Most of the juice here is sold in boxes. When I was younger we used to have boxed juice frequently--mostly apple juice, from what I recall. Later on we stopped using boxed juice and started using concentrate, the kind that comes frozen in a can. We always put 4 cans of water in with the concentrated juice, and even though the box only said to put in 3 we never questioned our mother's wisdom. At least, I never questioned my mother's wisdom, and it wasn't until I got married that I learned that not everyone put an extra can of water in with their juice. Some people actually follow the directions and only put in 3 cans. And here I thought it was some internationally understood typo on behalf of the juice company because 4 cans of water easily fit in an average-sized pitcher.
I still put extra water in our juice. It makes it last longer and juice is expensive. I totally see where my mother was coming from when she instigated the 4-can rule.
My grandmother continued to use boxed juice long after my family made the switch to concentrate. I think it might be, in part, because she had excellent food storage. She didn't eat a large variety of things so didn't have a large variety in her food storage, but she had a lot of what she did have: canned chicken, tuna fish, mayonnaise, potato pearls, bran, boxed juice.
I remember one time when we were making lunch at my grandma's house after church one day. She had stayed after for choir practice or something and my mom walked all of the kids back to her house for lunch because we were "starving." We went scavenging in her food storage for something yummy to eat. Finding an acute lack of junk food we settled on tuna fish sandwiches and brought up a can of tuna and jar of mayo to have my mother prepare for us.
Being a very organized and particular person, my grandmother had marked every item in her food storage with the year it was purchased. Unfortunately she only used the last two digits of the year. This would have been fine if we trusted that her food storage turned over quickly. With only she and my grandpa at home we were sure it didn't, however, and there was no guarantee as to whether the can of tuna fish we found was from the year 89 or the year 68.
We stared at it for a while, everyone debating about which year it was from and whether or not it was still good. This was the mid-nineties so even if the tuna was from the eighties it was still 4 or 5 years old. Unless it actually was from the sixties...
My grandma had some old stuff, so this was a real worry for us kids. If my grandma had just used all four digits for the year we could have trusted that it was 1989 because I don't think she had anyway to get tuna from the future year of 6861. As much as my grandpa was in to tinkering and welding I don't think he ever invented a time machine.
We ended up eating the tuna. Judging by the familiarity of the label we figured it was safe. And not from the sixties. No one got sick, so it was probably alright, although we didn't eat tuna fish all that often at my grandma's house.
Canned chicken, though, is another story. My grandma was the type of housewife who had trouble sitting down at the table for very long. She was always up and running to get something out of the microwave (until she stopped using it), to refill the water pitcher, or to make the meal more square. Sometimes she would notice, mid-meal, that we were missing our protein and would rush off to get a can of chicken. She'd cut it up on a plate and pass it around and we'd all have to take a piece.
I hated it. It was like spam chicken. Spickam.
But other things from her food storage was alright. My grandpa had diabetes and had regulated snack time, which rocked because usually when he got a snack, the grandkids got a snack, too. Usually this was digestive cookies but sometimes it was tapioca pudding. And not just any tapioca pudding, either, but the kind made by Jell-o that came in those little pudding cups. We rarely got those as children so that was a real treat. We never did find the stash of those in food storage, although I'm sure there was one.
There was an area of my grandma's food storage for juice, though, and we knew where that was. There was always an open box in the fridge, but it was only for breakfast. We had water for lunch, dinner, and snacks--distilled when Grandma was going through her distilled phase, and tap water when she was going through her tap phase. She kept her water in the fridge in clear plastic pitchers (that a lot of church buildings have) with the lids from margarine containers on top. They were specially cut so they would sit on the rim of the pitcher better.
Juice, however, was kept in the box in plastic carton holders, which my grandma used for both her milk and juice. They made it much easier to pour.
We could probably use one of those here. We are forever spilling juice. I'm not sure it's so much the lack of the carton holder that is the problem as it is the ingenuity of the spouts the boxing companies are putting on the cartons nowadays.
Juhaina, for example, has a 4 part system. A hole is cut on the top of the box, which is covered with foil. A spout is glued over it, which, in theory should make it easier to pour. A twisty cap closes the spout so that the juice won't spill when not in use.
To open the juice you have to twist off the cap and pull a tab, which is glued to the foil that covers the hole. Inevitably, the tab comes away from the foil before it's done any good pulling and the foil is then stuck covering the hole, so you end up digging around with your fingers in this tiny, little spout, trying to pull the foil off the hole so you can get to your juice. Sometimes this is easier said than done and requires the use of pliers or tweezers.
Once you get the foil off you have to hope, while you're pouring, that you didn't wiggle the spout loose, because if you did it will fall off and the juice, instead of pouring into your cup, will pour into your lap, or onto the table.
And that's only if you're lucky enough to not have the whole spout fall off by the time you get the carton home from the store.
Today at lunch, Andrew pulled out a carton of juice that's spout had already come unglued. He pulled it the rest of the way off and then proceeded to pull off the foil covering the hole.
"Your pour," he said.
"Oh, no." I declined, "You go right ahead. I will not be blamed for this mess."
Just before he poured, though, I remembered how we opened juice when I was little, back when boxed juice was popular, and how my grandma opened boxes of juice until the day she died.
"Stop! Get the scissors!" I instructed.
Luckily, Andrew hadn't started pouring yet or we'd have juice all over our kitchen table.
"Just lift one of the flaps on the side and cut off the corner. It makes a nice spout."
It really does. And it only took me 6 months of living in Egypt to remember that.
I love my grandma. She's got more ingenuity than any of the juice box manufacturers out here. Her juice spout never malfunctions, which I just can't say for Juhaina. And, she's a problem solver; she died when I was in high school and she's still solving my problems!