Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate

Published April 1, 2013. From Cook's Country.

We’d long written off frozen concentrated orange juice as a relic from the 1950s and were shocked to find that we actually liked two of the products.

Overview:

Frozen concentrated orange juice is easy to carry home, lasts up to two years in the freezer, is cheaper than refrigerated juice, and takes up little space until you reconstitute it. But we’d long written it off as a relic from the 1950s, when convenience often trumped freshness. To test our assumption, we bought three nationally available products, added water according to directions, and held a blind taste test. We were shocked to find that we actually liked two of the products.

It turns out that frozen and refrigerated juice are more similar than we knew: All commercial orange juice is extracted mechanically and strained of pulp to varying degrees. Refrigerated orange juice is then pasteurized. Juice destined to be frozen concentrate goes to an evaporation chamber, where heat removes the water; the concentrate is then frozen. Both types of orange juice may be enhanced with oils extracted from peels, and both are tested for Brix (sweetness) and acidity and then blended to suit brand specifications. So we tasted our favorite… read more

Frozen concentrated orange juice is easy to carry home, lasts up to two years in the freezer, is cheaper than refrigerated juice, and takes up little space until you reconstitute it. But we’d long written it off as a relic from the 1950s, when convenience often trumped freshness. To test our assumption, we bought three nationally available products, added water according to directions, and held a blind taste test. We were shocked to find that we actually liked two of the products.

It turns out that frozen and refrigerated juice are more similar than we knew: All commercial orange juice is extracted mechanically and strained of pulp to varying degrees. Refrigerated orange juice is then pasteurized. Juice destined to be frozen concentrate goes to an evaporation chamber, where heat removes the water; the concentrate is then frozen. Both types of orange juice may be enhanced with oils extracted from peels, and both are tested for Brix (sweetness) and acidity and then blended to suit brand specifications. So we tasted our favorite frozen concentrate again, this time alongside our winning refrigerated orange juice. The refrigerated brand barely eked out a win, and we were shocked all over again.

So what of the lousy frozen orange juice that many of us remember from childhood? These days, the evaporation process goes much faster than in the past, minimizing off flavors, according to Kristen Gunter, executive director of the Florida Citrus Processors Association. She added that most frozen concentrate now includes pulp for a more natural texture. From now on, we’ll stock our freezer with our winning frozen concentrated orange juice—and never be caught without OJ again.

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  • Product Tested

    Price*

  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Recommended - Winner

    Minute Maid Original Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice

    This “bright” juice was “slightly floral” and “orangey upfront.” “Just the right amount of sugar and acid,” said one taster; “easy to drink,” said another. With “minimal” pulp yet an appealing “full-bodied” texture, it was the one in our lineup “most like fresh squeezed.”

    $2.50 for 12 oz (5 cents per reconstituted oz)

  • Recommended

    Tropicana 100% Juice Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice

    This juice had a “fuller” flavor that was “lively,” “tart,” and “not too sweet”; it was more “pucker-y” than the others, “like grapefruit juice” or “orange zest.” The “small pulpy bits” made for “thicker juice” with “home-squeezed” texture.

    $1.79 for 12 oz (4 cents per reconstituted oz)

  • Not Recommended

    Cascadian Farm Organic Orange Juice Frozen Concentrate

    Tasters missed the “acid pucker” in this organic brand, which had a “very sweet start.” It was thin, with “zero pulp.” (It’s the only brand to list water as an ingredient.) It reminded one taster, unfavorably, of “Tang or SunnyD.”

    $4.39 for 12 oz (9 cents per reconstituted oz)

*PRICES SUBJECT TO CHANGE
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