Learning To Juice Takes Time (Day 259)

I made me some pretty juice today.


A magenta, immune-boosting elixir.

Here’s the recipe:

Wash and juice the following fruits/vegetables, then drink.

4 medium carrots

1 medium beet

1 large navel orange, peeled

1 red pepper, stem and seeds removed

2 stalks celery

3/4-1 inch piece ginger, peeled

The good news: the juice was drinkable. Some of the concoctions I’ve made over the past couple of years, while experimenting with homemade juicing, have tasted disgusting. All those vegetables and fruits cut up and processed that were thrown away. Because once they were juiced and combined, they tasted so bad that I could not tolerate more than a sip of them.

The not-so-good news: the juice wasn’t as tasty as the beautiful color implied. Magenta juice should taste bright and sweet and rich. If it were made from red grapes and cherries and pomegranates, it probably would have tasted closer to what I had hoped. But the vegetables in this juice bring a touch of earthiness and bitterness and spice, in addition to some sweetness.

This is the thing about juicing. There is all this hype but nobody tells you that juicing vegetables intensifies the flavor of those vegetables, which means juiced broccoli tastes stronger than raw broccoli; juiced kale tastes stronger than raw kale; juiced bitter greens taste bitterer than raw bitter greens. That’s why we mix them with fruit juice. Fruits sweeten the intensity of the vegetables. Some sweeter vegetables (like the carrots and beets in this recipe) also sweeten the intensity of stronger vegetables.

What most juicing gurus fail to mention is that most people, even people who love the taste of bitter and earthy vegetables, need to transition into drinking them. Straight kale juice would convince most of us never to juice again. Even the daily juicers know that you need to cut the intensity of the kale with apples or lemons or cucumbers.

Why not drink only fruit juices, then? They’re usually sweet. You can choose to only drink juices made from fruit, but it is those stronger tasting vegetables that have a lot of the nutrients that our bodies crave. So juicing only sweet things limits the nutritional impact of juicing.

So, if you want to start juicing or you’ve tried and decided it isn’t for you, you might want to consider taking it slowly. Start with fruit juices with only a little bit of bitter greens. Add some watery vegetables like cucumbers and celery after you’ve had a few mostly fruit juices. Try some earthy vegetables (most root vegetables) next. Then start increasing your greens and decreasing the sweet stuff. Over time, your taste buds change. What once was intolerable becomes palatable. But that happens slowly.

My advice to those who want to give juicing a try is to take it slowly. Don’t push too hard because then it will feel like you’re taking your medicine rather than having a healthy drink.

A year ago I may have spit today’s juice out. Wasted it. It wasn’t sweet and it had a mix of flavors that we aren’t used to drinking. But my tastes have changed as a result of trying different variations of juiced fruits and vegetables. I enjoyed sipping it as an afternoon snack.

Still, four ounces was more than enough for me. Which is okay because in four ounces, I received a nutritional boost from a lot of vegetables, more than I’d ever be able to eat in a single sitting.


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