Building the Foundation for Better Health
Not to be confused with “bricks” that you use to build sturdy structures, Brix is the measurement of sugar (nutrition) in fruits and vegetables. It uses simple science to separate powerhouse fruits and vegetables from the under-performers. You do not need to don a lab coat or invest in expensive lab equipment to do your own brix testing at home, all you need is a simple tool and a passion for healthy food!
What Exactly is Brix Testing?
Brix testing originated in the brewing and wine industries in the early 19th century, spread to farming and agricultural, and more recently has gained popularity in the organic home gardening world. Brix testing uses a refractometer that measures the total sugar content, which are in the form of dissolved solids in the juice of fruits and vegetables. The more solids present in a sampling of juice, the higher the brix number reading on the refractometer scale. These sugars are what hold the nutrients in our foods and drinks. A higher brix reading translates to produce that is superior in quality and taste, kind of like luxury car shopping in the fruits and vegetables world.
How Do I Brix Test My Fruits and Vegetables?
Whether you are planning to test the bounty from your own garden or the produce you purchase from your favorite grocery store or farmers market, you will need a refractometer and perhaps a mortar and pestle to obtain an accurate reading.
There are two basic types of refractometers available for farmers, gardeners, and consumers who just want to do a quick check of their produce for quality; the optical or digital refractometer. The third type is more complex and is better suited for a professional lab setting.
An optical refractometer is a manual device in which you place a droplet or two of juice onto the prism and close the lid (just like making a microscope slide) and read the scale measurement using the eyepiece. With a digital refractometer, you would simply drop juice into the reservoir, and wait for the digital reading to display on the screen. Brix charts are available so you can compare your results to the numbers on the chart that will show poor, average, good, and excellent quality.
Why Should I Care About the Brix Measurement of My Fruits and Vegetables?
So you can make informed food choices! A vegetable is not just a vegetable and a piece of fruit is not just a piece of fruit when it comes to its nutritional value. Even when you make the switch to organic fruits and vegetables, quality can vary greatly depending on the condition of the soil and fertilizers used in growing the produce. And Brix is how you can tell them apart! Since one of the most important reasons to eat fresh fruits and vegetables is to get the most nutrition from them, why not be an informed consumer?
High brix fruits and vegetables have a greater presence of sugars in the juice and since the sugars contain the nutrients, that means more vitamins and minerals to promote health and wellness. We call it high nutrient density. So what you really want to have in your diet is juice with density! The solids provide you with more nutrition and an abundance of flavor. Watery juice is what you want to avoid, and is what is found in the vast majority of commercially grown produce and produce grown in poor soil. Watery juice lacks the sugars or nutritional density; which is why it tastes bland, lacks sweetness, and is not as fragrant in comparison to high brix foods.
Knowing the brix measurement of your fruits and vegetables allows you to make healthy food choices even healthier. And it is fun and easy to do. The higher your brix measurement, the higher the nutrients your produce will contain. Yes, you may pay a little more for your fruits and vegetables, but your body will thank you.
How Do I Raise the Brix Level in My Garden?
…it all starts with the soil.
The brix level of all fruits and vegetables is directly related to the overall health of the soil where they were grown. With a little TLC, you can improve the health of your soil so it produces fruits and vegetables nutritionally superior to their store-bought cousins.
Plants absorb minerals from within the soil and create their own vitamins. These vitamins and minerals provide for plant growth and fruit production. The more organic minerals available in the soil, the more vitamins and minerals the vegetables and fruit will contain as a result. For more information on improving the health of your soil, check out our articles: The Benefits of Healthy Soil and The Soil Food Web. To learn more about high nutritional density and using a brix meter, see the downloadable pdf from our High Nutritional Density Talk. You can also check out our amazing Organic Fertilizers and Soil Amendments.
There’s More to Eating Healthy than Just Adding More Veggies and Fruits
Eating healthy is about more than just incorporating an abundance of fruits and vegetables into your diet, it is about eating foods that provide your body with illness fighting and energy boosting nutrition. If you have ever wondered about the quality of produce you purchase from your favorite grocery store or grow in your garden, invest in an inexpensive refractometer and put it to the test! It’s fun, enlightening, and will save you disappointment and money in the long run.