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67 Merchants Row
Rutland, VT, 05701
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Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL) promotes local food knowledge, production and market opportunities for farmers and community members throughout our region.

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Drink Healthy

Phil Gurley

by Janis McWayne

Juice ingredients. Photo by Janis McWayne

Juice ingredients. Photo by Janis McWayne

Fresh juice from a home juicer is delicious and good for health. It has plenty of nutrients that provide instant energy, promote good health, and aid in the prevention of diseases. Juice provides water, amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and soluble fiber. These qualities all strengthen the immune system.

Juice promotes optimal absorption of vitamins and minerals because juicing releases nutrients in a highly absorbable and digestible form. The latest nutritional guidelines report that Americans need between nine and thirteen servings of fruit and vegetables per day when striving for optimum health. Dark green leafy and red and yellow vegetables are best. Juicing makes nine to thirteen servings easy to consume.

Last summer I planted a few garden boxes and had greens and kale until late fall. This coming spring I will plant a garden specifically for juice and one specifically for root vegetables, which I have discovered, keep quite well in the cellar of my house.

I have enjoyed juice this winter from local seasonal vegetables and have been able to also have greens for juice from my winter CSA subscription and the farmers market. I particularly like to use carrots and/or beets for the base and add other ingredients when they are seasonally available locally.

Half a cup of raw vegetables or one cup of raw leafy greens is equivalent to one serving. One pound of carrots makes approximately one cup of juice. So if one aims for the minimum of nine servings from juice use two cups of raw greens and four cups raw vegetables and fruit per person. Most people do not consume all of their vegetable servings daily from juice, and juice is certainly beneficial even it is one or two servings.

I harvest the vegetables and then clean and prep them for the juicer. I have recently begun to use a masticating juicer for root vegetables, and I sometimes use a centrifugal juicer when I have softer produce to juice

Juicing does not have to be time consuming, however. One can easily make several glasses of juice and clean up in 30 minutes or less. There are a few strategies to reduce the morning prep time.

I do not usually peel organic produce, but sometimes in the winter I do. It depends on how well it has stored. I always peel produce that is not organic, as an example, cucumbers. It is more difficult to find local, organic cucumbers after the summer.

I often make enough juice to last three or four days and store in several small airtight containers. I am experimenting with seasonal, local produce for juicing. I do buy some citrus from other states for beet juice, and sometimes I add apples, oranges, or ginger for a little variety, and they are not local products that I purchase. I am thinking of trying to grow ginger, and going to make more of an effort to drink juice without citrus, and to use all local ingredients.

I do not use recipes. I record what I make, but some carrots and apples are sweeter than others, some beets are sweet and some are less so. Generally, I juice and taste until I get the flavor that I am craving. Here are some winter juice combinations that I enjoy:

Carrot: Just carrots, and this is my favorite. Carrots are even sweeter in the winter.

Carrot Ginger: One pound of carrots makes one cup of juice. I just use a bit of ginger to taste, but 8 ounces of ginger yields approximately ¾ cup of ginger juice.

Beet and Apple: One pound of beets makes approximately 1 cup of juice. Apples to taste, the yield for apples depends on the variety of apple. In the winter I buy apples from Vermont and New York, and Empire and Cortland juice nicely in the cold months.

Beet, Carrot, Apple and Grapefruit: I use mostly beet, and add 2 or 3 carrots and apples to sweeten, I use one large grapefruit per quart. One large grapefruit equals about 1 cup of juice.

Kale, Spinach, Carrots, Apple, Ginger and Fresh Lemon Juice: 1 bunch of kale, 3 cups of spinach, 6 carrots, 3 apples, a bit of ginger (taste until you can taste the ginger), 1 fresh lemon.

Janis McWayne is a RAFFL Volunteer. She is a researcher and educator. She is learning to live healthfully in Vermont and to grow her own food.

Originally published in the Rutland Herald.