I started juicing when I was in school. Every so often I would make a 2-cup “green lemonade” (my go-to recipe combined kale, lemon, cucumber, and apple), pour it into a mason jar, and take it to-go. Going to a more “granola” university, a green juice in the mid-to-late 2000s was not unusual. In fact, a fellow student of mine insisted on being barefoot in class, which always shocked me (for reasons only having to do with comfort), especially mid-winter. And I personally believe being barefoot in class trumps my green juice for left-leaning crunchiness.
Freshly pressed juices are something I choose to make almost exclusively in the warm weather when the produce is abundant (and less expensive) and my appetite is slightly dulled due to the heat. So I’ve quite literally dusted off my juicer for the season and am now ready for the kitchen counter deluge of seasonal produce that’s about to happen over the next 3 to 4 months (Can You Juice That? Is the only summer drinking game I need, thank you very much).
I’ve made several combinations this week, favouring a heartier root vegetable-based brew grounded with beets or carrots or a combination––the currently unrivalled root vegetable concoction happening in my kitchen, carrot, orange, fennel, and ginger juice, drinks like candy. Still, there’s something about green juice recipes that infuses me with that sort of youthful curiosity that sparked my love of plant-based cooking many years ago in the first place. Maybe it’s the colour, the energy it gives me after I’m done downing my glass, or the fact that I can juice a leaf (you must admit, that’s pretty cool), but green juice is this kind of kind of magic elixir that puts the pep back into my step.
How to Make Delicious Juice: Juicing 101
The green juice recipe that I have here is a great base model for if you’re just warming up to the idea of drinking something with a hue this psychedelic. The kale’s grassiness is tamed with a bit of sweet apple (Canadian ingredient note: I’m loving these apples for juicing––delicious, crisp (haven’t found a bruise yet), and helps to reduce food waste). I add a knob of ginger because of its digestive benefits and spicy zing, cucumber to bulk things up, celery for natural saltiness, and fresh herbs for that something extra.
Green juice is on the lighter side, but you can go heartier by simply changing up your ingredients. If you’re working with starchier, denser root vegetables (e.g. carrots, beets, sweet potatoes), think warm, spicy tastes: fennel, orange, ginger, and tomato will add the richness and heartiness you’re after.
Starchier vegetables with a naturally high sugar content like beets and carrots don’t necessarily need fruit to sweeten things up, but I’ll usually add an apple, orange, or pear to lighten the brew. Green juice can be bitter so I’ll always add something to take the edge off; a small piece of pineapple can work wonders, ditto an apple, orange, or pear. For me, juice has to be a little sweet (but not overly so) to be enjoyable––if it’s not, I tend to avoid fresh juice altogether.
Like the balance of flavors, you’ll need a complimentary melange of vegetables and/or fruit to make the juice, well, juicy. For any fresh juice, a balance of drier vegetables/fruit and vegetables/fruit with a high water content is recommended.
Through your juicer’s feed tube, start with the drier vegetables/fruit first (e.g. kale), finishing with the vegetables/fruit with the highest water content (e.g. apple). This dry-to-wet method of operation helps the machine out, producing a better tasting and textured juice.
Clearly if you want to make juice at home and implement these tips, you’ll need some equipment. I use a Breville juicer which gets the job done in about 5 seconds, however, there are tutorials for how to juice without a juicer around the web (I like this blender tutorial best: How to Juice in a Blender). The blender method takes a bit more hands-on time but works fine, so don’t run out and purchase a juicer right this second.
However you feel about juicing, I think we can all get behind increasing our consumption of fresh produce and using up what we have in our refrigerators to reduce food waste. Plus, juice is delicious, and that’s reason enough to try one out this summer (even if you make it into cocktail––antioxidants, am I right?).
- 3 to 6 large kale leaves
- ½ cup fresh herbs such as cilantro, mint, basil, or a combination
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger
- 1 stalk celery
- 2 Persian (baby) cucumbers or half an english cucumber
- 1 apple, quartered
- Turn juicer on high. Feed ingredients through juicer tube in order listed. Pour into a glass and drink immediately.