Remember Your Grandmother's Vintage Glass Juicer? I Still Use It All the Time
While a juicer may not be as quintessentially Southern as, say, sterling julep cups or a Lodge cast iron skillet, they are a fixture in kitchens all across the South—and for good reason. They are iconic, beautifully made, and incredibly useful. These glass beauties, especially when they are vintage or made out of depression glass, are the easiest way to extract the juice from citrus.
Juice has been a part of the human diet for centuries. As First We Feast points out, even The Dead Sea Scrolls, which date back to 150 BC include a recipe of sorts for "a pounded mash of pomegranate and fig," a.k.a. juice. For years, though, humans who wanted juice had to hand-squeeze lemons or oranges or pomegranates or in the case of wine, or as my mother calls it, grown up juice, grapes were juiced by foot. Lemonade became popular in the Middle East, coming to Italy in the 16th century, with orange juice first becoming popular in the 17th century, according to Vice. The Southern California Fruit Exchange, later known as Sunkist, opened its doors in 1893, selling Americans on the idea of orange juice as a wholesome, vitamin-packed drink.
For Americans wanting to juice at home, though, they had to squeeze oranges, lemons, and grapefruits by hand, which is why these clever hand-powered juicers have had a home in kitchens for generations. They were the main way to extract juice from your favorite citrus fruit until a man named Norman W. Walker invented the mechanical juicer in 1936, according to The Atlantic.
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Unless you're an avid juicer, or if you're lucky enough to have citrus trees growing in your backyard, though, there's usually no need to swap your manual juicer for an electric juicer taking up space on your counter. For most home cooks who need a little fresh-squeezed key lime juice for their key lime pound cake, some fresh squeezed juice for grapefruit bars, or lemon juice for a glass of ice cold lemonade, the classic citrus juicer will never lose its spot in the kitchen.
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