A steam juice extractor is a great adjunct to the kitchen for those who enjoy making preserves.
Recently a friend gave me a steam juicer, and I’m finding it a great addition to the kitchen.
For many years now, I’ve juiced fruits using a centrifugal juicer – like a mini food-processor, with a toothed wheel that grinds the fruit down to mush. This retains the skins etc in the basket and produces thick, gorgeous juice through the spout, but all fruit has to peeled and de-seeded beforehand and the pulp can build up very quickly. It’s also a fiddle to clean and the juice doesn’t keep – it has to be drunk straight away.
This kind of juicer is invaluable, as is a good citrus press, especially if you like to have fresh, raw juice for breakfast, and the steam juicer doesn’t replace it – it’s a different beast entirely, and produces a different kind of product, more akin to the bottled juices you get in the supermarket.
Basically, it works like a giant steamer. You put water in the bottom section, fruit or veg in the top section, and the juice collects in the middle section, which has a tap. You do need, I should point out, a considerable quantity of fruit.
The steam literally forces the juice out of the fruit (if you watch, you can see it bursting through the skin), and you don’t have to peel the fruits, nor take the pips out – all they need is a good wash and the removal of any bruised or mouldy bits. You get a distinctly ‘whole fruit’ taste.
The juice, in complete contrast to that made with a centrifugal juicer, is thin, pure and clear with no pulp in it, and is already pasturised, allowing you to bottle it straight away and keep it for up to three months (provided the bottles are sterilised and heat-processed).
What I am most pleased about is that it FINALLY enables me to make use of my rock-hard calvados pears, which are small, hard and gritty – totally unsuitable for culinary use. Over the years I’ve tried everything with them, without success. But with this juicer, the juice produced has no grit in it, and although it needs the addition of honey or sugar, is a pleasure to drink. It’s also brilliant for plums – no need to de-skin or take the stones out.
The juice produced is perfect for making clear, bright jellies, using either gelatine or pectin as a set. Incidentally, the product was invented in Finland, where they are more common than toasters, and I wonder if it is because much of the Finns’ native fruit comes in the form of berries. Raspberries, blackberries and other ‘seedy’ fruit are totally hassle-free to process – no more draining through jelly bags and leaving things to drip, etc – and I really wish I had had this product a month ago, during the currant glut.
You can, of course, use the fruit pulp left in the top section if you so wish, but in that case, you’ll need to peel and de-seed the fruit. I processed our Calville Blanc apples, which weren’t keeping well, and then flavoured the resulting pulp with cinnamon and cloves and used it in a crumble. The juice was clear and very flavoursome, and made a great drink mixed with fizzy water.
My steam juicer is made by Japy-Fruit, which is no longer in business and the main drawback to it is that it’s aluminium. If I find that I’m using it as much as I imagine, I may consider replacing it with a steel one, which is available on Amazon.fr. There are other makes, too – just Google to see what’s available in your area – in the UK, steam juicers are available from specialist cookshops.
The steam juicer can, of course, be used as a conventional (if very large) steamer by removing the middle section.
How to use your steam extraction juicer.
Wash your fruit (peel and de-seed if you’re keeping the pulp) and cut into quarters for large fruit such as apples (small fruit such as plums can be left whole).
Put the fruit in the top section.
Fill the steamer section with water (make sure it’s good and full) so it won’t boil dry.
Make sure the tap on the juice section is closed!
Bring the water to the boil and then reduce the heat, but still ensuring it’s hot enough to steam.
For apples and other hardish fruit, steam for 60-90 minutes. Soft fruits are ready in 40-60 minutes. For very tart fruits, you can sprinkle sugar on the fruit while it’s in the steamer, rather than adding it afterwards.
To obtain more juice, drain off a pint or two of juice and put it back on top of the fruit – this ‘encourages’ the fruit to expel more juice.
At the end of the cooking time, drain off the juice into glass or steel containers, or leave to go cold and bottle up in plastic.
If you sterilise the bottles beforehand and heat-process them afterwards, the juice should keep for three months – for this, you’ll need heatproof bottles with clip-tops sealed with a rubber ring.
The new steel version of the Japy-Fruit juicer is available at Amazon.fr.
The Mehu-Liisa (Finnish) juicer is available at Amazon.com.
Sadly, no steam juicer appears to be available at Amazon.co.uk but the WMF (German) extractor is available here.