Steam juicing Bing sweet cherries

Here is a new video from our Canning with Mehu-Liisa how-to video series. Our cherry season was short and not too plentiful this year. I decided to steam juice some of the sweet cherries (Bing) that we u-picked and process the left-over pulp in various ways. Sweet cherries do not release a lot of juice (freezing them beforehand increases yield, no need to thaw), and the cherries are still pretty firm after juicing so they are great for making cherry pickles, preserves, etc.

Here is the video (recipes to follow in more posts):

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I thought I would repost a few older posts about Mehu-Liisa and rhubarb. Enjoy!

Take care,


Rhubarb simple syrup:

Juicing rhubarb basics:

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Juicing vegetables with the Mehu-Liisa steam juicer.

Here is a post from my Forum about juicing vegetables:


Originally Posted by Jamie
I just got my Mehu-Liisa for Christmas and I want to make Kale, or actually any green juices, I don’t like to use a lot of sugar so I tend to stay away from the fruit juices. How would I go about juicing vegetables instead of fruit.

My reply:
Jamie –

Many Mehu-Maija users process vegetables. The most common way is to make “V8” style juices. These are usually tomato based and can contain carrots, onions, celery, beets, herbs, garlic. The variations are endless. If to be stored for any length of time past a week or so, these juices MUST BE PRESSURE CANNED as they contain low-acid vegetables. Another way to process vegetables is to make broth. By combining celery, onion, herbs, carrots, etc. with meat (chicken, beef, lamb or fish) one can make concentrated wonderfully flavorful broths. These can be used for cooking or as healthful hot beverages. Again, these products MUST BE PRESSURE CANNED as they contain low-acid vegetables and meat.

Cole crops; kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, etc., make strongly flavored juices that tend to dominate broth flavor profiles. However, by experimenting with other highly flavored vegetables and herbs a palatable concentrated broth can be created and then mixed with other juices to taste.

I can’t stress enough, THESE JUICES AND BROTHS MUST BE PRESSURE CANNED as they contain low-acid vegetables and meats. Follow these links to instructions for pressure canning:

Pressure canners
Vegetable canning
Meat canning
Fish and seafood canning

Let me know how things go and if you have any more questions.

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How to de-seed a pomegranate in 10 seconds!

This is a fantastic video tip on how to de-seed pomegranates in no time at all. This will drastically reduce the time needed to get those luscious pips into your steamer basket. Hooray for the internet!

Have fun steam juicing your pomegranates.

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So, I’ve been doing some research on steam-juicing pomegranates and have found these resources on the Internet:
– this is excellent! This person did two test batches, one with skin and one without. Great post.
– Pomegranate – Jalapeno jam!!
– great technique and visuals on how to strip the berries

If you are wondering about juicing pomegranates I hope this helps. I plan on doing a test run of pomegranates soon so look for a post.

Take Care


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Concord and Niagara grapes

I went on a glean with the Eugene Area Gleaners recently and came home with about 60 lbs of Concord and Niagara grapes. Grapes are always a pleasure to process as they release so much wonderful concentrated juice. Out of the 60 lbs. I ended up with 10.5 gals. of juice. I’ve had even higher yields with very ripe grapes. I usually mix grape juice 50-50 with seltzer water or mineral water.

I gave the grapes a quick rinse (these are organic by default) and loaded up the fruit baskets while the water pan came up to a boil.

Here is my two pot set up (you can see the juice coming up into the hoses). They look like they are tipping out but they are not. The setup is level, the illusion is from the camera lens. I am using a propane camp stove so I give special attention to the burner settings. Propane burns quite hot and I don’t want to boil my pans dry. All that is needed is a steady boil. As always, I set my timers (on front of stove frame) and check the water every 15-30 mins. I can usually get through a complete processing (45 mins.) without needing to refill the pans.

I’m about half way through processing here. The first runs were a 60-40 mix of Niagara to Concord. This ratio yields a more mellow juice then 100% Concord and a juice with more character then 100% Niagara.


The next run was with frozen strawberries added. I freeze a lot of small berries in season to use throughout the following year. This Niagara/Strawberry blend is luscious. I used 2 quarts of frozen berries per basket and placed them on top of the grapes. The left hand picture shows grapes on top of the strawberries because I decided to add more at the last minute. The right hand picture shows how much the fruit collapses after 30 – 40 mins. There is really no reason to steam past this stage.


Per basket (processing run)-

1 – Rinse grapes and remove any debris. It is not necessary to stem the grapes. Do not let them sit in the water too long.

2 – Add about 12 lbs. of grapes to the fruit basket (mound the grapes up above the top of the basket, the lid will cover them fine).

CAUTION: Do not push down on the grapes to pack them into the basket. You will run the risk of collapsing the convex bottom of the basket, causing the juice to run into the steam funnel.

3 – Add sweetener to taste. I rarely use sweetener for grapes, especially Niagara. However, if the fruit is not fully ripe, 1-2 cups per basket to taste is a good rule.

4 – Fit the basket and lid onto the juicer body. Bring water to a steady boil.

5 – Set timer to 30 mins. as soon as water comes to a boil.

CAUTION: You must monitor the stove heat and water pan to avoid boiling the pan dry. Using a standard household stove top with water at a steady boil (not furious) you should be fine for up to 45 mins. But, set the timer at 30 mins. just to be safe.

6 – When timer goes off after 30 mins.

A – check the juice level. (With grapes it is best to drain off a quart of juice so that juice doesn’t leak into the water pan through the steam funnel)

B – check the water level. It should be no lower than half way down the side of the water pan. Add water as necessary

C – set timer for 15 mins more

7 – When timer goes off after 15 mins.

A – Turn burner off

B – Draw off juice into sanitized jars, attach lids and bands.

C – Water bath your jars as soon as you get 5-7 quarts (avg. water bath capacity).

ATTENTION: USDA recommends processing juice in a hot water bath for 15 mins. per quart. Consult your local Extension Service for more information.

With frozen berries-

1 – When you fill the fruit basket, top off with 2 quarts (more or less to taste) of frozen berries such as strawberry, raspberry, blueberries, cherries, etc.

2 – Add sugar to taste

3 – Process as above

Please let me know how your juicing adventures go and if you have any questions.

Take Care,


Posted in Fall, grapes, recipes, Seasonal Fruit, strawberries, Tips and Techniques | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Hard Cider and Perry with steamed juice

Making hard cider with steamed juice from the Mehu-Liisa steam juicer is fascinating and rewarding. Last year’s batch was delicious and I look forward to this year’s brewing. Below I give general info and some more specific tips on using steamed juice from the Mehu-Liisa to make hard cider and perry. Scroll down a bit to skip the general info and get right to the recipes.


I have been rehabilitating an old apple tree in our back yard over the past 4 years and last year the tree rewarded my efforts with a huge crop. There are three different varieties grafted onto the burly trunk; Gravenstein (first 2 photos above), an early golden and a late golden (last photo on right). I do not know the exact variety of these golden apples. The early one is mealy and not very flavorful. The later golden is crisp and flavorful with a nice dusky aroma.


I am slowly removing the laterals of the early golden variety and adding scions of Winter Banana via top worked cleft grafts. Winter Banana is known as a good cider apple for its strong aroma and sweetness. I am also top working scions of Ashmead’s Kernel onto the upper branches as well. Both of these varieties are excellent cider apples. I would eventually like to get a bitter-sharp apple as well. As you see in the pictures above, I have cleft grafted two scions per stub. The healthiest scion wins out and the weaker gets pruned out in winter.


While I wait for the late goldens to ripen, I have steam-juiced the Gravensteins and held a few over in the fridge for later pressing. I have been picking up the drops as well and storing (sweating) the best in my garage. Many cider manuals suggest “sweating” your apples (especially later, keeper varieties) for a week or two before pressing so any remaining starches will be converted to sugar. All bruises and pest damage will be cut out at pressing time. Last year I pressed 12 gallons of fresh cider from the tree. I also used about a gallon of steamed juice of Gravenstein apples as well.


I rented a small press from a local brewing supply shop (Falling Sky Brewery) and enjoyed a sunny afternoon pressing my apples. I didn’t keep track of how many apples I pressed, but it was about 4 of these wheel barrows full. If you figure each barrow holds about a bushel and one bushel yields about 2-3 gallons of juice that is about right for my 12 gallon yield. I did not sweat these apples. Perhaps my yield will be better this year after sweating. I am planning to buy Spitzenburg, Winter Banana, and Northern Spy from a local orchard to give the cider more character.

I fermented seven gallons of pressed cider into very dry (I prefer dry cider to sweet) “Champagne Cider” using Champagne yeast. This I bottled in champagne bottles and stored in the basement. I am still working my way through it. I will not go into this process here as I want to focus on the batches that used steamed juice from the Mehu-Liisa. The remainder I fermented with steamed juice of rhubarb, plum and peach in several trial batches. I also fermented one gallon of steamed apple juice and one gallon of steamed pear juice.

Of all the batches, I enjoyed the mixed fruit juice ciders the best, though the peach blend was fairly dull. The rhubarb blend was excellent with nice tart and tannic flavors and a bright aroma. This was my favorite. The plum blend was beautiful with a deep Prussian blue color and sweeter taste and aroma. The champagne cider is still improving in the bottle. It is not particularly interesting but is drinkable and is improved with a spot of black-current liqueur added.


Disclaimer: I am not a virtuoso home-brewer. I give bare-bones information here hoping folks will dive in and start enjoying home brewing. I suggest consulting a quality home-brewing guide.

Steamed Fruit Juice-Cider Blends (in all of this, absolute adherence to proper sanitation is necessary):

  • Dissolve 1 campden tablet per gallon of fresh cider. Let sit for 48 hours.
    • It is not necessary to add campden tabs to the steamed juice as it is pasteurized.
  • Choose 1 qt per gallon of cider of your preferred steamed fruit juice.
  • Add quart of steamed juice to gallon bottle, top off with fresh cider.

(I used air-locks here to keep contaminants out while I worked.)

  • Determine specific gravity (SG). (consult brewing guide for details)
    • Add apple juice concentrate to bring SG to between 1.055 and 1.070
      • This will result in potential alcohol content from 4.5 – 6.5% depending on how well the yeast consumes the sugars.
        • 2 oz. of apple juice concentrate per gallon of juice raises SG .005
  • Add the following nutrients and conditioners per gallon:
    • Tannin        ¼ tsp
    • Nutrient    ¼ tsp
    • Pectic Enzyme    ½ tsp
    • Anti-Oxi    ½ tsp
      • These are amounts that I determined would be appropriate for the juices I chose; rhubarb, plum and peach. They should work for other fruits as well. One can really get into the science of making cider by testing for acid content, etc. and adjusting with exact amounts of these nutrients and conditioners.
  • Pitch yeast
    • For the peach blend I used Red Star Champagne yeast for a very dry result.
    • For the other fruit blends I used Wyeast cider yeast as recommended at my local brew shop.
  • Primary fermentation
    • I attach a bung with a hole to each gallon and run a length of tubing from the bung to a bucket of StarSan sanitation solution (see photo below). This creates an air-tight pathway for the scum and foam that forms during primary fermentation to exit from the bottle.

  • Primary fermentation can take from 1-2 weeks to complete. It is complete when no visible signs of fermenting are taking place, ie; no bubbling or burping or fizzing.
  • Secondary fermentation
    • Take a second SG reading to determine alcohol content.
    • Rack-off into secondary fermenting vessels (transfer from one bottle to another. Scrupulous sanitary practices are paramount!!).
    • Top off with fully fermented cider or dry white wine (bring the liquid up to the neck of the bottle).
    • Attach air-locks and store cider in cool dark place for 3-6 months. During this period further racking-off can take place to clarify the resulting cider.
  • Bottling
    • Dissolve 1/6 cup of dextrose in ½ cup of water. Let cool and add to bottling bucket. This is to bottle condition the cider for carbonation.
    • Rack-off the cider into the bottling bucket. This mixes the cider and dextrose solution. No stirring is necessary.
    • Fill bottles with preferred method, and cap. I like to use the clamp top pint bottles (like Grolsch beer bottles).
    • Store in cool dark place for as long as you can stand it. It’s worth the wait.

Steamed Fruit Juice alone:

  • Follow all the above directions with the following adjustments
    • No campden tablets needed as the juice is pasteurized
    • Adjust the nutrients and conditioners as follows
      • Apple:
        • Tannin        ¼ ts
        • Nutrient    ¼ tsp
        • Pectic Enzyme    ½ tsp
        • Anti-Oxi    ½ tsp
        • Acid Blend    ¼ tsp
      • Pear:
        • Tannin        ¼ tsp
        • Nutrient    ¼ tsp
        • Pectic Enzyme    ½ tsp
        • Anti-Oxi    ½ tsp
        • Acid Blend    ¼ tsp
    • At rack-off for second ferment I added a dry white wine to top-off the bottles (pinot grigio).
    • During bottling I followed the same ratios of dextrose and water as above. I used the same clamp top bottles.

After 7 months, the steamed apple juice cider was just as good as the fresh cider if a little less fragrant. Nice and dry. The perry was perhaps the best of all these recipes. This was a surprise as the perry was kind of an after-thought during the processing of the other batches. It had a wonderful fresh pear nose and definite Bartlett aroma. Nice and dry. I drank it on ice in the heat of the summer.

So, as I said, these are the basics and I highly recommend getting a home-brewing guide or cider-making guide (you’ll find a bit of snobbery here regarding anything but fresh cider in cider making). And the most important thing to remember is: be absolutely diligent in your sanitation throughout all the steps.

Now, go make some cider!!

Take Care


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