I love making juice. I love drinking juice. I love making vibrant colors and sweet and spicy flavors and I especially love how I feel when I drink a really good juice.
Whenever I come up with a really great juice I Instagram it along with a list of all the ingredients I used (I’ve collected them all on a Pinterest board for you, too). A lot of people ask me where I get the recipes and I have to reply, “I make them up” like a total asshole, but it’s true. I know what I like in a juice, and most of the time I can just kind of wing it.
So, I thought it might be helpful to juice newbies to give some pointers on concocting a great juice. Not a juice newbie? Leave your favorite combinations in the comments for all of us to try! Follow me on Instagram for more of my juice madness.
Choosing a Juicer
Definitely the most daunting part about juicing, because they aren’t cheap. But, if you’re buying bottled juice at the store, or even more spendy, at fancy juice places, you’re already dropping $5-12 a bottle. Yeah, I said $12. We have juice boutiques in Chicago that offer $16 bottles of juices. So when you do the math, you can actually save quite a bit of money by making juice at home.
Here are some words you need to know when shopping for a juicer:
- masticating – shreds food, works well with fruits and veggies, not so great with leafy greens, juice should be consumed immediately after extraction, generally inexpensive
- centrifugal – smashes food, works well with fruits, veggies and greens, works slower and with less heat than masticating, so the juice can be consumed days after extraction, generally pricier than masticating
- slow juicer – similar to centrifugal, but nutrients in juice last even longer, very pricy right now
I have an Omega 8004 ($220). This is a centrifugal juicer, which means I can make juice before I go to bed and the nutrients will be intact the next day when I drink it. Compared to other juicers I’ve owned, it can handle pretty much any produce I throw at it, and it’s very easy to clean as everything pulls apart and is dishwasher safe. You’ll find this juicer at the top of most juicing blogs’ recommended lists – which is why I bought it. They’re all right, it’s a great juicer.
Do you own a juice you love? Tell me what you’ve got in the comments section.
Organic or Nah?
You probably already guessed that I’m going to recommend buying organic whenever you can. I know it costs more than conventional, but when you juice you’re generally consuming the peel and that’s where most of the pesticides stay in produce. But if you can’t do 100% organic, just make sure you buy these organic and then you can get away with well-washed conventional produce.
The “Dirty Dozen” plus ( produce you should always buy organic): apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, snap peas, potatoes, kale, collard greens & other greens.
How do you wash your produce? I use Veggie Wash Natural Fruit & Vegetable Wash to remove wax, soil, fertilizers and pesticides – it’s mostly made with citrus, and you can definitely make your own, too.
Not Just OJ
A lot of first-time juicers go for 100% fruit juices because it’s what they know – and that’s OK, but if you only juice fruit you’re missing out on some truly healthy and delicious options. Here’s my most basic rule for juicing: juice things that you would want to eat together. If you would not eat a tomato with an orange, you probably won’t want to drink them together, either. But have you ever tried strawberries with fresh basil? So delicious! Definitely juice those together!
You know what you like better than I do – do you prefer sweets? Savories? Like herbs? Into spice? What about sweet and spice? Savory and herbaceous? Coming up with a juice recipe is just like fine-tuning your favorite recipe without, you know, cooking stuff.
Here are some general flavor profiles you can get from common produce:
Sweet: mangoes, apples, grapes, melons, pears, grapes, pineapples, oranges, kiwis, berries
Savory/earthy: kale, beets (and greens), lettuce, chard, arugula, mustard greens, broccoli
Herby: mint, basil, parsley, cilantro, sage
Spicy: ginger, peppers
Certain produce makes a LOT of juice. Apples, tomatoes, cucumbers and celery are among the juiciest, so you may wish to only use half, depending on what you like. We’ll talk more about “juice bullies” in a bit – ingredients that will take your shit over if you let them.
Pick a “Medicine”
People juice for lots of reasons – and if your reason is just because you like drinking juice more power to you! I like the way juice tastes, but I also like the way the right combination of juice makes me feel. For that reason, I always include some “medicine” in my juice – exceptionally beneficial ingredients that so more than just contribute to the taste and color. Here are some of my favorites:
ginger: Ginger is a love/hate ingredient. I’m obsessed with it, Tony thinks it taste like soap. But ginger is amazing because it supports healthy digestion, boosts immunity, calms a “yucky” stomach and just a tiny piece of it in your juice warms your whole body.
turmeric: This little root is mega anti-inflammatory. If you have sore muscles or aching joints add a little of this to your juice and you’ll feel great. be warned that it’s also a natural food colorant – it will turn EVERYTHING it touches bright yellow so try not to let it stain your clothes or your counter top.
wheatgrass: You can mask the grassy flavor of wheatgrass with a good dose of citrus in your juice – I think this is a flavor best consumed very fresh as it tends to go bitter quickly. It’s worth it for the vitamins C and E, and beta carotene plus other antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, though.
pineapple core: Pineapple is a sweet and delicious addition to any juice, but don’t throw away the core! That’s where you’ll find a healthy dose of bromelain, which reduces inflammation and is believed to reduce the growth rate of cancerous tumors.
cherry: Tart cherries are another anti-inflammatory ingredient that add color and flavor to your juice.
lemon and lime: I love lemon and lime for adding zip to any juice – they brighten up a green juice and take the sugary sweetness out of an apple-based juice, but they also deliver an immunity-boosting dose of Vitamin C, calm upset stomachs and support a healthy metabolism.
What’s your favorite beneficial juice boost? Tell me in the comments!
There are certain ingredients that will absolutely TAKE OVER your juice due to their high juice yield (as I mentioned earlier, cucumbers, celery, etc) or due to their very strong flavor. So, unless you are absolutely in love with the flavor of say, cilantro or ginger, use these ingredients sparingly and make sure you taste as you juice to keep your flavors balanced:
- bell peppers
- dark leafy greens
What ingredients do you think overpower a juice, or need to be carefully balanced? How do you balance them? Tell me in the comments!
You eat first with your eyes, so why not use the cutest accessories to make your juices look as good as possible? Here are some of my favorites:
Bettie Page pint glasses – I received a set of these for my birthday and let me tell you, there’s nothing better to gaze upon while you sip than good ‘ol Bettie!
May I Be Frank Tiki Mug by Sourpuss Clothing – Sometimes I make straight up ugly juices. Beets, lemons and greens? Delicious, but brown. It is really difficult to drink a brown juice unless you disguise it in a cute cup like this and use a straw.
Straws! – Paper straws are cute for photos, but I actually think they’re disgusting to use. Like drinking juice through a napkin. So I prefer glass straws and metal straws. Use a pipe cleaner to clean them, or run them through your dishwasher. Oh, and another hint? Push a straw through the “good” end of a strawberry to remove the core and the greens in one simple step! I like metal straws for that task.
Cleaners – In addition to the produce wash I mentioned earlier, I like to use Skrub gloves to give fruits and veggies a good cleaning before I juice them.
Pineapple corer – My grandma bought me this and it is the best! Not only does it peel, slice and core a whole pineapple in seconds, but it leaves you with a perfectly hollow pineapple perfect for filling with fresh juice and a paper umbrella! Teno loves drinking his juice from a whole pineapple – who wouldn’t?
Berry Breeze – This one’s not for show. If you make a ton of juice or smoothies, your fridge is going to be full of produce. Berry Breeze legitimately helps to extend the life of your fresh produce without chemicals or anything weird. I’ve been using mine for over a month and I recommend it to everyone. Here’s my whole testimonial on Instagram.
Choose a base:
- 1-2 green apples + 1/2 lemon or 1 lime
- 1 large carrot + 1-2 green apples
- 1 small cucumber or 2 ribs of celery
Add 1-3 “main ingredients”:
- 3-4 kale leaves
- a handful of baby spinach
- one yellow or orange bell pepper
- 2 ribs of celery
- 3-4 leaves of collard greens
- 1 small fennel bulb
- 1/2 a small pumpkin
- 1 grapefruit
- 1 large carrot
- 1 small beet
- 1 small sweet potato
- your favorite fruit
- your favorite veggie
Add “medicine” or optional ingredients sparingly:
- a 1/2″ piece of ginger
- fresh sage
- a few leaves of mint
- a piece or turmeric
- hot pepper
What? Yes, if you like savory juice this one is for you. My friend Amy texted me with this one the other night. Basically, you make your favorite green juice, this is her basic green:
- bok choy
- kale or collard greens
Then you add:
- orange & green bell pepper
Taste it as you go, but done properly, it supposedly tastes just like pizza. Amy also notes that people who don’t like savory juices could still make this one, and very gently heat it for a savory broth.
I want to know what you’re juicing! Tell me your favorite combinations in the comments!
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation. However, I only recommend products I have tested myself and approved of.