The juiceman cometh
April 19, 2004 3:57 PM   Subscribe

There are numerous reasons proffered to drink juice. It's easier to drink a small serving of juice than to eat a large serving of fruits and vegetables; that much is intuitive. An oft-plagiarized article claims that juicing frees nutrients that otherwise could not be absorbed, cites 1940s research that chlorophyll can aid in hemoglobin synthesis, and claims that 1 cup of carrot juice has the nutritional content of 4 cups of chopped carrots (although cranking the numbers [pdf] gives an answer closer to 2 cups.) Skeptics argue that much of this talk is hype, correctly noting that juice is not a miracle disease cure as some hucksters claim, and that by juicing you are discarding beneficial fiber. But absurd juicing claims aside, is there any reason needed beyond the great taste? [more inside]
posted by quarantine (18 comments total)
You can juice things unusual to Americans. Stroll through the aisles of import shops and you'll find juices such as tamarind, loquat, lychee, and bale fruit. Clever people are working on ways to commercialize cashew apple juice (you have to find a way to decrease the polyphenols to make it palatable) and banana juice (extraction involves enzymatic reactions and a centrifuge.)

But if you're worried about the quality, freshness, or nutritional value of commercial juice, you can always make your own. There are three main varieties of home juicers. Masticating juices "chew" the material, can extract juice from tough leafy greens, and can frequently do other tasks such as making baby food, but are slow and can be hard to clean. Centrifugal juicers are highly efficient but limit the amount of juice you can make in one go, as they need to be repeatedly emptied (a task made easier since the introduction of disposable cellulose filters.) Pulp ejection juicers are a breeze to clean up and allow continuous low-pulp juicing, but are less efficient (and therefore more expensive to operate.) The 68 lb., $2000 Norwalk Juicer is considered the ultimate by some, grinding then hydraulically pressing the material -- but at ten times the price of the others, you had better be sure that your juicing interest is not a passing fancy.

And no link evidentiary link here, just cautionary personal experience: the best way to simulate a liter of nasal mucus while generating less than a cc of usable juice is to try to run nopales through a centrifugal juicer.
posted by quarantine at 3:59 PM on April 19, 2004

whos that orange guy? hes awesome.
posted by Satapher at 4:04 PM on April 19, 2004

Caipirinhas are my reason to drink juice.
posted by knutmo at 4:05 PM on April 19, 2004

Someone's in the pay of the American Juicing Federation...
posted by i_cola at 4:06 PM on April 19, 2004

"discarding beneficial fiber" : That's why I pour my grape juice over my Cheerios instead of milk. ;-P
posted by mischief at 4:18 PM on April 19, 2004

The Juiceman
posted by loquax at 4:19 PM on April 19, 2004

Juicing is bad for blood sugar levels since the sugars are absorbed more quickly than through normal digestion. That is if you juice a lot every day you can develop problems. Although I read cinnamon counter-acts this by regulating sugar absorption and it taste great in juice drinks.

I own a juicer and use it on occasional to get rid of old vegetables that otherwise would be tossed it works great for that. But for sweet things like carrots and oranges they taste better and are IMO better for you in the whole state.

My brother drank tons of carrot juice every day and is now severely allergic to carrots.. basically anything you eat on a daily basis can lead to allergies.. milk, eggs and wheat are the most commonly allergic foods.
posted by stbalbach at 4:19 PM on April 19, 2004

i_cola: Hmmm, found one Google ref to "American Juicing Federation", in an offhand comment from Harvard Business School's student newspaper. Is it a Cattlemen's Beef Association-style industry group, a PCRM-style biased advocacy group, or something else? And with only one Google match, are you sure you've got the name right?
posted by quarantine at 4:22 PM on April 19, 2004

I've been a juicer for a while now, not as often as I used to (juicers are usually a bit of a hassle to clean) but I loved making just a basic Apple and Ginger juice. Kept me healthy and tastes great too.

And, if you are curious, pomegranates do not juice well in a centrifugal juicer. The juice might be good for peeling paint but it ain't good for drinking.
posted by fenriq at 4:23 PM on April 19, 2004

Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I juice ~4 apples, ~8 carrots, ~12 radishes, and a clove of garlic, chug that sucker, then sleep for 12 hours.

I ususally wake up with the cold gone.

Don't know if it's the placebo effect or what, but it works for me.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:37 PM on April 19, 2004

Tell us how you like it, Veggie Boy.
posted by briank at 7:52 PM on April 19, 2004

AHHHHH overgrown oompa loompa
posted by Satapher at 11:38 PM on April 19, 2004

You can really taste the kale.
posted by funkbrain at 12:37 AM on April 20, 2004

does anyone know the facts behind the benefits or detriments of pasteurization of juice? i know the local juicers are against federal regulations, and i tend to side with them only so that i can keep getting my weekly wheatgrass fix at full strength.
posted by NationalKato at 8:46 AM on April 20, 2004

It depends on how the juice is pasteurized, but the main complaint in vitamin loss (especially vitamin C). The traditional method used for pasteurization is conventional heating, and entails about a 30% vitamin loss:

The common complaint against pasteurization shared by Genesis and other raw juice companies is that the heat treatment destroys the vitamins and enzymes in the juice. True, but stomach acids destroy the enzymes, and the vitamin loss (estimated at 30 per cent) is negligible considering that one 8 oz glass of pasteurized orange juice easily exceeds the Recommended Dietary Allowance. (Food Safety Network, University of Guelph, Canada)

Other methods can be better or worse. A radiation dosage of 20 kiloGrays (2 megarads) will destroy 89% of the vitamin C in orange juice, but microwave radiation sufficient to pasteurize results in only 20% reduction. (Koutchma and Shmalts 2002).

From the juice fact sheet from the National Food Processors Association [US]:

Q: Is there a labeling requirement for unpasteurized juices?

A: Yes. With the exception of certain citrus juice manufacturers operating under an FDA exemption, all containers of unpasteurized juice sold in interstate commerce must bear the following statement: "Warning: this product has not been pasteurized and, therefore, may contain harmful bacteria which can cause serious illness in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems." This labeling requirement does not apply to juices sold by the glass at juice bars or in restaurants; consumers may want to ask if the juice they are being served has been pasteurized.

It's a real hazard: you can get quite sick from spoiled unpasteurized juice, and it goes bad pretty quickly. I bought a half gallon of fresh apple cider in Concord, Mass. a couple of years ago, then left it in my hotel room. Fortunately the smell gave the spoilage away 36 hours later.

The FDA Fresh Produce Subcommittee concludes that active safety intervention is required for fresh juice, but that for some fruit this can be accomplished by surface washing and proper sanitizing of juicing machinery.

The goal is a 5 log reduction in certain target pathogens such as E. coli. I don't see any indication that anyone will be taking your wheatgrass away from you any time soon, but I know that my local juicer has stopped carrying ginger due to its propensity for developing hazardous mold (you've probably seen it at home: it's that hairy blue stuff that grows on ginger if you leave it too long in your crisper drawer.)

Also see the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) information for juice at the FDA site.
posted by quarantine at 10:39 AM on April 20, 2004

quarantine: I was just funnin' ya ;-)

BTW, don't put ginger in the fridge. Like garlic it should be kept in a dark place.
posted by i_cola at 12:25 PM on April 20, 2004

i_cola: The light goes out when you close the door, you know. ;-)
posted by quarantine at 12:58 PM on April 20, 2004

enzyme loss is another big problem with pasteurization.
posted by stbalbach at 8:03 PM on April 20, 2004

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