by Josh Taylor
Juicing has a ton of benefits, from the many micronutrients and phytonutrients to the living enzymes and bacteria. One of the hesitations some people have about unpasteurized juice is the shelf life. Many things come in to play when it comes to shelf life, and they are all things that need to be evaluated and considered before you start juicing.
The first thing you need to consider is the source of your produce. If you are buying your produce from a local farmer, kudos to you. This is one of the best places to obtain produce. If you have the energy, time and wherewithal to start your own garden, that is a wonderful option as well.
The reason this is so important is from the moment you pick your produce, it begins to decrease in nutritional value. Most of the items sold at the farmers markets were typically picked the day before, which leaves the bulk of the nutrients intact. If you buy your produce from the local supermarket, be sure and check the location the produce was grown. When produce is grown in other countries, it can take weeks to arrive at your supermarket. By the time it arrives, that produce has already lost about 40 percent of its nutritional value.
The other important thing about local produce is it’s grown in the environment you live in. Much like “local” honey obtained in your town or rural area, produce grown in our environment is exposed to the same pollutants and local allergens. As living organisms, these plants build up their own immune systems to minimize the negative effects of these environmental irritants. We benefit from the built-up immunities in local produce when we eat them.
It’s important to know how to store raw juice once it has been extracted from produce. Plastic is not recommended for longer-term storage because plastic is permeable and allows oxidation to occur. Oxidation in simple terms is when the nutrients begin to break down as a result of oxygen being present. The less oxygen the better, and when raw juice is stored in plastic, nutrients are constantly diminishing.
One way around this is to store your juice in glass containers. Even in glass, it’s important to minimize exposure to oxygen. To help with that, store your juice in glass containers that only hold one serving, which is typically 16 ounces. That way, you only have to open the container one time.
The type of juicer you use also impacts the life of the juice. There are many studies that show that the bulk of the nutrients die off after about four hours. This is true when a high-speed commercial or home-use juicer is used. This is because it creates heat through friction and does damage to the micro and phytonutrients. This accelerates oxidation and the shelf life is greatly decreased. When using a high speed juicer or a blender, it is best to consume the juice immediately to get the most benefit out of the remaining nutrients. If you don’t want to have to juice several times a day and consume the juice immediately each time, using a slow churn or cold press juicer is going to be a better option. These types of juicers actually work to preserve the nutrients and enzymes for up to nine days when refrigerated and stored in glass.
A quick tip to help extend the life of the juice is to include a little bit of lemon or lime in your recipes. These fruits contain citric acid that works as a natural preservative and can help keep the juice for a longer period of time.
Josh Taylor is co-founder of Juicer Heroes, which has locations at 14337 San Pedro (210-233-9958) and 18730 Stone Oak Parkway (210-332- 5853) in San Antonio. Visit www.JuicerHeroes.com for more information.