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Who was the first person to discover juice?

Juice is a popular beverage enjoyed around the world today. But have you ever wondered where juice originally came from and who first discovered how to extract the delicious liquid from fruits and vegetables? Let’s take a look back through history to uncover the origins of juice.

The Early History of Juice Extraction

The squeezing of juice from fruits predates recorded history. Early humans likely first consumed juice by biting into succulent fruits and vegetables and swallowing the flavorful juices. Over time, methods were developed to separate the liquid from the solid fruit flesh more efficiently.

One of the earliest juice extraction tools was likely the mortar and pestle. Archaeological evidence shows that primitive mortar and pestle sets made from stone existed as early as 35,000 years ago during the Paleolithic era. People would have placed fruits in these stone bowls and crushed them with the pestle to release the juice.

The first sieves made from reeds, horsehair, or woven fabrics helped separate the liquid from the crushed pulp more effectively. Some early juicing methods also involved wrapping fruits in cloth and using pressure or twisting to squeeze out the juice.

Juice in Ancient History

Clear references to juice drinking first appeared around 3000 BC in ancient Egyptian writings. Papyrus scrolls and clay jar labels describe offerings of fig, date, pomegranate, and carob fruit juices used for religious ceremonies and to treat illnesses.

In ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, grapes were one of the main fruits used for juice. Wild grapevines produced small, tart grapes perfect for processing into syrups, wines, and juice drinks. Date palm fruits were also common juice sources.

By 1500 BC, fruits high in pectin like apples and pomegranates were mixed with other juice to create thick, syrupy beverages. The use of honey or dates to sweeten juices also emerged during this era.

In ancient India, mango, coconut, lime, and citron juices were commonly consumed drinks. Extracting juice from the coconut in particular was an elaborate process involving piercing the coconut shell and then placing hot stones onto the white coconut meat to liquefy the oils into liquid.

Juice in Ancient Greece and Rome

In ancient Greek and Roman societies, fruit juices took on more importance medically and culturally.

Greek physician and botanist Pedanius Dioscorides compiled an influential medical text in the 1st century AD known as De Materia Medica describing the medicinal properties of over 500 plants. Juices from fruits like grapes, figs, and pomegranates and vegetables like cabbage, beets, and onions were highlighted for their health effects.

Date palm juice was also consumed but was described by Galen, another influential Greek physician, as being inferior medicinally to other fruit juices like fig or apple juice which were used to treat fever, stomach ailments, and other illnesses.

In ancient Rome, fruit juices were popular beverages, especially grape, pomegranate, apple and pear juice. The Romans improved juice extraction methods using larger mortars and pestles carved from stone or wood. They also developed pressing tools like the torculum, a beam press used to crush grapes more efficiently.

Juices were regularly consumed as part of meals and incorporated into early recipes. In the ancient Roman cookbook Apicius, instructions included adding juices from grapes, pomegranates, plums, mulberries, dates, apples, pears, and chickpeas to sauces and dishes.

Juice in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, fruit juices remained important for their perceived therapeutic properties. Apple juice in particular was prized as a health tonic, described by Saint Hildegard of Bingen, a medieval herbalist, as beneficial for connecting the body and the soul. Pomegranate, grape, cherry, and pear juice were also drunk regularly.

Medical scholars established dedicated juice shops known as roburatories to supply patients with fresh juices to aid healing and recovery. Doctors would even send patients lists of juices to obtain based on their medical needs.

Monks and other religious orders grew extensive orchards to produce fruits used specifically for juicing. Monasteries also hosted pilgrims who would drink the juice as part of their spiritual rituals.

Technical advances like stronger pressing devices and finer filtration methods increased juice purity and potency. Distillation techniques were used to create concentrated syrups from juice, leading to the origins of early sodas and soft drinks.

Juice in the Colonial Era

As European empires expanded and colonized new territories starting in the 16th century, fruits and juice drinking customs spread around the world.

Spanish colonists introduced juicing techniques involving olive and sugarcane presses to extract juice from citrus fruits, grapes, and pomegranates as they settled in South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. This helped expand juice production from Old World fruits.

In North American colonies, Native American juicing methods were adopted using stone mortars and pressed textiles to produce juices from fruits like cranberries, blueberries, currants, and crabapples. Apple cider was especially popular, helping apple juice gain wider prominence.

Settlers in tropical colonies like those established by the Dutch and Portuguese in Africa, India, and Asia gained access to exotic juices from fruits like mangoes, guavas, and lychees rarely seen in Europe. Colonial-era cookbooks borrowed heavily from local juice traditions.

Juice remained an integral part of early transoceanic trade. Barrels of juice from fruits like lemons helped provide vitamins and combat scurvy on long sea voyages. The growing global juice exchange spurred new innovations in juice processing and preservation.

The Rise of Commercial Juicing

By the 19th century, juice was well established as a popular health drink, especially in Europe and America. Pharmacies and sanitariums offered fresh pressed juices as therapy.

With industrialization, juice production became more efficient. Equipment was invented specifically for juicing like large-scale hydraulic presses and steam-powered rotary juice extractors. These helped launch commercial juice production.

Bottling technology also improved to help preserve juices. Louis Pasteur’s breakthroughs in understanding food spoilage led to pasteurization processes applied to juices to allow longer storage. Artificial refrigeration then enabled chilled juices year-round.

Orchards sprung up to harvest fruits destined solely for juicing, especially apples and oranges. Orange juice was particularly promoted for its vitamin C and became a breakfast staple. Vegetable juices like tomato, beet, carrot and celery juice grew in popularity as research uncovered their nutritional benefits.

Ready-to-drink store-bought juices proliferated, displacing homemade juices. Brands like Welch’s, Ocean Spray, and Tropicana became juice giants, now producing billions of gallons annually.

New machines like microwavable juice bags, electric citrus juicers for home use, and commercial juice bar presses helped widen access and customization of juices globally.

Notable Dates in Juice History

Here are some key dates marking milestones in the history of juice:

Year Juice Milestone
35,000 BC Earliest evidence of mortar and pestle use for juice extraction
3000 BC First written records of juice drinking from ancient Egypt
1500 BC Mixing juices with honey and dates as sweeteners
1st Century AD Greek and Roman advances in pressing technology
1000s AD Monasteries establish extensive orchards for juicing
1493 Columbus brings oranges and lemons to the Caribbean
19th Century Commercial juicing takes off with industrialization
1858 First use of hydraulic press for large-scale juice production
1869 Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch markets the first pasteurized grape juice
1948 Orange juice concentrate first shipped frozen overseas
1980s Juice bars and fresh, cold-pressed juices gain popularity


Juice has clearly come a long way since prehistoric times! What began as biting into fruits evolved into a complex process of pressing, filtering, preserving and bottling juices from all sorts of produce. Along the way, juice became more than just a beverage – it was seen as a health tonic, the focus of medical therapies, a spiritual aid, and the driver of global trade.

Today juice remains a daily part of many diets thanks to thousands of years of juicing experience. Theflavors we love from fresh oranges, apples, carrots and other produce are a testament to the early innovators who discovered how to extract nature’s liquid bounty. So next time you grab a glass of juice, toast to the ancient origins of this refreshing drink!