Juicing, a verb that not only describes the process of making juice but also the act of dieting on it, is the first big food trend of 2012.
Juice bars have had an impressive presence in Los Angeles for a few years. Now many people take it upon themselves to produce homemade creations.
Celebrities preparing their bodies for the red carpets, for instance, diet on fresh-squeezed fruits. And those looking to shed the pounds from holiday season feasts might have heeded advice from best-selling, healthy-living author Kris Carr.
Her mantra: “Make juice, not war.”
As with most trends, USC students are not immune. You probably have heard the term juicing being thrown around Los Angeles lately, in reference to everything from fulfilling pre-yoga nourishment to a refreshing post-Las Vegas detox.
But you need not have an excuse to begin juicing. Think of an artisan version of the Juicy Juice you delightedly slurped down as a child. The simple pleasure of freshly squeezed orange and grapefruit juice is as old as the institution of brunch. But now, juice is being crafted with a particular eye for quality and creativity.
For juiceheads, juicing machines have replaced the simple handheld citrus reamer as the premier household juicing tool. This allows for the personal production of citrus-y juices as well as juices made from nutrient-rich greens and sugary melons.
There are two major types of mechanical juicers: masticating and centrifugal. Mastication is a process that involves slow-spinning blades that help extract a maximum amount of juice, often through self-churning. The faster method is centrifugal, in which whirring electric blades can juice a fruit or vegetable at rapid speeds, although it’s considered a less-efficient method of juicing.
For home-juicing, carrots, kale, apples and ginger make my personal favorite combination. An off-putting brown color might be the result — but as with mushrooms or cottage cheese, many of the best foods taste better than they look.
The ginger root adds an intriguing depth of flavor: You need only to place a small section in the juicer for a noticeable spiciness. For complementary tartness, add some lemon.
Freshly squeezed tomato juice can make a Bloody Mary infinitely better than a V8 or a store-bought mix. If you didn’t think you liked Bloody Marys, it’s likely because you’ve never had them prepared this way. The juice of fresh-pressed tomatoes retains flavor even with the potent additions of horseradish and Worcestershire sauce, both traditional ingredients for the cocktail.
If you have Popsicle molds, you can fill them with fresh juice for a healthy dessert. Or practice the old-school method: filling little Dixie cups with your fresh elixir of choice and inserting wooden sticks as the juice begins to harden. In this unseasonably warm weather, frozen orange or watermelon juices are a particularly refreshing option.
But for all the tasty and colon-cleansing benefits, juicing can also be a pain.
The produce necessary for juicing can get pricey. That’s why it’s smart to buy in bulk. Fruits and vegetables sold by the bagful, such as apples and carrots, should save you some money.
Juicing fruits and vegetables can also be time-consuming and difficult to clean up, so make juice in large batches.
Purchasing cheap glass bottles at Sur La Table or Target is an attractive and efficient way to store your creations. Their slim shape means they won’t take up too much refrigerator space, and with their tightly sealed caps, these bottles will keep juice fresh for days.
On that note, be sure to refrigerate juice. Doing so will keep it fresh and adding ice only waters down the flavor.
There are no real shortcuts to cleaning up your juicing machine. You only have to brush the filter and empty the spent organic matter once.
Besides, cleanup is a small price to pay for juices rich with the flavor and nutrients of greens, citruses and root vegetables. And it’s an even smaller price to pay when considering this: In the increasingly urban city of Los Angeles, sipping on fresh homemade juice will at least make you feel like you have a garden in a glass.
Bernard Leed is a junior majoring in narrative studies. His column “Amuse-Bouche” runs Wednesdays.