When my digestion got bad last year, like real bad, at the nadir of my eliminatory existence, when I couldn’t poop for three–four days, I decided to cut at once from my approved foods list — diet — any foods and food products that could pose even remote challenge to digest. Namely, that meant starches were off the board because of the endotoxin thing, and also spices and additives — like ascorbic acid, citric acid, natural and artificial flavors — words on labels I was purposefully ignoring on prepackaged goods, like applesauce and salsa, to maintain a tattered thread of sanity about my dietary intake — I eliminated these in caution of potential inflammatory responses to them. Variable overload. I realize this may sound extreme but I viewed my condition as such.
So, because I committed to this change which involved not eating a bunch of foods I was previously eating, and there was a nutritional deficit to supersede, I combed tediously through every single Ray Peat clip for ideas consumable, specifically those pro-digestive, and one curious substance disclosed with reserved enthusiasm™ by Ray on several occasions is potato juice. Cooked potato juice, to be specific. When Ray mentions something in a positive light, it’s often worthwhile to investigate oneself.
Why potato juice cooked? My understandings are elementary and rudimentary — *Bio III drop-outs bump heads* — but the thought is that cooked potato juice is uniquely rich in amino acids and keto acids. Naturally-occurring ammonia in the body transaminates the keto acids into even more amino acids as needed; in total ergo there are many aminos. 🎉
What is special about amino acids? Well, (dons rainbow-colored propellor beanie and pocket protector), amino acids are the “building blocks” of proteins and dietary proteins must be digested — scientific term: degraded — into amino acids before they can be utilized by the body for its muscles and tissues and whatnot. So some correlation can be made between amino acids equaling proteins.
The amino acid composition of a potato, in actuality, when accounting for transamination, is rich — on the level of egg yolk — and the bioavailability of its nutrients — which includes vitamins and minerals too — is high when the potato is prepared tactically.
And why not just bite into a raw potato? Okay — to be honest I’ve not looked deeply into this matter but from what I understand, raw potatoes contain toxic leave-me-alone!-type chemical compounds — because they would rather not be exhumed and eaten, like most plants — however those chemicals can be to some extent deactivated by heat, though possibly not by a lot, but still, and of course there is the starch, which, even when cooked, can be troublesome for individuals’ GI tracts to process; I imagine the raw starch has got to be worse on the gut. Plus who in their right mind wants to chew through a mound of raw potatoes??
All this is to say cooked potato juice is an easy-to-consume, easy-to-digest concentrate high in vitamins, minerals, and protein. The nutrition of X pounds of potatoes is condensed into a much more approachable volume of broth.
But what does it do?? Why expatiate at such depth?
The reason I’ve felt so inclined to scribble a word or three on the esoteric matter of potato juice is that I’ve found it to be an incredible skin rejuvenator. Like, unbelievably effective, for me, at least. The first time I didn’t totally botch cooking the juice, it hit me with this reverberant bliss, not so dissimilarly from a first drunk or first high, and I thought to myself, “This does something.” (Most foods/supplements/damn-sure-to-improve-your-health-products don’t do anything. Efficaciousness is rare.) I knew I needed to try it again.
My face, in particular, just feels tight after consuming the juice. It provides this near-instantaneous facelift. I look younger. And I feel virile, too; the areas of the body with the thinnest epidermal layer more noticeably exude ephebic elasticity; along with the face that includes the genitalia. I’m a whole new me. And this happens with rather resigned predictability too.
The effect is analogous to a receding hairline returning, or thinning hair thickening. That’s how strongly I feel about it.
Has the juice improved my digestion? No, I cannot substantiate that notion. On the contrary, it acts upon me as a laxative at times, which I will admit is a relief when my bowels are not moving though obviously not optimal; however, the epidermal revivification I perceive as a stupendously positive aftereffect and I look very much forward to cooking up a batch of the juice at least once, usually twice, sometimes thrice, per week.
And because I found few resources that explained the preparation process in detail, which is not as straightforward as it may seem and is easy to mess up, I thought I’d share my current, somewhat refined technique among interested readers. With that introduction over and clever homograph in tow, let’s cook. 👨🏻🍳
- Potatoes (~8 lbs unpeeled weight) (large size)
- Salt (a few pinches) (preferably Morton C&P)
Prep time: ~30 minutes — Cook time: ~1 hour
A comprehensive link list of kitchen tools is located below. ↓
Step 1: Choose Potatoes
Larger potatoes are more efficiently manipulated and thus take less time than smaller potatoes to peel and cut. I’ve bought smaller potatoes for, like, science and regretted it every time. Feel free to experiment but I think you’ll soon side with the inanity that bigger is better.
I don’t think the variety of potato matters much — e.g., waxy v. starchy — because the starch will be almost entirely removed in the end product and nutritional data suggests homogeneity between species, but waxy potatoes tend to be smaller and thus less wieldy so you’ll by default spring for all-purpose/Idaho/starchy/floury varieties. Sweet potatoes are different critters altogether; I am unfamiliar with them and would hesitate to recommend you juice up a batch.
Walmart sells 8-lb bags of jumbo Russets for $4.52 currently. That is 57¢/pound. Cheap! They work though I’d not eat them in an un(highly)processed state. They’re often green and/or carry an astringent smell raw. Mutants be damned.
Organic potatoes I’ve found rare to come by — my local Whole Foods doesn’t even carry them right now; they are a seasonal item — and at a reasonable price point, if they are to be found. Suggestion: Pick out the best-looking and -smelling conventionals available in your area.
Step 2: Peel Potatoes
This isn’t necessary, per se, but I do it. And I think you should too. I often come across bruises and other abnormalities underneath the skin that I’d rather not make their way into my juice. The skin itself is suspect for containing toxins and pesticides if not “certified organic.” You may as well be thorough when investing the time here.
I peel each potato, give it a quick rinse to remove any crud, then set it aside in my 5-qt stainless steel bowl. Once the bowl is mostly filled, I know I’ve got a good amount to juice and that will not boil over in my 3-qt saucepan.
Step 3: Cut Potatoes
If using a juicer, cut into whatever girth length-wise strips that will fit down the chute. I don’t own a juicer but I imagine yay size is sensible:
If using a blender, cut into small chunks like this:
And drop them into your blender carafe with an inch or two of water:
Step 4: Extract Juice
If using a juicer, you should know what to do.
If using a blender, you will blend to a smooth consistency and then extract the juice from the resulting potato smoothie in some fashion. I came up with a low-tech man-powered pressing rig using an LSHP filter cloth and three S.S. bowls:
I push hard against the wall, squeezing the two bowls together, compacting the mash, and juice oozes down into the third bowl. Yield seems okay. It is a laborious procedure though. For the non-neanderthalic: a hydraulic press will extract more juice with less effort (the JP Factory juice press is what I am eyeing up currently; please do further my shallow insight into this area).
Step 5: Triple-Filter Juice
I will at this point wash my blender carafe and filtering equipment to give the starch in the juice a moment to settle, then:
- Pour the juice through the sieve into the saucepan,
- Pour the juice back through the sieve into the S.S. bowl, and
- Again pour the juice through the sieve into the saucepan.
Wash the empty apparatuses out/off after each step and — importantly! — discard the wispy bubbly gunk down the sink.
The reason to remove the overt starch now is that if cooked, the starch will gelatinize, stick to the bottom of the pan, and burn. Not good.
Step 6: Low Simmer for ~1 Hour
The objective here is to bring the juice to a low simmer so it will cook and reduce but not allow it boil over. The juice will want to boil over. It undergoes some kind of compositional change and will volumetrically proliferate with rabid abandon under too-high heat, which high heat is a relatively low heat.
Through trial and error I’ve determined where to tune the dial on my electric stove so that an eventual simmer will be reached without overflow. Your stove will probably be different and I’m mad jealous if you’ve got gas. (Electric blows.) Keep a close eye on the liquid the first few times you temper it until you’ve got a gauge on its ebullience.
I cook without a lid because of the aforementioned boiling-over issue and I want juice to reduce. And about the “simmer”: it’s more of an active current you’re looking for. The liquid won’t bubble unless the heat is turned way up.
Now, I don’t know if ~1-hours cooking time is optimal. That’s simply a measure I bumped into on the web and the juice — by the end, a broth more like — tends to turn out better when I let it go for an hour-plus. Perhaps this is a matter of concentration and taste. Or maybe a higher percentage of toxins fall to the heat the longer it goes. I lack certainty. All I know is that the boiling-over effect seems to cease at around one half of one hour.
Salt can be added during this process but exercise restraint; it’s easy to over-salt the solution because it will reduce in volume by, like, half. It’s probably more prudent to salt afterward.
Finally, a double-boiler can be used, I guess? That approach is mentioned briefly in this interview @ ~41:48. I haven’t tried cooking the juice that way myself for lack of proper equipment and reasoning why a runny liquid warrants double-boiling.
Update! — I cobbled together a makeshift double-boiler last night and the result was … pretty similar! Major difference: The precipitate didn’t coalesce as thoroughly so not as much could be filtered out; however, the precipitate didn’t taste as bad. It was tolerable. So if that part — still unidentified — is to be consumed, then double-boiling makes sense. The broth tasted more watery as opposed to burnt, I suppose. It wasn’t as strong as it is from single-boiling.
Step 7: Filter into Stainless Steel Bowl
Pour the hot broth through the fine-mesh sieve and into the stainless steel bowl and sprinkle some salt in if you would like. More sediment precipitates during cooking, and it’s pretty gross-looking (and -tasting) so we want to remove it, though the mesh of the sieve is not fine enough to filter it all out. You can allow the particles to settle in the bowl and then decant to separate them. I’ve tried using a coffee filter to achieve this end but found the process to be terribly inefficient.
I find the stainless steel bowl critical because its low heat capacity allows the juice to cool to consumable temperature relatively quickly. Broth poured straight into a glass Mason jar, for example, will stay tongue-scorchingly hot for what seems like forever.
Step 8: Enjoy!
The end result is a potatoey broth very rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein. The nutrition from however many pounds of potatoes went into this. It’s potent stuff. I am very content sipping it as is like a soup. I find the flavor fine. I suppose you could add fresh herbs or well-cooked mushrooms or whatever you fancy to jazz it up.
Readers! — What are your experiences with potato juice? Have any of the steps been unclear? Do you suggest any improvements to this recipe? I am but one person sharing his thoughts and perceptions. Collaborate with me!
In particular, I am curious whether the broth will refrigerate or freeze well; I always sluuuurp it down immediately.
Update! — I’ve now both refrigerated the broth (for one and two days) and frozen it (for one day). The frozen broth tasted way fresher. So I recommend freezing if not consuming it all immediately!
Also, hydraulic juice press aficionados: Help! What model is best?
- Potato Peeler: Kuhn Rikon
- Stainless Steel Bowls: Vollrath 47935
- Blender: Vitamix 5200 — though I imagine pretty much any blender will be able to adequately atomize potatoes.
- Juice Press Cloth: PURE LSHP
- Two stainless steel bowls can serve as a makeshift hydraulic press in combination with the cloths if you’re physically capable and have the proper wall/countertop space. Most readers — and even I — will want to look into hydraulic presses (maybe the Welles or JP Factory) if going this non-juicer route. Norwalk and PURE are expensive all-in-one options.
- Juicer: I had been window-shopping the Omega VSJ843 and Tribest Slowstar before settling to use my already-owned Vitamix. Those models seemed to be the easiest to operate and clean and would yield a fair yield. The ease of operation and sanitization are heavy considerations, in my mind at least. Juicers can be a bitch to operate and maintain. The blender + hydraulic press combo will produce the highest yield, if that’s what you’re after.
- Fine-Mesh Sieve: Rosle 7.9-Inch Fine-Mesh Kitchen Stainless Steel Strainer
- Saucepan: Cuisinart MCP193-18N
- While this saucepan is adequate, clad construction is inappropriate and overkill for application here. Disc-bottom would be preferable. The Demeyere Atlantis 3.2-quart is on my if-I-win-the-lottery-or-am-somehow-otherwise-bequeathed-with-a-fortuitous-financial-windfall list. Any old stock pot would work fine, too.