Drop Your Muddler: Here's How and Why To Clarify Your Fruit Juice

By Crystal Sykes |
FWX PARTNER LIQUOR MUDDLE YOUR JUICE

Courtesy of Liquor.com

This piece originally appeared on Liquor.com.

Juice is king when it comes to refreshing cocktails.

Brown Derby wouldn’t be drinkable without grapefruit juice, a Whiskey Sour would be a mess without some fresh lemon juice and a Margarita isn’t a Margarita without lime.

However, not all fruit juices are created equal. Some are thicker than others and almost all fruit juices when squeezed or processed leave a murky, milky coloring and leftover particles in your drink. I lovestrawberries. But muddling them in my cocktails turns my drink into slurpy sludge. I drink them anyway but always while thinking, “There has to be another way.”

There is: clarification. If you don’t like eating your cocktail, you can remove unwanted particles for a clear—though not colorless—juice that will transform the texture of your drinks.

There are multiple ways to clarify your fruit juices and most—if not all—are described in Dave Arnold’s boozy-science manifesto, Liquid Intelligence. Here, you’re going to learn how to clarify using agar, a seaweed-based gelling agent. The process takes only about an hour of your time.

Why bother to clarify? Arnold not only describes his preference for crystal-clear liquids but he also mentions how much they improve carbonated drinks. “Particles floating around in your drink provide access for errant bubbles to form,” he says. “Those errant bubble-making particles will wreak havoc in your drink and reduce the level of carbonation you can achieve.” Arnold then went down a rabbit hole of making the best lime juice for the ultimate Gin & Tonic. On behalf of all carbonated drink lovers out there, thanks, Dave.

CLARIFIED LIME JUICE

What you’ll need:

  • Juice of 8 Limes (about 279 ml or 10 oz)
  • Water
  • Agar Powder
  • Instant-read thermometer
  • Ice-water bath
  • Cheesecloth

Before beginning, make sure your freshly squeezed lime juice is strained of any pulp and at room temperature.

Measure out your lime juice. For every 750 ml of lime juice, measure 250 ml of water and place it aside. If you’re not using that much lime juice, use a third as much water as lime juice.

Weigh out two percent of agar of the total liquid you’re going to clarify (meaning lime juice and water. In the example above, that would be a total of 1000 ml, or 1 liter). Since I had 279 ml of lime juice and 93 ml of water, I weighed out 7.44 grams of agar.

Using a whisk, add the agar to the small batch of water you set aside (do not add the lime juice). When the powder has been fully dispersed, bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly as it comes to boil. Once the mixture has been boiling for about five minutes, turn off the heat and cover the pot to prevent boiling off too much liquid.

Immediately whisk the lime juice into the agar mixture (not the other way around). Once you’ve added all the lime juice to the agar mixture, the entire batch should be around 35ºC (95ºF). Pour the entire batch into a bowl and place the bowl in an ice bath. Set the mixture aside to allow it to set into a gel. Once the mixture looks like a loose gel (or cottage cheese), the mixture is set.

Gently break the gel up with your whisk. After the gel starts to resemble broken curds, pour your mixture into a cheesecloth and very gently squeeze the gel to extract the liquid into a container.

You’re done! Use this juice in any carbonated cocktail that needs lime juice. Perhaps a Gin & Tonic or maybe this rendition of the Mojito?

CLARIFIED STRAWBERRY JUICE

What you’ll need:

  • 32 oz Strawberries (will result in about 225 ml or 8 oz of strawberry puree)
  • Blender
  • Water
  • Agar Powder
  • Instant read thermometer
  • Ice-water bath
  • Cheesecloth

Cut your strawberries in half and puree them in a blender. Using a cheesecloth, strain the pulp to remove any seeds from the puree.

Measure out your puree. The measurements for the lime juice above still hold true here (for every 750 ml of puree, measure out 250 ml of water and place it aside.)

Weigh out two percent of agar of the total liquid you’re going to clarify. I weighed out six grams for the 300 ml combined total puree and water.

Using a whisk, add the agar to the small batch of water you set aside (do not add the puree). When the powder has been fully dispersed, bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly as it comes to boil. Once the mixture has been boiling for about five minutes, turn off the heat and cover the pot to prevent boiling off too much liquid.

Immediately whisk the puree into the agar mixture (not the other way around). Once you’ve added all the puree to the agar mixture, the entire batch should be around 35ºC (95ºF). Pour the entire batch into a bowl and place the bowl in an ice bath. Set the mixture aside to allow it to set into a gel. Once the mixture looks like a loose gel (or cottage cheese), the mixture is set.

Gently break the gel up with your whisk. After the gel starts to resemble broken curds, pour your mixture into a cheesecloth and very gently squeeze the gel to extract the liquid into a container.

That’s it. Adding an ounce in an Aperol Spritz is dangerously delicious.

Related: Make/Do: The Miracle Method for Getting The Most Out of Your Citrus 
Expert Advice About Which Mixers You Should Never Use 
Revolutionary Bar Hacks You Need to Know Right Now 

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