Unlike fresh juices, where just the juice is extracted from fruit or vegetables leaving the pulp behind, smoothies are made by processing the whole fruit or vegetable with added juice, milk or yogurt. A glass of juice can count as only one of our “5 a day” regardless of how many different kinds of fruit and vegetables have been used to make it. A smoothie, on the other hand, contains much higher levels of fiber, carbohydrate, fruit sugars and vitamin C, so one glass is much more nutritionally satisfying.
Making the Perfect Smoothie
How should I prepare the ingredients?
When making smoothies, fruits and vegetables need to be peeled and any pips, cores, seeds and stalks removed before being placed into your smoothie blender with fruit juice, vegetable juice, milk or yogurt. The exceptions are strawberries and raspberries where it’s impossible to remove their tiny seeds; figs and kiwi fruit where the seeds can be left in; and any fruits that are too small to peel such as grapes, cherries and blueberries.
How thick should a smoothie be?
Smoothies are thicker than plain juices and a very pulpy smoothie, especially one with added starch such as lentils or bulghur wheat, will thicken up on standing. If a smoothie becomes too thick for your liking, dilute it with water, milk, extra fruit or vegetable juice. Alternatively, add a few chunks of watermelon or cucumber (both of which contain a large amount of water) and process again to reach the desired consistency. How thick a smoothie should be comes down to personal preference. Some like to be able to eat a smoothie with a spoon, others like for them to be more thinner and drink easily from a straw.
Does a smoothie need sweetening?
Most smoothies will be sweet enough for most people due to the natural sugars contained in the fruits and vegetables but if you find a drink too sharp, feel free to sweeten it with a little clear honey or maple syrup rather than refined sugar, as both contain added health benefits. If a smoothie is too sweet for your taste, sharpen it by adding a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice. When sweetening or sharpening the flavor of a smoothie, do this just before drinking it as its flavor, including its natural sweetness, will become more pronounced the longer it is left to stand.
How long will a smoothie keep?
Ideally smoothies are best drunk as soon as they are prepared due to the diminishing vitamin count that occurs the longer it’s left standing. Once your smoothie is exposed to the air, fruit will begin to oxidize and drinks containing apples or bananas can discolor and turn brown, while citrus flavors become more pronounced and begin to dominate more delicate fruits.
Why has my blueberry and yogurt smoothie curdled?
If a smoothie is made by blending citrus fruits, berries (particularly blueberries), or pineapple with dairy products such as milk, yogurt or ice cream, it needs to be consumed immediately as the longer it is left to stand the more it will thicken and take on an unappetizing, curdled appearance. This is caused by the reaction of a protein found in a cow’s milk called casein with the fruit. All is not lost, however, as you can rescue the smoothie by pushing it through a sieve or returning it to the blender and processing it again. The result will be nearer a mousse than a drink, but still irresistible!
If you do need to prepare a smoothie in advance, blitz fruit or vegetables and juice together without adding any dairy ingredients. Store it in a covered container in the fridge and either whisk or blend in the milk or yogurt before serving.
To avoid the problem of curdling, you can replace dairy products with soy milk, soy yogurt, soy “ice cream,” or silken tofu, as they do not contain casein.
How can I remove too much froth from a smoothie?
Some fruits, notably apples and pears, produce a thicker head of froth than others and the easiest way to remove or reduce this is by skimming off the froth with a spoon. The alternative is to serve the smoothie with a straw so the juice can be drunk from the bottom of the glass and the froth left behind.
If I create my own smoothie recipes, can I use any combination of fruit and vegetables?
Yes! Just remember that a smoothie needs to look fresh and luscious so when selecting your smoothie ingredients try to picture what the final color of your smoothie will be. A glass of something resembling pond water is unlikely to tempt your or anyone else taste buds.
It’s best to avoid combining too many strong flavors as they will battle for domination in your finished drink. Fruit and vegetables that have dense flesh like mango, banana and avocado should also be balanced with juicier ones like melon, cucumber and oranges.
As always, we encourage you to experiment in your kitchen making a great tasting smoothie. Once you have one that you are proud of, we encourage you to share your smoothie recipe with everyone on SmoothieNinja.com by clicking here.