So you’ve decided to cut your fruit intake and ramp up your vegetables instead? Congrats – this is where the real fun in juicing begins 🙂
Juicing vegetables is as easy as can be, but there are a few simple vegetable juicing tips that when followed, will help you get the most out of your veggie juicing experience!
Tips for Juicing Vegetables #1: Juice squeaky clean produce
If you’ve ever peeped inside a head of lettuce, you already know that little bugs like to hang out there. And ‘though I hear those little bugs are rich in protein and low in fat, I’m guessing you don’t much care to ingest them.
And it’s not just the bugs – non-organic produce is sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides that you definitely don’t want to be consuming! So before we begin juicing, let’s make sure to get all that gross stuff off our veggies first, yes?
Here’s a quick guide to washing your vegetables, the squeaky-clean way:
To wash leafy greens: Think vinegar soak. Fill up a basin with cold water and pour a half cup of vinegar in it. Soak your leafy greens in the mixture for 5 to 10 minutes, swirling them around to loosen dirt and insects caught in the leaves. Then transfer your leafy greens to a colander and rinse under cold water, making sure the water hits every part of every leaf.
To wash cruciferous veggies: Cruci-fer-ous. What a cool word. Anyway, to wash these kinds of veggies – like broccoli and cauliflower – you’ll want to make sure you disinfect whatever is lurking inside those tiny, tight florets. To do that, just boil some hot, hot water and dip your cruciferous veggies in the water for around 10 seconds. That’s called blanching and it just serves to disinfect all the grossness in the florets before you get juicing. Next, run the florets under cold water for a few seconds to make sure they’re clear of bugs, dirt, etc.
To wash vegetables with peels: For produce with peels – like carrots and sweet potatoes – it’s not necessary to peel them if they’re organic and the peels are not too hard for your juicer. All you need to do is lightly scrub them with a vegetable brush. My favorite is Bürstenhaus Redecker’s vegetable brush – it’s impossible to pronounce but it has both hard and soft bristles which are perfect for pretty much all produce.
For organic produce, I use the soft side to very gently remove only the mud or dirt from every nook and cranny while leaving the nutritious peels intact.
If the veggies are non-organic, they should be peeled OR soaked for 10 minutes in vinegar and water and then vigorously scrubbed with the hard-bristled side of a vegetable brush.
Note: For maximum cleanliness from pesticides and harmful GMOs, it’s best to buy organic. Which brings us to the next tip…
Tips for Juicing Vegetables #2: Know which veggies to buy organic
We all know that organic veggies are better for your health. But they’re not so great for your wallet, are they? Most of us simply can’t afford to buy all organic produce so it’s important to know which fruits and veggies you must buy organic and which you can get away with buying non-organic.
The Environmental Working Group has a super handy list of fruits and veggies that are commonly contaminated with highly toxic insecticides that are considered toxic to the nervous system yet have still not been banned (aka fruits and veggies you’ll want to buy organic).
This list consists of 48 popular produce items that are ranked from worst (more pesticides!) to not-so-bad. Here’s a list of the top 15 offenders – you’ll want to spend the extra money to buy the following fruits and vegetables organic:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Cherry tomatoes
- Hot peppers
- Snap peas (imported)
You can check out the full list here. Also, it’s worth mentioning that both kale and collard greens – both juicing favorites – made #16 on the list so be sure to get those organic.
Tips for Juicing Vegetables #3. Keep it fresh
A super important rule in juicing is to juice fresh. Old vegetables not only taste bad, but they can be toxic as well. Celery that is turning brown and wilted can be toxic. Eggplant grows more and more bitter the longer you wait to juice it.
To avoid juicing wilted, moldy vegetables – work out an efficient grocery shopping system. Plan to pick up quick-wilting veggies every few days, as opposed to the vegetables that will last longer, like cucumber and celery, which you can shop for once a week.
If you can’t juice the produce right away or you like to buy in bulk and then juice little-by-little throughout the weak, check out how you can keep produce fresh! You’ll also want to invest in some fresh storage containers to make sure your veggies stay fresh and crisp until you have time to get to them. I use Progressive International’s Lettuce Keepers for all my veggies and it helps keep everything – even leafy greens – fresh and crisp for at least 2 weeks. They’re a godsend. Get some.
Tips for Juicing Vegetables #4: Drink your juice at its fresh-est
Be fresh also when you’ve made the juice. Fresh juice does not stay fresh forever. When fruits and vegetables are sliced and diced or crushed to produce juice, you’re essentially breaking open the cell walls of these nutrient-rich foods and exposing the various vitamins, enzymes, minerals, and phytonutrients found in the produce. And the antioxidants and other phytonutrients begin to break down almost immediately once they’re exposed to light and air, gradually losing most of their nutritional content.
How quickly fresh juice loses its nutritional value varies, but a lot of it is dependent on the type of juicer machine you’re using. Typically, juices made with centrifugal juicers oxidize the quickest so if you’re juicing with one of these, you’ll want to down that juice within 15 to 20 minutes of juicing it to get the most benefits.
For those juicing with slow masticating juicers, twin gear juicers, or press juicers, the story is a little different since these juicers don’t disturb the cellular structure of the produce being juiced and thus, do a better job of preserving enzymes and nutrients from oxidation.
‘Though juice is always best consumed as fresh as possible, you can actually store fresh juice made from slow masticating or twin gear juicers for up to 24 to 36 hours and juice made from twin gear juicers can last up to 72 hours. It’s not recommended to store juice made from centrifugal juicers.
Tips for Juicing Vegetables #5. Stay above ground
When you’re juicing vegetables, it’s a good idea to stay above ground. And I’m not just talking about you…I mean the vegetables you’re juicing.
Not all vegetables are low in sugar content. In fact, some veggies are just as sweet as fruit. A good rule of thumb is to avoid juicing too many veggies that grow below ground (like carrots and beetroots) as these are pretty darn high in sugar. Sure, that translates to more yumminess but not the best idea if you’re juicing for health. Want to know some low-sugar, high nutrient fruits to juice?