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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Juice Steamers

Did your grandma have one of these? Mine did! This is a handy item known as a juice steamer. It is used to extract juice from fruit and vegetables. Steamers can be expensive when purchased new, but you often see them at garage sales, estate sales, and on various online sites at a reasonable price. I've also seen them for sale at various hardware stores around Billings.

For years, my neighbor had an apple tree growing next to our mutual fence that dropped apples all over my lawn. It was aggravating--they had to be picked up before we mowed, and they were not great tasting apples.

Then I got a juice steamer, and turned those apples into delicious, fresh apple juice. Wouldn't you know it, the very next summer my neighbor cut down his apple tree.

. The steamer consists of three pots: the bottom pot for boiling water (right), the middle pot where the extracted juice collects (center), and the strainer/top pot where the fruit is placed (left).

Today I'm making rhubarb watermelon juice. I have a large rhubarb growing in my garden,

and a small watermelon leftover from a reunion.

I cubed the unpeeled rhubarb, cut off the rind and chunked the watermelon, and put them in the strainer. You generally don't need to peel or seed your fruit. Watermelon rind is one of the few things that leaves a distinctive flavor I don't care for. You can also add sugar or spices at this point if needed. Add water to the bottom pot and bring to a boil. Put the middle pot on top of the boiling water and the strainer with fruit on top of the middle pot. Do not let the water boil dry. Steam fruit until it appears dry. As the fruit steams, it drips into the middle pot as pure juice.

Now you have juice which you can drink after chilling, or make into syrup, or jelly or jam, or use as flavoring in other desserts. The booklet that came with my steamer has lots of recipes and ideas. Now that I don't have apples falling in my yard, I use my steamer mainly for the grapes and plums from my garden. You can also steam peaches, cherries, berries, tomatoes,--just about any fruit or vegetable you want.

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