I picked up a nice, ripe flat of Shuksan strawberries at the market last weekend and pulled some stalks of rhubarb from my garden in preparation for making strawberry-rhubarb juice, jelly, and syrup with the Mehu-Liisa steam juicer from Finland. I’ve outlined the basic steps for steam juicing strawberries and rhubarb below:
I knew I wouldn’t be able to get to the berries for a few days, so I froze them. On processing day, after I picked the rhubarb and cleaned it up, I put the frozen berries in the fruit basket of the Mehu-Liisa and set the stalks of rhubarb on top. (There is no need to thaw frozen berries, just put them right in the basket.) Then, I set the water pan on the stove to come to a steady boil. A steady boil is all you need; avoid furious boils as they may lead to a burnt water pan.
I like to have all my canning tools and utensils clean and ready to go before I start processing. Here I have inspected my Tattler reusable rings and lids and given them a good wash in hot soapy water. Then I boiled the rings and lids for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, I turn the heat off and leave the pan on the burner.
With the fruit in the basket and the Mehu-Liisa steam juicer assembled on the stove, I gather all the tools I will need for drawing off juice and set my digital timer for 30 minutes. This is a safe processing time. It assures that the water pan won’t boil dry and no juice will spill down the steam funnel into the water pan. After 30 minutes, if I want to keep processing, I set the timer at 15 minute intervals.
I checked the water level and fruit levels at 15 minute intervals (first image is after 15 minutes, last after 45) throughout the processing to demonstrate how the fruit drains its juice and shrinks over the course of the processing and the level of water follows suit. I do not go more than 45 minutes for soft fruit like strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, blueberries. Most of the water that leaves the water pan exits the Mehu-Liisa as steam. The unit is designed to allow excess steam to escape, thereby reducing dilution of the finished product.
After 30 minutes, I drain off the first run of juice into sanitized (washed in hot soapy water and put through a full cycle on high heat in the dishwasher) canning jars and affix the rings, lids, and bands and set the jars aside. I finish the session by steam processing the jars in an atmospheric steam canner. These canners are now recommended by the USDA as safe for use in canning following their guidelines.
This session yielded 4 quarts of rich juice from about 11 pounds of berries. After processing was done (about 45 minutes), I left the juicer on the stove top and let it drain into the kettle for another hour without any heat. This yielded another quart of juice to add to the 3 that came direct from the hot Mehu-Liisa. I will put this jar in the refrigerator for making jelly and syrup in the next few days. To the left are the 3 processed quarts and all the ingredients I need for making strawberry-rhubarb jelly and syrup. Look for those posts in the next few days.
I hope you got some good info out of this post and that you will be inspired to get your Mehu-Liisa steam juicer out and start the season off right with some strawberry-rhubarb juice, jelly, and syrup.