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Putting the Squeeze on Fruits

March 19, 1992|KITTY MORSE | Kitty Morse is a writer and cookbook author living in Vista.

In this age of low-cal colas and "designer" mineral waters, increasing numbers of thirsty consumers are electing instead to quench their thirst with fresh fruit juices.

A number of supermarkets today carry fresh juices--squeezed on site, bottled daily by companies such as Los Angeles-based Naked Juice, or produced by local growers.

"The concept of juicing is to maximize the amount of nutrition. You couldn't really eat five pounds of carrots or apples at one sitting, but you could certainly juice them," said Maryanne Ibarra, director of health education for Boney's markets. As a matter of fact, those watching their blood sugar levels are advised to dilute fresh fruit juices or limit their intake.

From citrus to apples, North County growers produce a variety of fruits destined to become juice. Here are a few of the offerings:

Donna Sherrill of Sherrill Orchards in Santa Ysabel gets up at the crack of dawn several times a week to make deliveries in North County.

"Freshly squeezed juices not only taste good, but are good for you, and are loaded with vitamins," Sherrill said.

She sells bottles filled with a rainbow of juices and entices new customers with exotic blends: a rosy mixture of apple and cherry juices, or a green-tinged mix of apple and kiwi.

Sherrill can offer a running commentary, interspersed with enlightening nutritional information. She points to the ruby-red pomegranate juice, a sweet and tangy beverage. "Pomegranate juice is high in iron. Don't confuse it with grenadine syrup, which is used to impart a crimson color to other drinks," she said. The apple-kiwi, she says, is pure, naturally sweetened, high in Vitamin C, and easier to digest than straight apple juice.

Sherrill gets all her fruit from the family ranches, sometimes mixing new concoctions on the spot. "Here, try this," she says with an engaging smile, handing a customer a cupful of her just-created blend of pomegranate and apple juices.

Sherrill Orchards, P.O. Box 217 Santa Ysabel, CA 92070. Sundays only: 765-1124. (Across from Double M Cafe in Santa Ysabel on California 78.) Stand open Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pomegranate juice and apple-kiwi, available at Pacific Beach farmer's market, Jonathan's Market in Rancho Santa Fe and Big Bear in Del Mar.

For Woody Barnes, manager of Manzanita Ranch in Julian, growing apples and making cider has been a family enterprise since 1907, when his grandfather planted his first orchard. "We've always had fruit trees. We've always raised apples, and we've always made cider," he said. To this day, the family still sells mainly through its roadside stand in Julian.

"Apple cider is a little like wine," Barnes said. "All apples will make cider, but not really good cider, and certain apple varieties have a better taste than others." In the United States, apple cider and apple juice are actually two different names for the same product, unlike in Europe where cider refers to a fermented version of the beverage.

"Raw cider is sold freshly pressed, and has a muddy appearance," he said. It will stay fresh for a few days in the refrigerator, and freezes well. Pasteurized cider, a clear, amber liquid usually sold in stores, is filtered, then heated for a few seconds and sealed--and its taste is somewhat different from that of the raw.

For the best possible raw cider, Barnes uses a high percentage of tart apples such as Jonathans, Pippins, Winesaps, or Gravensteins. "We try to blend several varieties to obtain a good balance," he said, adding that the Red Delicious is one apple not conducive to making good cider. To accommodate customers who want variety, he sometimes adds raspberry or cherry concentrate to the apple juice.

Manzanita Ranch, 4470, California 78, Julian, CA. 92036. 765-002. Stand hours 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 7 days a week, year-round. Raw or pasteurized cider (available from mid-September until mid-April) $4.75 gallon, $3 a half gallon. Apple-cherry or raspberry blends, $3.25 a half gallon.

At the Apple Bar Ranch--another family operation--John and Terri Fry help Terri's father, Charles Goebel, raise apples and produce apple cider. In season, John and Terri sell cider at the Escondido and Vista farmer's markets, and directly from the ranch. On 38 acres, which Charles has farmed for the past 27 years, they grow pears and more than a dozen varieties of apples. "Winesaps are a particular favorite," John says.

The Apple Bar ranch cider is a combination of 60% sweet apples, and 40% sour fruit--such as Jonathans and Granny Smiths. "This gives a neat blend of flavors," John said. The unpasteurized, unfiltered, raw cider is extracted with the help of hydraulic machines, and all the operations follow health department standards. Their cider is sold only in San Diego County.

Apple Bar Ranch, 3767 Wynola Road. 92070. (Between Santa Ysabel and Julian, on California 79.) 765-0702. The Packing Shed is open only during the fall apple season. Cider $3 a half-gallon, $5.50 a gallon.

Although Joan Uribe lets someone else process her organically grown lemons, they find their way back to North County in R.W. Knudsen and Sons juices, such as Organic Lemonade or Organic Raspberry Lemonade.

Joan and her husband, Miguel, the owners of Integrity Produce in Valley Center, grow more than 600 acres of organic lemons on their ranches. They sell their large lemons to distributors nationwide.

The Uribes turned to organic farming to help secure a healthy lifestyle for their eight children. "Organic farming is one of the ways to do it," said Joan, who comes from a long line of Iowa farmers. "I'm into health, and I want to live a good, clean life."

Integrity Produce, P.O. Box 622, Valley Center, CA. 92082. Organic lemon grower for Santa Cruz Natural juices, R.W. Knudsen and Sons, Inc., P.O. Box 369 Chico, CA. 95927; 891-1517. Available at Boney's Market in Vista and Escondido.

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