After hearing multiple times on food preservation blogs about the convenience of a steam juicer and how passionately people appreciate having them, I finally purchased one in late 2023. (This one, to be specific.) It ended up just sitting in its box on a chair in the kitchen for months.
I had several bags of cherries sitting in my freezer waiting to be juiced, but I kept putting it off thinking that, despite what people say online, it would be a messy, exhausting process. My traditional electric juicer is messy and exhausting to use with big batches—it’s the kind with the spinning grater that grinds up the fruit/veg and separates the juice from most (but not all) the solids. Whenever I would use that, I’d end up with bits and pieces of fruit/veg all over the kitchen, no matter how careful I am with being neat and tidy. And it’s a process that requires a ton of work, from prepping the fruit/veg, to manually pushing it through the juicer, to having to stop and clean out the solids every so often.
That juicer works terribly with cherries. I think the fruit is too soft and light and it ends up throwing the fruit around rather than truly juicing it. As well, to use that juicer I have to stem and pit all the cherries first.
I had five bags in the freezer, weighing somewhere around 30 pounds. I wasn’t going to stem and pit them all.
So, I finally pulled the steam juicer out and…what a revelation!
What is a steam juicer?
Steam juicers are a specialized piece of kitchen equipment consisting of three pots that fit together.
The bottom pot is filled with water and when the stove is turned on, this boils and releases steam into the system, which allows all the juicing magic to work.
The top pot is really a colander—the bottom and sides of it has dozens and dozens of holes. The fruit or veg gets put in this pot. The steam rises, releases the juice from the fruit/veg, and the juice drips through the colander holes into the middle pot.
This pan can fit a lot of fruit. It took only three run-throughs to process all my cherries.
The middle pot is almost bundt-pan like. There’s a hole in the centre for the steam to rise and make all this magic happen. The juice collects in this pot and, when you’re ready, there’s a hose and clamp attached to it so you can drain the juice into jars.
How to juice cherries using a steam juicer
Fill the bottom pot with water. If the instructions specify to fill it to a certain level, always follow these instructions. Mine did not have a specific level required, so I just filled it up to near-full.
Place the middle pot on top. My bottom pot has a little half-circle cut out of its top lip to accommodate the hosing from the middle pot, so if yours has that too, ensure these are properly aligned as it’ll mean the pieces are all fitting together properly.
Place the top pot on top.
Wash/rinse cherries and remove any with blemishes, underripe fruit, or anything else that looks less-than-ideal. I read through a handful of instructions online and it seems to be mixed on if the cherries should be pitted and destemmed first, so I did not bother with this.
Fill the top pot with cherries. In the photo below, mine are still semi-frozen. If you have frozen cherries, you don’t need to thaw them first.
Put the lid on.
Set the burner to high until the water boils, then reduce the heat so it continues to simmer.
Let the steam juicer do its work. I found it took about an hour for a potful of cherries to fully juice.
Every once in a while, carefully lift off the middle and top pots to check on the water level in the bottom pot. If needed, add hot water (or boiling water fresh from the kettle) to top up its levels. I also regularly checked on the volume level in the middle pot since I wasn’t sure how much juice was going to be pulled from the cherries—I didn’t want to run the risk of it overflowing and that precious juice falling down into the water pot. You can also check on the cherries in the top pot to give you a sense of how far along you are—once the volume had decreased about 75%, that was my cue that I was just about done. Please use oven mitts as the handles can get very hot.
When everything is fully processed, carefully remove from heat and use the hose to drain the juice into jars or whatever storage vessel you’re using. Once the majority of the juice has drained, you’ll want to carefully tip the pot forward a little bit to pool the remaining juice in front of the hose. To be safe, you might want to remove the top pot and put it aside, so the unit isn’t top-heavy and at risk of completely tipping.
Alternatively, to get the last of the juice, you can lift the middle pot right out and pour the juice directly from the pot into the jar, while being very careful not to spill hot juice on yourself.
How to preserve cherry juice
My attempt at juicing cherries resulted in about three gallons of juice. With this I set up three one-gallon batches of cherry wine and was left with a litre (four cups) of cherry juice. I just stuck these in the fridge so my husband and I can add it to our kombucha.
However, there are several options here:
- If you don’t have a lot and will use it soon, put it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge.
- Juice can be frozen in jars or plastic containers. When I freeze juice, I try to use straight-sided jars that don’t have shoulders—sometimes juice can expand when freezing and you don’t want to risk the jar breaking—and I leave about an inch of headspace. You can likely store it for several months before quality starts to degrade.
- Cherry juice can also be canned! (This site has some instructions)
- There are endless other options, including cherry wine, cherry jelly, popsicles, and more.
How to Juice Cherries Using a Steam Juicer
- 1 Steam Juicer
- Wash and drain cherries. No need to de-stem or de-pit them. Remove any cherries that have blemishes or are damaged.
- Set up the steam juicer as per the instructions that came with your juicer. If you don't have instructions, fill the bottom pot with water till nearly full, then place the juice collector pot on top, and then the colander pot on top.
- Fill the colander pot with cherries and cover with the lid.
- Turn on stove to high until the water in the bottom pot is boiling, then reduce heat to medium and keep water simmering.
- Let simmer for approximately an hour, until cherries have been juiced.
- Turn off the stove and remove the pot from heat. Being careful since things are hot, release the lamp and drain cherry juice into jars or other storage containers. Cherry remnants may be composted or discarded.
- Juice can be used immediately in recipes that call for cherry juice. If you're planning to use or consume it in the next few days, juice can be stored in the fridge. For longer storage, juice can be frozen in mason jars or other freezer-safe containers—but leave some headspace and avoid jars with "shoulders" in case juice expands when frozen as this can shatter a jar. Juice can also be canned using a water bath canner (this site has some instructions).