As promised, occasionally we’ll celebrate some of the food holidays we chose to skip last year in favor of others. Today marks one of those. January 15 is National Fresh Squeezed Juice Day!
Actually, this is a recent addition to the calendar. I updated the National Food Holidays page to directly link to each challenge, and in the process, did some double-checking against a variety of online calendars looking for missed holidays. There were a bunch, as it turns out. I lamented often last year about the lack of consistency between calendars and our “majority rules” stipulation. I have yet to find two food holiday calendars that are perfectly identical, but feels ours is as close to perfect as it gets!
This holiday was a timely one, as Tara had zested a bunch of lemons over the weekend in order to bake my dad a birthday cake, and had no idea what to do with the leftover peeled lemons. I’ve always subscribed to the axiom “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade!” – and in this case, I took that quite literally. Fresh squeezed lemonade it was!
Fresh squeezed juices have been a staple of the American diet ever since some klutzy Colonist accidentally stepped on an orange. Actually, that’s not what the history books tell us, though it makes for a humorous story. Humans have probably been drinking the juices from a variety of fruits for thousands of years, but the modern juice industry got its start in the mid-1910s thanks to an excess of oranges. California farmers had grown too many to sell, and not wanting to waste them, decided to juice them instead, taking advantage of a new process known as pasteurization. Now the juice could be stored for longer periods of time, and the nation’s railway system was able to whisk away cartons to major cities around the country. The juicing industry was born.
Of course, this refers to commercial juice, which is anything but fresh-squeezed. Fresh juice was seen as a healthy alternative to sodas and other beverages, and in the 1980s the popularity of juice bars (and home juicing machines) exploded. Suddenly, every Dick and Jane worth their salt was juicing their own fresh squeezed oranges, apples, grapefruits, pineapples, tomatoes, grapes, carrots, cranberries, mangoes, passion fruit, and pomegranates.
I have always been a big fan of lemonade, and fresh squeezed is about a thousand times superior to Minute Maid or any type of frozen concentrate. Tonight’s was no exception!