A new Vernon company is all juiced up on value-added agriculture.
Mobile Juicing, owned by Kristen Trovato, has been making the rounds to Okanagan orchards – from Salmon Arm down to Osoyoos – offering its services to press excess or unsalable hard fruits and vegetables into juice.
“I fell in love with the idea and just ran with it,” said Trovato, 31. “I saw the potential for this in the Okanagan.”
Hauling a hydraulic press housed in a trailer, Trovato is able to go right to the orchard to squeeze juice out of the fibrous fruits (namely apples), through layered mats and special latticed wood slats and into a holding tank.
After that, the juice is flash pasteurized, which eliminates bacteria while retaining much of its natural flavour and nutritional value. The juice is then packaged using a bag-in-box system (similar to boxed wine) that adds to the shelf life.
Unopened, a box of juice will remain fresh for up to a year, and for three months once opened, with or without refrigeration.
Trovato notes Mobile Juicing is organic certified.
For the process to be viable, Trovato requires a minimum of eight bins (6,400 pounds) of fruit for a pressing session. She says growers with smaller volumes can get together to host a juicing day, which she adds can be a lot of fun.
In her first year of business, Trovato has become aware of the struggles orchardists face. Low prices, increased production costs and heavy competition from imported produce have made it difficult to make a living as a grower. She believes Mobile Juicing could help them recoup some costs.
“We hope that by providing an alternative, value-added product for growers, we can also provide a small growth to their income,” she said.
For varieties that don’t store well, or aren’t as desirable on the fresh fruit market – Trovato named MacIntosh, empire and ambrosia – juicing might be an ideal alternative.
“They’re (growers) juicing varieties that aren’t necessarily culled apples…they’re just varieties the packing house just doesn’t take anymore, or they’re getting such a low price per pound,” she said.
“They’re amazing delicious apples, they just aren’t suitable for fresh. Maybe they’re too sensitive, they bruise easily. This is one way to preserve some of those apples.”
Trovato plans to wind down the operation when the snow starts to pile up. Until then, she is going mobile.
“During harvest season, through October, we were really busy,” she said. “That is when apples are best for juicing; the fresher they are, the better the juice is going to be.”
For growers with no farm market or fruit stand, Mobile Juicing can help get their product on the shelf.
“We currently have established relationships with grocers throughout the valley and continue to build more,” said Trovato.