruit is done and cooled, I give the leftovers to the chickens.

Preserving in stages (like juicing and freezing for later) is really helpful.

How to Use a Steam Juicer

Steam vs. Mechanical Juicer

You may be wondering about why I would want a steam juicer instead of a mechanical juicer. It really depends upon what you need the juice for, how much produce you have to process and how much time you have.

A Steam Juicer:

  • Extracts the juice by heating the cells until they burst. The juice trickles out leaving pulp behind.
  • Produces a fairly clear liquid.
  • Creates a more concentrated juice. Due to the fact that it is pure juice (with less fiber) and you are steaming off some of the water, you also get a very concentrated juice.
  • Is not labor intensive. Although the steamer needs to be supervised, you are not actively doing anything but waiting.

A Mechanical Juicer:

  • Extracts by breaking the cells through crushing or grinding the produce.
  • Produces a less clear liquid with pulp.
  • Offers more nutrition due to fiber and no heat.
  • Requires you to actively process each piece of produce through the juicer. This is not an issue unless you are doing mass quantities.

PlumSyrup

So Heated Juice is Less Nutritious?

Yes – If you are going to drink the juice raw, you lose some of the health benefits with heat. The heat will destroy some of the vitamins and enzymes. So for the nutritional benefits of raw juice, a mechanical juicer is the way to go.

But, if you are using the juice in a heated recipe (like jelly), it doesn’t matter. In that case, a steam juicer is easier and faster.

Bonus Tips:

Tip #1 – Use Caution:

The juice is very, very hot and you must be super careful when siphoning it off into jars. Wear oven mitts and watch for splatters. Or let it cool in the juicer a bit before removing it.

Tip #2 – Don’t Press:

Do not be tempted to stir or press the fruit in the top tier. Doing so will drop all the pulp and skins into your juice. (I speak from experience.)

How to Use a Steam Juicer - LivingHomegrown.com

Tip #3 – Marbles:

Whenever you use a steam juicer, you need to keep an eye on the water level in the bottom section because you don’t want it to boil dry. But this is difficult when you are actively using it with heavy pots of fruit on top.

To solve this problem, I keep a few glass marbles in the bottom pan. That way, when the water level gets low, the marbles start to rattle really loudly alerting me that more water needs to be added.

Where to Buy:

You can get steam juicers all over the Internet or from a specialty cook store. (I got mine from Amazon because I have free Prime shipping.) They run anywhere from $50-$180 depending upon the type of metal they are (stainless vs. aluminum), their size and if they have a clear glass top or not.

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy® and is the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two teenage boys and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.