Smoothies: the perfect ratio for a beloved beverage

What defines a perfect smoothie is, both literally and figuratively, a matter of taste. 

Across the five senses of taste — sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami — smoothies can land in practically every category except salty (unless you do
something very wrong). 

With so many flavors, possible ingredients and methods to smoothie creation, there is no objectively correct answer. 

However, after four years of experimentation on a grand scale, I have come to my correct answer. 

Before we actually explore the recipe itself, we must discuss some other important considerations and choices involved in smoothie creation.

The first step in creating the perfect smoothie is to decide what sort of flavor you’d like it to have. The two main flavor categories that smoothies fall into are sweet and citrusy. Other flavor profiles are possible, but are much less common and have far narrower appeal, so we will stick to these main two. 

This is where the idea of a perfect smoothie diverges drastically. 

When some people think of a good smoothie, they think of something sweet and rich, full of things like banana, strawberry, yogurt and protein powder. 

That, while a valid opinion, is not one that I share. 

I’ve always enjoyed fruits that are more tart and acidic, and that will be very clearly reflected in my recipe.

The next important consideration is whether to use fresh or frozen fruit, both of which have positives and negatives. 

On a purely taste basis, fresh fruit will win 100% of the time; however, it also comes with challenges.

Fresh fruit takes up more space in a fridge, expires pretty quickly and is generally more expensive for the quantity that you get when compared to its frozen counterpart. 

Frozen fruit, on the other hand, lacks some of the flavor and takes away a degree of freedom from the fruits that can be chosen. I will mention a frozen fruit-based smoothie recipe towards the end, but for the perfect smoothie, you must use fresh fruit.

Third, we must consider the liquid base of our smoothie. There are several common options here that can be used to different effect. 

Milk and yogurt are often used in sweeter smoothies, while orange juice, grapefruit juice and lemonade are all potential choices if you’re aiming for more of a tart flavor. 

Grapefruit is good in small quantities, but can overpower the rest of the ingredients if used in large amounts, and lemonade is a bit too sugary. I’ve found orange juice to be the best option in my testing. 

You can also use a combination of two or more (orange and cranberry juice, for instance, is a pretty great duo), but for the sake of simplicity and pure flavor, orange juice is our best bet.

Now that we have discussed these considerations, we can finally start putting together the ingredients themselves.

There are countless fruit combinations to try and I’ve tried a fair few of them. While some items can be swapped around, a few have remained pretty constant overall. A good smoothie needs good berries. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries should all ideally be added in for the best flavor combination. 

Using a pretty even amount of each berry, this should take up roughly half the solid contents of the smoothie. 

The other half should be mango, an unbeatable fruit and smoothie ingredient, and your choice of a fruit from the peach/plum family (can be part or whole depending on remaining space). 

Personally, nectarines are one of my favorite fruits and the one I’ve had the best results with. 

These ingredients by themselves would be enough to make a delicious smoothie, but there are several more things you should add for maximum effect. 

The juice of one half of a lemon and one half of a lime add some more tart flavor, and something like flax or chia seeds can give some additional health benefits without really affecting the  flavor of the drink.

The most important addition at this point, however, is ginger. 

A tiny piece of ginger will single handedly elevate a smoothie from good to great, even with subpar ingredients. At this point, your blender should be mostly full, with just enough room to add in a small amount of crushed ice. 

Fill roughly 20 or 30% with orange juice depending on how solid your fruits are (specifically the bigger ones), and blend until mixed properly. 

When the blender stops you will have created the perfect smoothie.

If fresh fruit isn’t an option, then a mix of frozen berries, frozen mango chunks and something like either frozen cherries or frozen peaches (in addition to the lemon, lime and ginger) will still create something incredible. 

A note for frozen fruit is that running it under hot water a few times will make it much easier to blend and will improve the consistency of the smoothie. 

Overall, the creation of a perfect smoothie is a journey that will be slightly different for each person who embarks upon it. 

There is a poetic beauty to it, one which may change the way you look at food itself. 

I wish you good luck, and hope that my advice may lead you to creating something truly great.