Help these juices reach their highest potential through easy clarification. By Elysia Bagley.
You don’t have to have fancy equipment to get awesomely fresh tasting, crystal clear juices for your cocktails. For many common juices, a simple filtration method or agar agar gelling will do the trick.
Clarified juices, of course, keep your juicy cocktails fresh and looking lovely. It not only makes juices super sexy looking – it also extends their shelf life, helping you reduce waste and get the most for your money.
Another hot tip? Use clarified juice in place of water in a 1:1 ratio with sugar to make awesome fruit syrups that crush any thought of ever using artificially flavoured stuff.
How to clarify juice:
Simply line a strainer with a coffee filter, pour in the juice, and allow it to drip through. The filter catches pulp, seeds, skin and any other tiny particles that make the juice cloudy – and on the other side you’ll have a clear, clean liquid.
This method comes from David Arnold (author of Liquid Intelligence), first published on his blog over a decade ago. He’s the clarification master.
For agar agar clarification, you want 2% of the total liquid in agar agar powder (so for 100ml of liquid, you’d need 2g agar agar). Your liquid ratio should be 4:1 (juice to water). Mix agar agar and water over heat and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, then stir in juice over heat for a few seconds (the mix should be about 35C). Remove and pour into a bowl, set the bowl in an ice bath. When it looks like a gel, it is set. Use a whisk to gently break up gel into “curds”. Place in cheesecloth (muslin cloth) and lightly squeeze to get your clear juice.
Note that agar agar may impart flavour – taste it.
Now, here are 10 juices you should be clarifying:
The little particles that come out with the juice when squeezing citrus fruits do more than just make the liquid cloudy. It’s those little particles that cause oxidisation, and when a juice oxidises, its flavour changes. As one of the staple juices behind the bar, you want your lime juice to keep longer so you’re not constantly squeezing fruit. Try making Daiquiris with clarified and unclarified lime juice – you’ll notice the difference.
Like lime, pure lemon juice will oxidise quickly. Clarify it so it stays fresh longer with the added bonus of brighter, purer flavour.
Clarify grapefruit juice for the same reasons as lemon and lime, but moreover, in Liquid Intelligence, Arnold explains that the particles in juice also reduce the carbonation in bubbly drinks. Grapefruit juice is a favourite for fizzy tipples, so clarify to keep that fizziness at its peak. Test it in a Paloma, for instance.
To get that savoury tomato flavour without all the heavy texture, clarify it. We’re not saying clarify your Bloody Mary (we like a bit of food feel for our hangovers), but tomato-spiked drinks are hot these days, and this is how to get the taste while still keeping your drink light and clean.
Watermelon juice, while delicious, is frothy and grainy, and freshly juiced as is can quickly turn your drink into kind of a mess. Eliminate that reside that floats to the top and collects on the glass by clarifying.
Like a fine white wine, fresh grape juice is meant to be clear. If you’re pressing whole grapes, clarifying cleans out residue that causes cloudiness. Face it, no one wants gritty, cloudy grape juice. It’s just weird. Clarifying is especially important for making your own verjus, where you want those clean, tart flavours to shine. To remove tannins (which cause that papery, astringent mouthfeel) from your grape juice, however, you will need a clarifying agent, such as gelatine.
Imagine a clear Screwdriver. That’s why. Also, like we’ve really implied here, no one likes pulp in their cocktails these days.
Pineapple juice plays a big role in a lot of clarified milk punches because of its acidity and the beautiful results it yields. But in other drinks, pineapple juice straight up has a lot of texture and stringy bits that, like watermelon, float to the top and gunk up your drink. Clarify it for better texture (and prettiness).
Pro tip: Pineapple contains bromelain, which is what makes your tongue start to hurt after eating too much. Same can happen with juice. Here’s a method that many chefs swear by to reduce the effect: soak your whole pineapple in salt water before cutting it up.
Muddled strawberries mean chunks in your drink, meaning either sucking up bits (or getting them stuck) in a straw, or if strawless, struggling to get them into your mouth. If you want a punch of strawberry flavour without the mafan, clarify the juice. This will require a little more work – try agar agar clarification, or, if you’ve got one, do it by centrifuge.
So, turns out, fresh apple juice has this murky tan colour. Not so appealing – or at least we’ve been trained to feel that way, as most commercially produced apple juices are clear. Like many others, fresh apple juice gets foamy, cloudy, and grainy – apples are high in fibre, and leave a lot of it behind in the glass. Yes, sometimes cloudy apple juice is appealing (like with American-style apple cider), but for your cocktails, a clean juice is much nicer.