As I mixed one of the last jars of Concord grape juice from last year with seltzer water it occurred to me that there would not be any of this homemade soda if it weren’t for the steam juicer that I brought back from Germany. Therefore I simply must rave about this wondrous invention.
A steam juicer is a large pot where the base is filled with water and the top colander holds the fruits or vegetables. As the water boils and softens the fruit, the juice drips down from the colander into the juice kettle, from where it is released through a drain tube. The drain tube has a clamp so for the first hour or so, depending how hard and juicy the fruit is, you let the juice accumulate in the kettle, then open the clamp and let the juice run into a bowl placed underneath. I’ve had the steam juicer for several years yet I still relish the moment when I open the clamp – it feels a bit like digging for water or oil when a jet of the precious good eventually comes bursting out of the ground.
The yield is much bigger than with a jelly bag, it takes a fraction of the time, and it is no hassle at all to clean, just make sure you wash the steam juicer right after using; only the colander needs a bit of soaking sometimes. Except for grape juice, which I can as is with about ¼ cup sugar per quart of juice, I use most of the juice for making jelly.
The drawback: in the United States, steam juicers are expensive, especially the stainless steel models cost $100 and up. I do not recommend aluminum because it reacts with acid. A steam juicer is a small investment but for me it is an essential canning tool, just like a few good tools are essential in the garden. A rototiller for the garden? Never! A steam juicer for the kitchen? Absolutely. I cannot do without it.
Photos by Ted Rosen