*UPDATE, at the bottom. Because I still want you to read this. Because I like this story.*
In December of 2011 when most North Americans were bundling up their sweaters and digging out Christmas decorations and hot cocoa cups, we were settling in to our new home in Panama. We had arrived in October for a year abroad and were recovering from the shell shock that comes from transplanting your family to a place where you don’t know the language, the culture or even the climate. While strolling around the yard of our rental home, taking in the surroundings, we discovered 40+ orange trees. Apparently we were living on an old orange orchard. By looking up, things were finally starting to look up.
The orange trees were old and no longer maintained which meant the fruit had
grown feet above our heads. The hubs used a 12′ fruit picker and made it his J-O-B to get as much fruit in our possession as possible. He’d drop the fruit to the ground and the oldest and I would gather the oranges for processing.
Processing involved a plastic patio table and broken electric juicer that the hubs would just grind the oranges against. He’d pour juice into old milk jugs and so began our morning routine of orange juice with breakfast.
Fast forward to today. I no longer live in Central America. I don’t even live in Florida. My desert town gets too cold to grow citrus and I’d need about three more acres anyway. But, I’ve convinced myself that a glass of orange juice a day helps keep the sniffles away from my children so it’s still a breakfast staple.
1. Juice my own.
2. Buy a gallon of orange juice.
3. Go old-school, mom-style and use concentrate.
Fresh-squeeze: Do you know HOW MANY oranges it takes to make a gallon of orange juice? A CRAP-load. I don’t mind the effort. We make our own granola and yogurt and a bunch of other time-consuming, hippie projects that aren’t necessarily cost-effective. But I draw the line at what would amount to a $4 breakfast drink.¹
Buy the gallon: Do you know HOW MUCH a gallon of juice costs? $6-7. Jeepers! No thanks.
Sigh. That leaves me with admitting, as we all have to do at some point, that my mother was right. I used to hate concentrate because I was the one in charge of making it and it was always frozen when I was ordered to make it so I’d scoop it out one teaspoon at a time and fill it with tap water and stir and stir and stir when all I really wanted to do zone out in front of He-Man or J.E.M.
So here we are today with a Zero-Waste FAIL. Once or twice a week I throw out the can and plastic thing and throw the lid in the recycle bin. The Simply Orange container is what we reuse to make the concentrate. I like it better than pitchers because I can put the lid on and shake it hard without coating my kitchen with organic ant-attractant.
**If you do squeeze your own juice here’s a bonus we learned in Panama: the hubs would freeze some of the juice in ice trays then pop them out in the evening and let one (or two for me) slowly melt into a short tumbler of Flor de Caña rum. I’d show you a picture of that but the photographic evidence I have involves an inebriated me waving the Panama flag in the typical Panamanian too-tight top. Sorry boys. That one stays in the archives.
UPDATE: I actually weaned myself from orange juice in the morning because of cost and sugar – the eco benefits are nice too. Once a day the girls and I have an orange and just about every day we eat some bell pepper slices; broccoli a few times a week too. So we’re still getting some Vitamin C. And now orange juice is reserved for those special times we go out for breakfast.
¹Bag of oranges somewhere between $3-4, each family member requiring four oranges for 1 1/2 or juice.