Here are 5 tips for success with the Mehu-Liisa steam juicer from Finland. There are so many ways to use your Mehu-Liisa from juicing fruits and tomatoes, to making jams, jellies, and syrups, to steam cooking meats, fish, and poultry. These 5 tips address basic juicing techniques and the uses of fruit with the Mehu-Liisa:
1- To save money, try u-picking drop fruit.
If you are into u-picking fruit and veggies, consider picking drop fruit (also called windfall) for juicing. Many orchards allow customers, for a considerable discount, to glean fruit that has dropped to the ground below a ripening tree. (The farmer depends on the customer’s honesty in this system, so don’t be tempted to pick fruit from the tree and call it drop.)
Often, the only thing wrong with the ripe drop fruit is a small bruise where it hit the ground. Since the fruit will be steamed, perfect condition is not necessary like with canned stone fruit or pears. All it takes is a rinse in the sink and a bit of pairing to remove bruises (if at all) when it comes time to juice. Remember, since this is ripe fruit, it is best to process immediately.
Fruits that are often available as drops include: apricots, peaches, plums (especially Italian prune plums), apples, quince, and pears.
2- All you need is a steady boil.
This is perhaps the most important tip on how to successfully use the Mehu-Liisa steam juicer. It is only necessary to produce a steady stream of steam when processing. This can be achieved with a steady boil over medium to medium-high heat. Furious boils produce lots of steam which means lots of excess condensation and the risk of boiling your pan dry. Be especially wary of the water level in your water pan if you are using propane as a heat source (like with a camp stove or turkey fryer) because the BTU rating on these burners is much higher than on a kitchen stove and will boil your pan dry before you can say liquid metal. Here is a short video of a nice steady boil:
3- Fill that basket!
As you can see from the images below, the fruit basket on the Mehu-Liisa steam juicer can be filled quite high. The dome lid will contain the steam, and the fruit will quickly reduce as its cell walls break and the juice runs into the kettle. The fruit basket can easily hold up to 12 quarts of produce, especially berries. A WORD OF CAUTION: you will get higher yields per processing batch so keep an eye on the juice level in the kettle to keep the juice from flowing over into the funnel and down into the water pan below. Here are some full baskets for you:
4- Use a timer for efficiency and safety.
It is unnecessary to process any fruit or vegetable past 45 minutes. Processing longer than that starts to extract bitter elements from the skins, pits, seeds, and pulp. I even go as short as 30 minutes for berries since they are so soft and easily release their juice. So, using a timer will maintain the quality of your juice and save you time in the long run. Using a timer will also keep you from boiling your water pan dry and damaging the juicer or your stove. Whether I am doing a single batch or a marathon processing run, I set my timer at 30 minute intervals. Whenever it goes off (I keep it with me wherever I go in the house or outside) I check the juice level (to avoid run over into the water pan) and the water level in the water pan (to avoid boiling dry).
5- Freeze your excess harvest and juice it in the dead of winter.
It’s perfectly OK to juice frozen fruit in the Mehu-Liisa. It is a wonderful way to brighten up the kitchen on a wintry day and to use excess fruit when cleaning out your freezer. I also add a quart or two of frozen berries from earlier in the season to my peach, pear, white grape, and apple processing. The mixed fruit flavor is wonderful.
The juice from frozen fruit is especially silky and rich since some of the cell walls of the fruit have already been broken due to the action of ice crystals. Though I haven’t tested it for sure, I feel like I get more juice from frozen berries than I do from fresh.
Well, we’re getting close to the juicing season. Time to clean out the freezer, sort through the canning equipment, start seeds, and dream of the harvest to come. Please let me know if you have any questions about these tips or if you have tips and recipes of your own that you would like to share.