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The Store-Bought Green Juice Taste Test

The Store-Bought Green Juice Taste Test

Green juice — we have been hearing about it, buying it, or avoiding it altogether for quite some time now, Gwyneth Paltrow swears by it, The New York Times has reported on the green stuff several times, and countless health magazines have featured the green bottles on their covers. There is a $258 billion U.S. market for nonalcoholic drinks, and green juice’s sector accounts for $3.4 billion of the market (as of last year). But we just have to know: which is the best for you — and the best-tasting? Is there any benefit to homemade over store-bought? And what even is cold-pressing?

Click ahead for The Store-Bought Green Juice Taste Test Slideshow

Of course, green juices weren’t always such a hit at the juice bar or in stores; so why have these juices become popular, or seemingly trendy, all of a sudden? Experts say it’s thanks to the ever changing food culture of today. "Because we live in an increasingly toxic world, the need for detoxification has become well recognized," says Dr. Ruthie Harper, who has appeared on CBS’s The Doctors and Good Morning America. "Juicing is a quick and easy way for people to detoxify. Combine this with juicing’s ability to quickly help you lose a few pounds, and it has become a popular way to improve your health and lose weight."

But the question remains whether it’s better to buy juice at the store, or make it at home. A con of store-bought juices is, obviously, the freshness of the product. "If you choose to purchase prepackaged juice I always recommend that you look inside the bottle," explains Melissa Freedman, the creator of Cleanse Chick and certified health coach. "If you see that all of the color has dropped to the bottom, the juice is not as fresh as it can be… [You should] consider going to a local pressed juice location." Another factor to consider when buying juice at the store: additives. "Store-bought juices can often have additives, which help keep them fresh longer," says Justine Thorner, board-certified health coach and yoga instructor. "Never trust a juice if it has a shelf life of more than one week." Like many experts, Freedman believes juicing at home is the healthiest option. "I think it's better to make at home is because you know about the quality of the ingredients and the freshness of the juice."

Keep in mind there are different types, sizes, flavors, and methods to green juices. Cold-pressing means that the juice is extracted by crushing the fruit or vegetable, and then pressing it to get the highest yield of juice. This is all done in a cold setting, so that no nutrients in the fruit or vegetable are damaged and enzymes stay intact. Pasteurization means that the juice is heated to kill any bacteria, molds, and unwanted organisms. Many juices, not just green juices, are pasteurized because it extends the shelf life of a product. Another method is called high-pressure pascalization (HPP), which uses high-pressure chambers instead of heat to inhibit bacteria growth; HPP also naturally extends shelf life. Depending on what brand (and what price you are willing to pay), your juice is most likely processed by one of these methods.

Store-bought green juices may seem like a new concept, but in fact, some of them have been around longer than you think. Evolution Fresh launched in 1993 and started making the green juices from day one. Today, the company is owned by Starbucks but still distributes to many health food grocers in addition to Starbucks locations. Naked and Odwalla both began juicing nearly 30 years ago.

Since we’re still hoping to keep our bikini bods long after Labor Day, we decided to test several store-bought green juices — after all, not everyone has the time to chop, blend, purée, and make juice at home. Still, despite our own taste buds (and bravery, for those of us who were willing to down juices in all shades of green for the purpose of this investigation), it’s not to say that these 10 store-bought green juice brands are bad for you. "I believe that homemade juices are better than store-bought because they are fresher and you know exactly what is being put into them," Thorner says. "However, I would recommend drinking a juice from a store brand over not juicing at all."

Click ahead to find out which bottled green juice is right for your diet — and taste buds.


5 Tips To Choosing A Healthy Green Juice

To choose a healthy green juice, you need to make sure it has all the healthy ingredients in the right amount. Check out this article to learn more about it.

Green juice has become very popular these days because more and more people are becoming health conscious.

The trend of green juices first started with homemade, healthy ingredients. But now, it is being mass-produced and comes at affordable prices.

However, a failure of mass production is that often big companies fail to maintain the quality of their beverages. Since green juice is sold as a healthy choice, it should have healthy ingredients.

In this article, we will be talking about how to choose healthy green juices. But before that, let's check out whether authentic green juices actually live up to the hype.


Find Green Juice Ingredients that Don't Taste Like "Greens"

You can retrain your mind - and taste buds - to enjoy eating healthy.

You have the opportunity today to find a tasty mix that you like and start that green juice life you so want (because let’s face it, who doesn’t want an improved immune system, fewer dentists appointments - bye processed sugar - and to shed some fat?)

It’s 100% possible to hack a green juice to nottaste like ‘grass in a glass’ and improve your lifestyle.

Side effects may include a slimmer waistline, more energy, better skin, whiter teeth, and you know, naturally supported liver reset that helps you stick around longer.


Grapefruit Juice | Taste Test

'Tis the season to eat and drink plenty of citrus. Grapefruit is a good friend of ours: sour and tangy with an underlying sweetness. Though it's available year-round, it always feels especially virtuous to slurp up all those refreshingly acidic, Vitamin-C-packed juices during the chilly winter months.

And since sometimes you want the grapefruit experience without dealing with a fussy little knife to segment the whole dang fruit, we tried 12 different juices to find the best. (Note: this was not a walk in the park for our sour-zapped taste buds.)

The Contenders

We tasted 11 brands that are nationally available from leading grocery chains. We also threw in one of our own: a fresh-squeezed batch made at SEHQ to see how it compared to the store-bought options.

  • Whole Foods 2 varieties (wholefoodsmarket.com)
  • Trader Joe's 2 varieties (traderjoes.com)
  • Tropicana 2 varieties (tropicana.com)
  • Natalie's Orchid Island Juice Company (orchidislandjuice.com)
  • Simply Juice (simplyorangejuice)
  • Ocean Spray (oceanspray.com)
  • Florida's Natural (floridasnatural.com)
  • Apple and Eve (appleandeve.com)

The Criteria

In this blind tasting, we were looking for a tart, fresh-tasting juice balanced with some natural sweetness. Many of us are pulp fans and think it adds to the fresh-tasting experience, while others (and I've never really understood you people) don't care for the fruit-meat shreds. We included both pulp and non-pulp varieties.

Since we wanted to get a good cross-section of what's available out there in the markets, we included both pasteurized and non-pasteurized juices (though we could only find two that weren't pasteurized: one in the Whole Foods fridge, and Natalie's Orchid Island), and even a couple juice blends (which contained juices other than grapefruit).

Tasters tried the juices fresh from the fridge in different, randomized orders.

The Results

As we could have predicted, the non-pasteurized juices tasted fresh on our tongues. Pasteurization heats up the juice in order to kill microorganisms that could spoil it, hence extending the shelf life. Even the flash pasteurized juices (high temperature, short time) found near the produce section or in the refrigerated aisle didn't taste quite as crisp and robust as the raw juices.

We also didn't care for the juice blends, often a mix of grape, apple, and grapefruit juices. They taste like a big tease. When something is labeled "grapefruit," you're expecting a citrusy tang, not Kool-Aid. They have much more sugar (about 50% more), which also extends their shelf life but gives them that cloyingly syrupy sweet taste.

#1. Serious Eats Office-Squeezed (7.75 / 10)

SE Intern Aaron squeezed this himself the morning of our tasting. Nothing extra was added just whole grapefruits purchased across the street from our office. Tasters noted: "wow, tastes fresh!" (Ha, how accurate of them.)

This "real stuff" was gently tart and naturally sweet-tasting. Very balanced—no one single flavor dominates. It didn't have that artificial pink-lemonade-pink shade either. If you've got the whole grapefruits and the upper body strength, and you genuinely like the taste of grapefruits, the lesson here is SIY (squeeze it yourself).

#2. 365 Whole Foods, Not Pasteurized (7.25 / 10)

After all our grocery shopping, this was the only non-pasteurized, fresh-squeezed juice we could find out there. The "drink-by" date will come sooner than the pasteurized juices, so you won't have as much time to drink it, but if you're planning to gulp it back in the next couple of days, do yourself a favor and buy this. "Yum, even though I hate pulp," said one taster. There are plenty of citrus shreds floating throughout. Smooth, not too puckery, and about as fresh-tasting as the office-squeezed stuff.

#3. Trader Joe's 100% Florida Grapefruit (6.5 / 10)

"Pulpacious," said one taster. Again, you should expect pulpy. It's a little on the sweeter side we wish it was a tad more bitterness. Doesn't taste quite as robustly just-squeezed as the above two.

#4. Tropicana Pure Premium (6.25 / 10)

"Believably grapefruit," said one taster. It has a smooth bitterness. Pretty sour with a bit of honeyed sweetness in the background.

#5. Natalie's Orchid Island Juice Company (5.375 / 10)

We could only find the itty-bitty bottles (eight ounces, but don't they look smaller?) for this brand. You might recognize Natalie by her bronzed face and exotic-looking flower tucked into her hair? Wherever she is, we want to go there. This one's mild as far as grapefruit juice goes, but very refreshing. Compared to the others, it tastes more orange-like in sweetness without as much of a sour pucker.

#6. Simply (5.125 / 10)

When we polled y'all on Facebook, many of you endorsed Simply. The company was launched by Minute Maid in 2001, so it's under the Coca-Cola umbrella. You might recognize its long giraffe-necked bottle. Pulp haters, take note: this one's pulp-free! Quite bitter, a tad syrupy-sweet on the finish. Overall, pretty balanced.

#7. 365 Whole Foods, Pasteurized (5.0 / 10)

If you're at Whole Foods, you'll find this one in the fridge near our second place winner, but this pasteurized juice is notably not as fresh-tasting as the other. "Tastes like a canned juice." Bitter up front but without much grapefruity flavor.

#8. Ocean Spray (4.13 / 10)

This one is 100% juice but not 100% grapefruit juice. As the label will tell you, it's a blend of three juices: grapefruit juice from concentrate, white grape juice from concentrate, and carrot juice. "Tastes too.. mixed." It has that fakey, too sweet flavor—not citrusy enough, not grapefruity enough. Like what you'd get at a 24-hour diner. If you truly enjoy the pleasures of slurping up real grapefruit, and all its acidic glory, you'd be disappointed with this one.

#9. Florida's Natural (2.63 / 10)

Way too sweet, "like caramel water." There's a slight bitterness, but it's bitter like when a citrus candy wants to be bitter (e.g. lemon Life Savers). Also has a weird, perfume-y aftertaste.

#10. Trader Joe's Rio Red Grapefruit (2.5 / 10)

"I have no idea what this is," said one taster. Definitely not what we expect from something marked "grapefruit." Much more like grape juice (and the first ingredient listed is in fact white grape juice). Stick with Trader Joe's fresh-squeezed, unless you're looking for a fruit punch posing as grapefruit juice. And that pretty ruby color? "Vegetable juice for color" according to the ingredients.

#11. Tropicana (1.78 / 10)

"No, no no," said one taster. Tastes way more like apple than grapefruit juice. And it is actually part AJ. The ingredients read: water, grape juice concentrate, grapefruit juice concentrate, apple juice concentrate. Unlike the bottle of fresh-squeezed Tropicana, which scored fourth place, this one tasted very artificial. "Like I'm drinking pure sugar water." It's more Kool-Aidy than juice should be.

#12. Apple and Eve (1.75 / 10)

This one's labeled "Ruby Red Grapefruit" but it only contains 25% juice. It's a juice cocktail from concentrate. Imagine a kid's juice box—this tastes like that. Translation: SWEET and fruit-punchy. One taster went as far as calling it "vomit-flavored Hi-C." So maybe that was a little extreme and gross, but we really didn't like this one.


Why Make Your Own Juice?

You may be wondering why you should even bother to create your own juice. But honestly, if you plan on drinking juice, fresh is the way to go.

What’s so special about fresh, homemade juice?

Drinking fresh juice allows you to load up on load up a ton of healthy, delicious goodness. A healthy green juice recipe is seriously filled to the brim with awesome nutrients and phytochemicals like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

But there is a potential downside.

In order to make juice you need to remove the dry matter from the equation. This means that we’re saying goodbye to all of the wonderful fiber our fruits and veggies have to offer. While juice does allow us to load up on tons of micronutrients, removing the fiber means that you may experience a spike in your blood sugar… and potentially a crash in the near future.

But don’t you worry! You can easily prevent this.

By combining your fresh juice with a healthy, balanced meal (or enjoying one soon after). You pair that sucker with a plate full of healthy fiber, fats and proteins and you can have your high dose of micronutrients without the fear of a sugar rush. It’s all win! My favourite combo is a fresh green juice for breakfast with some yummy overnight oats.


How to make green juice

If you want a quick and easy way to consume nutrients from a range of vegetables and fruits, green juice might be the answer. Though it might look like pond slime, green juice packs a significant nutritional punch — and it can even taste good!

Sick of paying high prices for store-bought green juice? It's simple enough to make your own with the help of a juicer or blender. You might be wondering how to make green juice, so we'll go through some of its common ingredients and methods for producing it.


7 Easy & Tasty Ways to Take Wheatgrass Daily

If you’re new to Wheatgrass or haven’t tried our Wheatgrass before - it’s super easy to start and you will love how it makes you feel!

Or if you’re after some easy and yummy ways on incorporating our Wheatgrass into your diet - we trust you’ll find some recipes here that you’ll be enjoying over and over again!

According to our own experience and the feedback from the Burster community, the effects of our Wheatgrass can be felt much quicker than expected - in terms of curbing cravings and preventing overeating, feeling the gentle natural “buzz” and alertness to experiencing more visible weight loss results (within the next several weeks to longer term).

HOW CAN WHEATGRASS HELP YOU?

  • Reducing Cravings
  • Weight Loss
  • Detoxing
  • Promoting regularity
  • Clearing the skin
  • Supporting your immune system
  • Alkalising the body after too much coffee, alcohol and eating out.
  • High in Fibre
  • High in Chlorophyll

HOW DOES ORGANIC BURST WHEATGRASS TASTE?

Our wheatgrass tastes really lovely, like mild and slightly sweet green tea. So many of our Bursters continuously get surprised when they taste it as it’s not bitter in any way.

Had a bad experience with store-bought wheatgrass or juice shots?

Then you need to taste the authentic, pure and highest quality Wheatgrass, like ours.

Unlike most Wheatgrass powders that come from China (where certain areas have environmental concerns and mass production) our Wheatgrass is grown in the pristine New Zealand countryside. In this serene corner of the South Island there is no pollution, no industry…only the cleanest water, the purest air and green fields.

Our beautiful organic farm uses amazing cultivation techniques - such as enhancing the soil microbiology with beneficial bacteria. Between harvests our farmers grow powerful nutrient-dense herbs here that boost the nutrients in our wheatgrass.

As a result you receive a supreme quality wheatgrass, higher in chlorophyll and other nutrients.

Unlike the Wheatgrass juice that may be too overpowering and hard on the liver and the gut, our Wheatgrass does not have the same reported negative effect. We use up the whole of the young leaf and preserve all the precious fibres. This is why our Wheatgrass powder helps to keep you fuller for longer and adds vital fibre when you stir it into your juices.

IS IT GLUTEN-FREE?

Yes! Our Wheatgrass is the powdered young leaf of an organic wheat plant, picked before it develops into a grain (and thus before it gets a chance to develop gluten). Nonetheless if you’re allergic to wheat it’s best to go for another Burst, such as our Matcha or Spirulina (that also help with weight loss).

IS IT EXPENSIVE?

Not at all! A pouch of our Wheatgrass (with 30 servings = 1 month supply) is just £8.99 (around $11 USD).

…That comes to just 37p (46c) per day - almost 4 times cheaper than 1 cup of coffee in a high street coffee shop!

But can you really put a price on all the amazing benefits you get from the purest, highest quality, sustainably sourced New Zealand Wheatgrass? As well as supporting the planet with the amazing natural cultivation techniques our New Zealand farmers use to enrich the soil, promote clean air, restore the biodiversity and promote organic agriculture?

Here are 7 winning ways to take your Wheatgrass >>

1. IN A GLASS OF WATER

Simply mix 1 tsp of Organic Burst Wheatgrass in a glass of water (you can add a squeeze of lemon too). It’s always best to use still mineral water or filtered water, if you can.

As mentioned above, due to the purity and quality of our Wheatgrass the taste is mildly green and almost sweet - no bitterness or fishiness! See how it makes you feel!

Tip: Using the Aerolatte is a really speedy way to mix your Wheatgrass in liquids (and all Bursts!) - you can get yours on our website here, it’s totally our favourite kitchen gadget!

When to have? Enjoy this at any time of day, but here are some useful tips:

  • first thing in the morning to start up your engine :), cleanse, feel revitalised and help regularity (in which case follow with another glass of pure water).
  • 30 min - 1 hour before meals to help prevent overeating
  • between meals to curb snack attacks
  • whenever you need to feel uplifted

2. WHEATGRASS LATTE

This deliciously creamy and mega-quick 2 or 3-ingredient recipe is definitely the winner amongst our Bursters!

  • 1 cup milk (we love cashew, coconut or almond)
  • 1 tsp Organic Burst Wheatgrass powder
  • A few drops of pure stevia or a sweetener of your choice (optional)

Mix milk, stevia and Organic Burst Wheatgrass powder. You can use a spoon but we recommend whisking it with an Aerolatte, and enjoy!

Tip: if using a spoon to mix then try this: first pour a little bit of milk into your glass, then add 1 tsp Wheatgrass and use the spoon to make the paste, after which pour the rest of the milk and stir.

When to have: any time of the day (same as above), but especially as a coffee or soda replacement mid-morning or afternoon.

3. IN A SMOOTHIE

Our Wheatgrass goes so well in green smoothies, but feel free to experiment and share your creations with us on social media by tagging us and using #organicburst!

Here is an example smoothie that we love!

Wheatgrass Mint Choco Chip Smoothie

  • 1½ cups non-dairy milk (we love almond, coconut or cashew)
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tsp Organic Burst Wheatgrass powder
  • ½ avocado
  • 2 handfuls mint
  • 1 tbs cacao nibs
  • Coconut whipped cream (for serving - optional)
  1. Blend everything (except cacao nibs) in a blender.
  2. Add cacao nibs, and pulse a few times. Transfer smoothie into a glass.
  3. Serve with coconut whipped cream, and sprinkle more cacao nibs.

When to have:

  • an energising snack to help prevent you reaching for sugary treats
  • ideal for making the night before for a quick brekkie the next day
  • light early dinner

4. SUPERCHARGE YOUR GREEN JUICE

Our Wheatgrass goes so well with your favourite green juices! It’s rich in fiber that is a valuable addition to your juice (where the fibres have been removed from the fruit and veggies). Adding fiber to the juice helps slow down the sugars in the juice hitting your liver and digestive tract too quickly.

If you’re getting takeout green juice from a bar - simply mix 1 tsp of Wheatgrass into it.

Alternatively, make your own! Here is an example recipe:

  • 1 handful organic spinach⠀
  • 1 organic cucumber
  • a squeeze of lemon or lime
  • 1/2 organic apple, cored and chopped⠀
  • 1 tsp Organic Burst Wheatgrass
  • 1/4-1/2 cup mineral or filtered water (if need be)

Add spinach, cucumber and apple into your juicer, then stir the lemon juice, our Wheatgrass and water (if need be) into the juice.

When to have:

  • At least 1 hour after meals (as green juice is alkalising so you don’t want it to interfere with your digestion)
  • Between meals, especially in the afternoon to feel the amazing natural buzz.

Tip: go for fresh juices as opposed to bottled - because juice is best consumed within half an hour of juicing.

5. IN A SALAD DRESSING

Give your salad or grilled/sauteed veggies extra super-powers by mixing some of our mega-green Wheatgrass in the dressing.

The simplest way is to mix it with some olive oil, but here is one recipe we love:

Wheatgrass Lime Cilantro Dressing

  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro (coriander), stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 avocado (or 1/2 cup plain yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon Organic Burst Wheatgrass
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1/2 lime), more to taste
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  1. Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  2. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

6. IN A DELICIOUS HOME-MADE SUPERFOOD ICE CREAM

You can make your own creamy superfood ice-cream and enjoy the benefits of Wheatgrass! It goes so well with avocado, coconut cream and nut butters.

Here is a recipe that so many of our Bursters love:

When to have: anytime you feel like a treat!

7. ADDED TO YOUR PORRIDGE

Green porridge? How cool is that?! Start your day off right with this quick & delicious superfood brekkie.

Here is a recipe we love! It’s totally free from grains & sugars so won't irritate your digestive tract. The Healthy fats from the nuts and seeds, as well as the fiber in our Wheatgrass help you feel fuller for longer and enjoy the stable natural energy.

  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon Organic Burst Wheatgrass powder
  • 3 tablespoons almond meal (or almond flour)
  • 1 tablespoon Organic Burst Chia seeds
  • 3 tablespoons shredded (desiccated) coconut
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal (we use golden)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over low-medium heat while stirring. After a few minutes, the porridge will thicken.
  2. Pour the porridge out after you like the texture and serve with desired toppings.

Tip: you can even mix it up the night before and enjoy cold with fresh berries the next day for a quick & easy brekkie.

We hope you’re now inspired to try these easy ways to take your Wheatgrass daily! It’s so much fun!

But most importantly - you make the rules. As long as you have it daily you’ll benefit from its benefits and it’s totally up to you how you take it.

Want some more delicious Wheatgrass recipes? Check them out here >


Taste Test: Juice Boxes

With all the so-called “healthy” messages on juice boxes, it’s tough to decipher which is really the best choice for your little ones. We’ve tasted and anylized popular juices so you’ll be better informed on your next trip to the market.

Even if you’re giving your kids 100% juice, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following:

  • 1 to 6 years: Limit juice to 4 to 6 fluid ounces per day
  • 7 to 18 years: Limit juice to 8 to 12 ounces per day

Remember, fruit juice shouldn’t be used as a substitute for whole fruit. There are no nutritional benefits of drinking juice over whole fruit. It’s important to stick to the AAP guidelines as too much juice in your kiddos' diet can lead to obesity, poor nutrition and tooth decay.

When shopping for juice, not all boxes are created equal and not all markets are stocked with the same brands. You want to look for those that are made from 100% juice as opposed to mostly sugar + water. Size also matters—for kids 6 and under, opt for the smallest (4.23 fluid-ounce) box whenever possible.

For this taste test, we rated juice boxes based on taste, ingredients, portion size and nutritional information—specifically sugar and vitamin C. We chose apple juices and rated them on a 5-point scale (5 being the highest). Since these are marketed towards kids, our kids got in on the tasting action.

Nutrition Info (per 4.23 fluid ounces): 60 calories 12 grams sugar 100% vitamin C

Our Take: This is the only juice that lists 100% juice as the first ingredient (as opposed to water and juice concentrate). It also has the least amount of sugar while providing 100% vitamin C and 10% calcium too. The Sesame Street characters on the boxes are also a big hit with the little ones.

Nutrition Info (per 4.23 fluid ounces): 60 calories 14 grams sugar 100% vitamin C

Our Take: The first 2 ingredients are filtered water and concentrated apple juice, but it also contains 100% vitamin C. Unfortunately, we did discover that not all markets carry the smaller 4.23 fluid-ounce size.

Nutrition Info (per 4.23 fluid ounces): 60 calories 14 grams sugar 100% vitamin C

Our Take: The ingredient list includes ascorbic acid, which is vitamin C and accounts for the fact that it has 100% of the daily recommended amount for the vitamin. The 4.23 and 6.75 fluid ounce boxes are available—but opt for the smaller one whenever possible.

Nutrition Info (per 4.23 fluid ounces): 60 calories 14 grams sugar 20% vitamin C

Our Take: Water is the first ingredient listed as is ascorbic acid (AKA vitamin C)—although it only provides 20% of the daily recommendation. This juice box comes in 4.23 and 6.75 fluid ounce sizes.

Nutrition Info (per 6-fluid ounces): 80 calories 20 grams sugar 0% vitamin C

Our Take: We chose the 100% juice variety as opposed to Original Capri Sun made with high fructose corn syrup. The 6- fluid ounce portions meet the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for juice. Water and apple juice concentrate are the first 2 ingredients listed and it provides no vitamin C.


The New Abides

Today, I decided to be a mean, green, fighting machine! Well, I decided to not eat pizza, beer and ice cream all day so that’s a start.

We got back from our week long vacation yesterday and we didn’t have much to eat in the house. I hit the grocery store with my helper, Franky.

Grocery shopping with Franky is pretty painless because he loves the “car” carts that they have. You know the ones. They’re the size of a small sports car and only slightly easier to maneuver down an aisle than a monster truck?

I was loading up my cart with fruits and vegetables when I remembered the documentary I had watched earlier in the year called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. In it, an Australian businessman named Joe Cross, who is overweight with health issues, decides to go on a juice fast. Here’s the trailer:

I’m not telling you all to go on a juice fast. I surely am not, but I was curious to try one of his signature juices from the movie.

Ingredients:

Preparation:

1. Add ingredients to your juicer, one at a time.

2. Pour over ice and serve immediately.

I have a mid-range juicer so I had to cut the apples up a bit and shred some of the kale. I still used everything you see in the picture, apple cores, lemon peel and all.

I took my first sip and thought, “Ugh, celery!” There was too much. Then again, I tasted it fresh out of the juicer while it was lukewarm. I added lots of ice which was a huge improvement.

I then immediately jumped over the roof of my house with my newly found green juice super powers. Okay, maybe not, but there is something oddly satisfying knowing that you just drank all of that healthy goodness.

I’m going to make this juice again, but I’m going to cut it down to 2 stalks of celery. If I make it for Fran, I’ll omit the celery completely since he thinks celery is the enemy.

If you want a sweeter juice (albeit with more calories) eliminate the celery and add another 1/2 of an apple.

The kids got out of trying this one since Lilia is under the weather and Franky wasn’t here when I made it. Soon enough I’ll be tempting them with a nice, tall glass of green power.

If you would like to follow our family’s adventure to try one new thing, every day for an entire year, please find us on Facebook and Twitter.

To subscribe to The New Abides, type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.


How To Make Wine At Home From Bottled Juice

There are basically two methods of making your own wine at home–you can either buy the individual tools and ingredients you need, either online or from your local homebrewing store, or you can buy a simple kit that contains everything you need.

First let’s look at a kit by Spike Your Juice.

The kit comes with a fermentation lock and stopper that should fit almost any bottle of juice, six packets of yeast (with a bit of sugar added), and six labels for your newly-spiked juice bottles–you don’t want the kids confusing their grape juice with your grownup version!

The manufacturer recommends any 64 ounce (or so…) bottle of juice that doesn’t contain any preservatives. Just like making hard cider or grape soda, the preservatives in juice would kill off the yeast. Also, the juice needs to have at least 20 grams of sugar per serving–you have to give the yeast enough to eat to produce alcohol!

I started with a 48 ounce bottle (I figured that was close enough) of Welch’s Farmer’s Pick Grape Juice at room temperature the same juice I had made grape soda with previously.

The instructions say to just pour in the packet of yeast, but as you can see the yeast just kind of sits on the top, so I gave the bottle a bit of shake as well to mix things up.

Then you simply insert the stopper with the airlock, fill the airlock with water, and let the fermentation begin.

After anywhere from 8-48 hours, you should see tiny bubbles forming in the juice–it looks a bit like a bottle of soda after it’s been opened. The bubbles will escape through the fermentation lock (or airlock) the water allows the carbon dioxide that is being formed to escape, but does not allow the outside air in, which could let in unwanted strains of bacteria.

The manufacturer says that you can drink your spiked juice after only 48 hours. I really didn’t think that was near enough time to produce much alcohol, so I decided to track the progress using a hydrometer.

A hydrometer is a specialized tool that measures the ratio of the density of a liquid compared to the density of water–a number that is called specific gravity. If you know the specific gravity of your juice at both the beginning and end of the fermentation process, and plug those numbers into a simple formula, you can calculate the percentage of alcohol by volume.

To start, I took a measurement of the pure grape juice, before the yeast package was added. The specific gravity was 1.066.

Then, I measured the juice after 48 hours of fermenting, and got 1.062.

The formula for calculating alcohol by volume is: ABV% = (OG – FG) x 131.25, where OG is the Original Specific Gravity, and FG is the Final Specific Gravity. So, plugging in the numbers I measured, I came up with .525% alcohol by volume. Not a very high percentage at all, and a quick taste confirmed it–I had basically made grape soda at this point, with the yeast giving it a bit of a fizz.

This will give you an idea of what percent of alcohol by volume is in various drinks:

  • Kombucha–.5% or less
  • Beer– 4% to 7%
  • “Boone’s Farm” types of fizzy, fruit wines– 4% to 6%
  • White wines–about 10%
  • Red wines–about 12%

So I put the fermentation lock back on to give it more time. I noticed during the following day that I was getting way more bubbles than the first 48 hours you could tell that the fermentation process had really kicked in.

After another 48 hours (so 4 days total), I again measured the specific gravity, and this time got 1.02. Plugging that number into the formula gives an alcohol by volume of 6%. At this point it was less like grape juice and more like a slightly dry red wine–it kind of reminded me of the communion wine we’ve always had in church.

There was also a visible difference in the color of the juice–it had become a lighter shade, as you can see in the jar on the left.

One thing to remember about how fermentation works is that the yeast is eating the sugar and turning it into alcohol, so the higher the alcohol content goes, the less sweet (or more dry) the wine will be.

If you continued to let the juice ferment, it will eventually reach about 12%-14% alcohol by volume, although this may take many more days (or even weeks). You can slow (but not stop) the fermentation process by placing the juice into the refrigerator. You should NOT place the original cap back on the juice bottle unless you can do it very loosely–the fermentation process will still be going on, and could eventually cause the bottle to explode. Instead, just leave the fermentation lock on, or if you don’t have room for something that tall you can remove it and leave the stopper in. The stopper has a hole at the top that will allow the carbon dioxide to escape safely, but this also means your juice/wine will quickly lose any carbonation it still has.

Don’t forget to label your newly-spiked juice!

While the Spike Your Juice kit certainly makes the process easy, it’s definitely not economical–the kits itself costs about $20, and comes with the airlock, stopper, 6 yeast packets, and 6 labels. In comparison, you could purchase a pair of fermentation locks and stoppers for about $6, and a package of wine yeast for less than a dollar. One package of yeast should be enough to ferment as much as the 6 packets in the kit. At that price you can even buy a hydrometer and still have spent less than the Spike Your Juice kit.

To make wine using your own ingredients (rather than the kit), you would follow the same basic process, except you may want to proof your yeast at the start (make sure it is still alive and ready to eat all that sugar).

I’ve talked about proofing yeast before when making hard cider and soda, and the process is the same. Heat a small cup of juice up to about 100 degrees (not too hot or it will kill your yeast), add about 1/8 teaspoon of yeast and a pinch of sugar, stir, and wait. After 5-10 minutes the yeast should start to foam as it begins to consume the sugar then you know it’s ready to add to the juice bottle. Pour it back in, add the fermentation lock, and wait, just like you did (or would have) with the Spike Your Juice kit.

One big difference between this process and “traditional” wine making is that the traditional process has a primary and secondary fermentation, while here we are only doing what would normally be the secondary fermentation. In a primary fermentation you would leave the yeast/juice mixture open to air the yeast will multiple as many as 200 times if it has enough air to breathe. By putting the airlock on right away, you’re not allowing the yeast to multiply as much. This will result in a fermentation that would take much longer to reach a higher alcohol level, but if you’re using this method you’re probably more interested in a sweeter, more fruity wine anyway.

Of course you don’t have to use grape juice–you could use pomegranate or cranberry juice for more of a sangria flavor, or go wild and try something like mango.

I’m not totally against the Spike Your Juice kit–I think it fills a certain niche. It would make a fun gift for someone who has never tried any type of homebrewing, and it would be a fun thing to do for a party that’s coming up soon (since this is not really a wine you’d want to store long-term). I’d say it would be a fun project for the kids (they’re fascinated with the fermentation process and the bubbling) if it weren’t for the whole pesky alcohol aspect.

However, I think that once you’ve had a taste (no pun intended) of home wine making, you’ll want to move past budget kits and store-bought juice to better ingredients and tools.

So, whether you purchase a kit or the individual ingredients, I think you’ll have fun making (and of course drinking) your own fruity wine. If you find a particular favorite variety of juice, please let us know in the comments!