20 Jul 2015

Making strawberry juice

Doesn't every lolita make her own juice of deliciousness? Oh yes! Last year I made my very first effort for making my own strawberry juice (which turned out great) and, after learning a few knicks and knacks in the process, I will be making plenty more this year too! I'm even planning on trying out oranges and redcurrants for another type of juices this year, we'll see how it goes. I'll be making a bit of jam too, but those are freshly preserved, so no boiling or hassling. Only this year I'm making so much, that I have to do it in smaller quantities at a time.

Here's a walk through for the making of strawberry juice with a steamer kettle (aka mehumaija in finnish). I've found that I don't need to buy my own steaming kettle, since people are more than happy to lend their kettles (borrowed the kettle from my mother-in-law), since there's so little use for them troughout the year.

Last year I had 6 kilos of strawberries, 2 kilos sugar and 1 lemon, but it turned out a bit too sweet for our tastes even though it was really good none the less. So this year I had 3 kilos of strawberries (since I'll be making other types of juices as well) and half a kilo of sugar (which is half from the amount last year) and one lemon (which is twice as much as last year). Though, the next patch will have a bit more sugar again, it always depends on the sweetness of the strawberries too, so be sure to take a tastie before finishing up!

Last year it came out as 6 liters of concentrated juice, when I used 6 kilos of strawberries. I was also left with about 2 liters of heavy, weird and gooey jam, which I tried out of curiosity, but found to be perfectly disgusting, since all the flavor had been drawn out into the juice. So don't bother preserving the jam, it is not a byproduct, it is just plain waste of making juice.

Once ready, the juice can be mixed with water in a ratio of 1:5 up to 1:8, depending on your personal preferences, so you'll have plenty of that deliciousness to last through the winter, when you put it to the freezer. I froze everything I had and we actually ran out of it during the winter! After taken out of the freezer, the juice keeps in fridge for at least 2-3 weeks (don't really know the longest time it actually keeps, because it's so yummy that we just kept consuming it too fast!).

How to make the juice:

First you need to make sure the strawberries are clean (you don't want any mud in your juice) and take out all the green or soggy bits too. Make sure you don't have anything spoiled going into your kettle. It's okay if a strawberry is just soft and still looks good and red, but if it has gone bad with both looks and smells, you don't want to eat it. Slice the smaller strawberries into half at least, if you have large ones, slice in at least 4 pieces. You'll also need some water for the steaming in the very bottom most part of the kettle, just make sure the steaming water doesn't run out and check on it regularly. Then, put the bottom part of the kettle onto the stove and bring some water to boil. Turn down the heat a bit and put the second part on the kettle with the hose attached.

You'll need to put a clip on the hose so your juice won't end up all over the kitchen floor :3

Put the last part on the kettle.

Last year I had a total of 6 kilos of strawberries, so I had to make the juice in two sets, so the kettle wouldn't be overloaded. I first poured in 1,5 kilos of sliced strawberries, then 1 kilo of sugar and then 1,5 kilos of strawberries again. This year I put all my 3 kilos of strawberries in at once and mixed in half a kilo of sugar and the juice of 1 lemon. Then just close the lid and wait for 20 minutes without touching it for the steam to work.

After the first 20 minutes loosen the clip and let the juice run from the hose into a smaller kettle. You don't need to wait for all of the juice to run into the smaller kettle, just whatever there is, since we're going to put it back.

Stir the strawberries and mix them well with the sugar. Pour the juice back onto the strawberries and close the lid. Wait for another 20 minutes and repeat this.

Last year I let the strawberries steam for 1 hour and then cooled down the juice, but this year I steamed them for 1 hour and 20 minutes, since the colour of the berries was still quite red after 1 hour. You'll know when it's ready by the colour of the steamed strawberries, they will look pale pink and squashed (and pretty much disgusting) when all that juice has been steamed out.

Run the juice into smaller kettles and let it cool. I put the kettles into cold water baths on my bathroom floor and regularly changed the water for colder since it was a really hot day and the water bath warmed fast. It was 30°C outside last year and 25°C this year, so I had no other choice, but to use the water bath, but you can put your juice for example on you veranda over night to cool, just make sure nothing can fall in while it cools. Whatever you choose, you should know that water is a much more efficient cooler than air, so it'll be a lot faster to just look after water baths than waiting for the juice to cool out by itself. Just be careful not to spill any water on your juice (or anything else either).

Last year I put on another kettle full of strawberries after the first one was done, since I had 6 kilos of strawberries (but this year I had just 3 kilos, so I was done with the first kettle). Just remember to make sure there's enough water left on the bottom kettle for steaming if you are steaming more.

I made extra sure the juice would keep longer in my fridge, so after I had cooled it completely, I reheated it in a kettle. Last year I sliced a lemon at this point and poured half of its juice into the strawberry juice (half for 3 liters) and boiled gently for 10 minutes. This year I had already steamed the lemon juice with the strawberries (one lemon for 3 liters), so I just had to boil the juice I had made. Remember to stir and make sure it won't burn. After boiling for 10 minutes, just cool it down again. This really helps the juice keep longer when you take it out of the freezer, but if you know you'll consume it fast, say within 5 days, you don't need to do this bit. The lemon adds a nice spark to the taste and also helps the juice keep better, but again, it's a matter of preferences. I also would recommend on washing the whole steaming kettle right after you get the juice out of it, since it will be quite tricky getting it squeaky clean if the juice sticks to it. Trust me, I know...

Last year I was optimistic and also tried out the leftover steamed strawberries to see if I could make something out of them (but trust me, I promise you, you cannot make them taste good anymore, so don't bother with them.) I ended up tossing them, but at least you can see in the picture above the colour of how they should end up looking after steaming long enough. 

After I had cooled down the juice again, I put it into small containers so I could put them into the freezer. This year I sieved the juice out of any strawberry bits, since that tends to unfrizzle my strawberry soda, but that is entirely up to personal preferences.

So last year I ended up with 6 liters of concentrated juice and 2 liters of heavy pink goo (which was the leftover waste). This year I steamed the berries a bit longer, put in half the amount of sugar and got a bit less than 3 liters concentrated juice (well obviously less, since there wasn't that much of sugar). I really like it better now with less sugar, but I'm going to add just a bit more to the next patch.

It took me the whole day from fetching the strawberries from the market place to steaming, cooling, boiling and finally putting the cooled juice into small containers ready for the freezer (and freezing them the next day), but it was all worth it! This year I was done a lot faster, like a pro (^^)

*pat pat* I did a good job! ( -`ω´- )(ω´ )

Yum, such deliciousness! Nothing you can buy from the shelves of a regular grocery store can beat this, or actually, doesn't even come close to this. Seriously, it tastes like summer all winter too It's great cooled or heated, just pure perfection (><)  

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