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Thread: Steam juicer

  1. #1
    Sustainable Pioneer Sally's Avatar
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    Steam juicer

    Asked to start a thread about steam juicers, here it is.

    A steam juicer looks like this. There are two kinds: aluminum and stainless steel. Obviously, the stainless costs more. Worth every penny.

    A couple of years ago, we had harvested more than 100 pounds of grapes from our vine and I began the elaborate process of heating the grapes, mushing them, and then straining the resultant glop through cloth to get the juice, and then putting it in the frig overnight to precipitate out the crystals, straining it again, and canning it. Took forever. Like days. Awful.

    When I saw the steam juicer, I was smitten. It just looked like it would eliminate all that work. The price nearly killed me, and I had to really think about how stupid it seemed to buy something that cost that much money to process grape juice. Shortly after buying it, I went to the grocery store, and of course, they had grape juice on sale, so I felt like a total idiot.

    But then I found out how much more it will do.

    Steam juicers consist of three pans. The bottom one holds water. The middle one is like an angel food cake pan and the juice collects there. The steam from the bottom goes up through the middle tube to the colander-like top pan, which holds the food.

    In fact, some people have cobbled together steam juicers using a dutch oven for the bottom, an angel food cake pan in the middle (gotta figure out some way to raise it) and a colander on top. They work, but they're a bit of a pain because there is no way to remove the juice that collects without tearing the whole thing apart. The actual steam juicer has a plastic tube that comes out at the bottom of the juice collecting pan (the angel food cake pan) with a clamp on it.

    Here's an wonderful video showing the process for grapes from start to finish. If you aren't familiar with Tammy, her web site is mostly about dehydrating stuff and she's wonderful.

    But back to what you can use this thing for, beyond grape juice.

    Take apples. I used to make applesauce by (worst case) peeling and cutting up the apples, cooking them to mush, flavoring them and canning them. Took forever. Better situation is to cut up apples, peels, cores and all, cook them down to mush, run them through a food mill: What I have vs. What I'd rather have, but can't afford right now, and maybe never.

    Either way, whatever I put in the pot ends up applesauce and that's all.

    Enter the steam juicer. With it, I put the cut up apples, skins, cores, everything, in the hopper, and start it steaming. The apple juice collects, and when the whole thing is done, I run what's left, the pulp, through my food mill. If it's a bit thicker than I really want it to be, I add a little apple juice back into it, but it generally doesn't require much. Season it, if desired or needed, and can it. While I'm at it, I can the apple juice. It's a two-fer, folks.

    And if you like apple butter, there is nothing easier. Can up the apple juice, and then take the strained thick pulp, season it and cook it down just a little bit - not hours, but minutes, and can it.

    I have to admit that I wondered about this at first. I thought that the juice collected would be diluted somehow by the steam. It isn't. The grape juice is so strong that we dilute it when opening a jar. I also thought that removing all the apple juice from the apples would make blah-tasting applesauce. Nope. Can't tell the difference.

    So, it will do fruits and do them well. Juice is easy and quick, and can be canned as is, or made in to jelly.

    But it also does chicken.

    I admit being skeptical about this as well, but I read about people who did all the time, so I gave it a try and was converted almost instantly. All I do is put the chicken into the hopper (you don't even have to cut it up, although it is necessary to kill it, gut it and pluck it ), collect the broth, and let the cooked chicken cool.

    I then take the meat off the bones, and can it, using a bit of the collected broth in the jars. There is always more broth than is needed, so I can that up separately. All of it tastes wonderful.

    And tomatoes. Oh tomatoes. I would hate like hell to do tomatoes the old way. With the steam juicer, I put the cut up, but not peeled, tomatoes in the juicer, and collect what is affectionately called "tomato water" (it's a watery, reddish tinged fluid - not the tomato juice you're used to seeing in the store).

    After running the pulp through the food mill, I have tomato sauce. From there, I can do whatever I like with it. The "tomato water" I can separately, and label it just like that. It's like a tomato broth. I use for everything - soups, stews, water to cook rice in, whatever. Some people like to drink it, but I have enough tomato juice that we don't drink the "water" plain.

    The main thing is the time and energy saved, and the fact that I'm saving all that broth that would ordinarily be boiled away.

    I make not only tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc., but also barbecue sauce and ketchup. Making ketchup takes a bazillion tomatoes and you have to cook them down endlessly. Not with a steam juicer. There is still a cook down process but I'm starting with tomato sauce, not tomato juice. It probably cuts the time involved by 75%.

    The big thing to me was that this thing is completely non electric. You can use it over any kind of heat source. It saves a tremendous amount of time and more importantly, energy.

    Here's a super free recipe book (PDF) from one of the manufacturers.

    A note about brands: Doesn't really matter. They're all basically alike. The only differences are whether it is stainless or aluminum. People who buy aluminum to save money end up wishing they hadn't.

    One other thing: You absolutely must not let this thing boil dry. You cannot see the pan, so that's problematic, but easily solved. Put a couple of marbles (I have some stainless steel ball bearings) in the pan, and they will start rattling when it needs more water. Having to add water is rare, though, but sometimes I go do something else and forget it.

    Oh, and I do not work for any of the companies that make these things. Really. I should, but I don't.

  2. #2
    Sustainable Stowaway
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    Sally, you've sold me. You don't also sell Sham-WOWs do you? LOLOL!!!!

  3. #3
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    Oh, boy. Add to my list.... I used my Roma food mill this summer to try to make grape juice. It does a great job of separating the seed/skin from the juice. Then you have to strain the juice, etc. This sounds so much easier. We just put in 11 Zinfandel grapevines this year and they produced! Not much but I now have hope they will make it so I want to be able to capture all those good antioxidants! (Thought to self - must get Lehman's catalog out and look these up.)

    Draftlady

  4. #4
    Sustainable Pioneer Sally's Avatar
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    Hint, try Amazon. Cheaper. Works fine.

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    Sustainable Stowaway happydog's Avatar
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    Well, you just blew your cover. You're really Ron Popeil, right? "But wait there's more! It also does chicken!"

    Thanks for posting this. I just ordered one from amazon. You had me at apple butter.

    I REALLY like that it's not dependent on electricity too. Thanks a bunch for typing this all out.

  6. #6
    Sustainable Pioneer Sally's Avatar
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    Ah, enabling. Such a satisfying thing to do. :-)

    Oh, one other thing. These things come with a nasty, perfectly awful, no good, very terrible clampy thing on the hose. Remove the clamp and THROW IT AWAY. Then go out to the shop and get a nice, good sized plastic padded clamp meant for woodworking. Like this. Make sure the clamp you get is washable, and that the tip is wide enough to cover the whole tube mashed flat. (I turn mine at a slight angle and find it works well.) Mine is orange, very like the one in the picture. DH gave it to me when he watched me struggling with the crappy little thing that comes with the juicer.

    When juicing, put a dutch oven on the counter beside the stove (if possible) and put the hose in the dutch oven, with the clamp OFF. All the juice will drain into the dutch oven and be ready to heat up and can when you are finished.

    Do NOT get the hose in the flame. (Duh. But you cannot imagine how often people do that.) If by chance you destroy your hose, replacement hosing is available at hardware stores. I think I'll ask around about that and find out exactly what and where, and get a few lengths of it for storage. I know folks on the Yahoo canning list have destroyed theirs in the past. A nightmare would be living post crash with a juicer and no hose. I'd cry. Not for electric lights or chocolate, but for my juicer hose.

  7. #7
    Sustainable Stowaway Grower's Avatar
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    From what I can tell, the cheaper one has an aluminum-clad base, holds about 1 quart less than Lehman's. This makes it lighter, which some reviewers seemed to like. The Lehman's one is 18/10 stainless which would make it rugged as hell, but heavier. Seems like both are good, and certainly the price is better on the Amazon. Amazon also has other brands, as well. The Mehu-Liisa seems to be the exact Finland juicer that Lehman's sells, for the same price (that tells you that Amazon's "savings" are sometimes pretty bogus). The Krona is even bigger, but more expensive. People liked the glass lid.
    “The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living on a small piece of land...” - Abraham Lincoln

  8. #8
    Sustainable Pioneer Sally's Avatar
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    Yeah, sometimes the difference in $80 and $200 is whether or not you can afford the thing at all. Hence, the $80 one is a good deal in those circumstances. If you are canning for a family of 12, well, then the more expensive one is certainly the better option...

  9. #9
    Sustainable Pioneer badkitty's Avatar
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    Bumping an old thread, because these things truly rock. I'd never thought to try tomato sauce or chicken, but we routinely can our own apple, cherry, grape, peach, etc juice - there is no way at all that we would do this if not for the steam canner, but it is awesome when you've canned up as much applesauce as you want, but find yourself with 3 bushels of apples left to use (the joys of a bountiful year with a couple of apple trees) - just throw them in the juicer and go do other things for an hour. Also, we use it to get perfectly clear jellies, and it cuts a fair bit of babysitting time out of the jelly making equation, because you don't have to boil down the pulp and hang it in the jelly bags. I inherited mine from hubby's grandma, and I love it!

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    Sustainable Pioneer Lisa's Avatar
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    OK, I need a nudge. (I probably don't need a big nudge since I'm a total ho for kitchen gear, but indulge me, alright? )

    Thinking about buying a steam juicer. Uses for this thing include fruit, tomatoes, and chicken. What else are y'all doing with yours? I think the tomatoes alone would probably make it worth it. But having an overabundance of uses would probably make it easier to justify to hub. He thinks I have too much kitchen crap already. Silly man.
    Just another hippie in the hills.

  11. #11
    Administrator roger's Avatar
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    Don't tell him. Some secrets are good.

  12. #12
    Sustainable Pioneer Lisa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roger View Post
    Don't tell him. Some secrets are good.
    There you go makin' sense again
    Just another hippie in the hills.

  13. #13
    Administrator roger's Avatar
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    I'm buying one. I have a big thing for kitchen gadgets and what's one more? I'm certainly not telling my wife! Now it's just a matter of which one....

  14. #14
    Sustainable Regular Takes2long's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa View Post
    O (I probably don't need a big nudge since I'm a total ho for kitchen gear, but indulge me, alright? )

    AHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Nothing wrong with being a ho for kitchen gear. Nothing wrong with that at all!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. #15
    Sustainable Contributor Jag Farlane's Avatar
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    We'll be getting one shortly after moving, just too many uses for one. With the way she can drink down apple and grape juices, it would save us a boatload vice the store bought stuff, not to mention it'll be great for getting pure juice to make jelly with, apple butter, pumpkin butter...list just goes on and on.

  16. #16
    Sustainable Stowaway Emeline's Avatar
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    I really, really want to get me one of those!

    I've never used one of those or a pressure canner. I'm not sure you can even buy them in NZ - never seen them for sale anywhere. I shall have to save up and send to Amazon for both.

    Thanks so much Sally.

  17. #17
    Sustainable Regular margx's Avatar
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    Ok, now wez already a po family on a hard budget...Sally and Lisa, between the two of you, wez gettn' even po'ER! I want one of these as well!..ahh my kid doesn't need to go to school ,right?!

  18. #18
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    Probably not margx. The time and energy save by this thing is amazing. All of thos hours of babysitting sauce to get it thick enough and the stupid jelly bags of draining juice are over. It works especially well with my elderberries as they can't be pressed. This gets all that good juice.

  19. #19
    Sustainable Pioneer Lisa's Avatar
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    Y'all are terrible enablers. Which is exactly what I wanted, lol!

    OK, so I definitely want a stainless steel one. Given that, are there any other significant differences in the various models? I saw a stainless one for something like $80 on Amazon. I saw another stainless one for about double that. Is there something about the more expensive ones that makes them a whole lot better?
    Just another hippie in the hills.

  20. #20
    Sustainable Regular DonnerPartyofAte's Avatar
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    Wonder if it will make brandy out of old wine...?
    Life is antientropy

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