What I wish I’d known before I started juicing
Today, I’m sharing my top ten tips on how to start juicing. I started juicing in 2012 after watching a documentary that mentioned juicing to improve your health. Before that, I’d often had orange juice, but other than that, I was a complete novice and very naive when it came to how to actually go about juicing.
For some reason, I assumed that a) Any combination of vegetables would automatically taste good when juiced (boy, was I wrong) and that b) Juicing as much as I could in advance and then just having liters of juice ready in my fridge for the whole week was a great idea.
I was in grad school and on a low budget, so I bought a cheap centrifugal juicer second hand, headed to the supermarket and got tons of tomatoes and celery. I liked neither at the time, but remembered seeing tomato and celery juice on a tv show once, so I figured that was the way to go.
And thus started my juicing adventure. I juiced all the produce, yielding several liters of juice. Then I tasted it and… was horrified. It was awful (or so I thought). Luckily, I was able to save it by mixing it with apple juice, which made it *slightly* better, but looking back, I wish I had done a little more research before starting.
That’s why I decided to share my top 10 tips with you. Here’s what I wish I’d know before I got started. If you have similar stories to share, or have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment below. Also check out my Juicing FAQs.
My Top 10 Juicing Tips
1. Look into the difference between juicing and blending and decide which is best for you.
I love both juices and smoothies and they each have their own characteristics and benefits. Knowing these will help you decide whether to opt for one over the other, or incorporate both.
In a nutshell, juicing removes all fiber from fruits and vegetable, which means that even a small amount of juice will be very nutrient dense. In the form of a juice, you can easily consume a whole head of celery, a pineapple, a pound of spinach, and 4 cucumbers all at ounce. But eating that amount of produce in the same amount of time would be near impossible. This also means that juicing is a bit pricier than making smoothies.
Blending, on the other hand, pulverizes the produce instead of extracting the juice and removing the fiber. This results in a very different texture and flavor profile, meaning that something that tastes great as a juice will not necessarily taste as great in the form of a smoothie. Because of its fiber, smoothies will be more satiating.
Personally, I love both equally and incorporate them into my life in different ways. I opt for a juice when I want a quick boost of energy or something refreshing, as well as when I don’t feel well. When I try to include more protein or want more of a full meal replacement, I choose a smoothie.
Juicing can also be a great alternative for those who, for health reasons, can’t consume too much fiber. If that’s your case, please always consult your primary care physician to ensure you make the best and most informed decision for your individual situation. The same goes for anyone who has diabetes or any other health concerns.
2. Choose the right juicer.
Choosing a juicer can be quite confusing at first as so many different types (at different price points) exist. The two main types are centrifugal juicers and masticating, so-called “slow” juicers. The main difference is that slow juicers extract more juice and preserve more nutrients, making them a much better and smarter investment in the long run. I’ve tried many different juicers over the years and by far my favorite one is the Nama Well J2 juicer (you can get 10% off by using my affiliate code BOV10). They do offer payment plans, but if investing in a juicer is simply not an option right now, I would recommend using a blender and nut milk bag to extract the juice at first.
3. Discover what you can (and can’t) juice and find your perfect recipes, combos, and ratios.
What Can you juice?
Most fruits, vegetables, and herbs, as well as roots like ginger and turmeric. Here are some common examples:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Bell pepper
Herbs & More:
- Ginger root
- Turmeric root
What’s better not to juice/or only juice sparingly?
Technically, you can juice almost any fruit or vegetable. That said, some, like berries or peaches, yield very little juice compared to others, like apples and cucumbers. I therefore recommend prioritizing the ones that yield a lot of juice and then adding the others as bonus add-ons. Bananas are also not ideal for juicing and better kept for smoothies or banana ice cream.
Always keep in mind that you still want your juice to taste great. There are some vegetables, like cabbage, that taste great in stir-fry’s or soups, but when juiced, you’ll just want to make sure that you balance the taste out with something sweet like apples or pineapples.
4. Choose the right produce for your budget.
Since juicing uses a lot of produce, it can get expensive quickly, unless you plan ahead. Always check which produce is in season (cucumbers, for instance, are a lot cheaper during the summer), compare prices between stores, farmers markets and online stores, and stock up on whichever fruits and vegetables are most affordable. My personal favorite are carrots since they’re so inexpensive and yield a lot of juice. Then add the more expensive ingredients sparingly.
5. Don’t overdo it.
Juicing is an excellent way to consume a lot of valuable micronutrients at once. It’s also delicious, hydrating, and refreshing. That said, in the long run, balance is key. Instead of doing juice cleanse after juice cleanse, incorporating both juicing and nutritious plant-based meals is best.
6. Drink your juice right after juicing it (if possible)
As mentioned above, I used to think the most practical and smartest thing to do would be to juice several liters on Sunday and then have juice ready all week. And while that would indeed be very practical, it’s neither the safest, nor the most tasty thing to do.
Store-bought juices are usually pasteurized to avoid bacteria, which is not the case when you make your own juice. That means that the longer you wait to drink your juice, the higher the chance of potentially dangerous bacteria growing. If you can’t drink it right away, I would not wait more than 1-2 days before drinking your juice!
7. Store and transport your juice the right way.
Even though drinking your juice immediately is ideal, I understand that that’s not always possible. If you do need to make your juice in advance, I’d recommend storing it in an airtight container (see Tip #9 for which kind of container to use) in the fridge if keeping it for 1-2 days. Any longer than that, it would be better to freeze it in BPA free plastic bottles (it’s better not to freeze glass).
If you’re taking your juice to work with you, store it in a thermos to ensure it stays cool. I personally love Klean Kanteen’s products and use them every day, but any thermos will do! If you don’t have a thermos and don’t want to invest in one at the moment, many supermarkets sell cheap reusable freezer bags that will at least keep the juice cold much longer than if you were to keep it at room temperature.
8. Don’t wait too long to clean your juicer.
This is just a practical tip for my fellow procrastinators. The longer you wait, the more difficult it’ll be to clean the juicer and some of the leftover produce will have dried out making it a pain to clean. If you can’t thoroughly clean it right away, try and at least rinse it with water.
9. Use a glass straw and BPA free jars or bottles.
We’re constantly surrounded by toxins, so whenever we have the option to choose a safer alternative, it’s a good idea to do so. BPA is a toxin found in most plastics, but luckily, there are plenty of alternatives like glass or BPA-free plastics (they’re usually clearly labeled “BPA-free”). When I juice, I usually use glass mason jars and glass straws. There are also great stainless steel and bamboo straws, but I prefer the ones made of glass simply because they’re see-through, which makes it easier to see if they’re actually clean. Here are some jars and straws I recommend:
10. Find creative ways to use the pulp
You can either compost the pulp or reuse it in creative recipes, in which case I’d recommend juicing one type of ingredient after the other and storing the pulps separately (you can easily freeze them!). I like making carrot muffins using carrot juice pulp, for example. I’ll share some recipes here soon!