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Grapefruit Juice

Published August 2014

How we tested

To find out which grapefruit juice is best, we rounded up five nationally available products and poured glasses for 21 America’s Test Kitchen staffers. Right away, tasters zeroed in on texture and rated two juices low for being thin and watery. Even though both juices are sold ready to drink, they’re made from reconstituted concentrate, which tasters perceived as watered-down and diluted. Tasters ranked not-from-concentrate juices higher for their fuller body and fresher tang.

When it came to flavor, there were drastic differences even though four out of five products contain just one ingredient: grapefruit juice (the fifth adds juice concentrates from other fruits). Why? Grapefruits come in a range of varieties, each with its own distinct taste and color. So we asked each manufacturer what variety of grapefruit it uses to make its juice.

One overly tart product is made with all white grapefruits, and many tasters found it too “pithy” and “harsh.” At the other end of the spectrum, another product was too sweet; it’s made with pink and Ruby Red grapefruits but also concentrates from sweeter fruits like grapes and apples. The result was a product closer to “fruit punch” than to grapefruit juice. Tasters found it “candy-like” and “syrupy”—far too sweet.

While a few companies wouldn’t disclose what kind of grapefruit they use, the manufacturer of our favorite juice told us that it uses a mix of citrusy pink grapefruits and sweet Ruby Reds; the result is a juice that is “balanced” and “drinkable,” sweet but not cloyingly so, and bitter but not astringent.

We also got a read on sweetness from nutrition labels; since no manufacturer adds sweeteners, all sugars came from fruit. Our top products contain between 20 and 25 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving. Juices with sugar levels outside that range were either too bitter or too sweet for our tasters. At 22 grams of sugar per serving, our top pick fell solidly in the middle with a nicely balanced sweetness.

We were able to recommend three of the five juices and tasters agreed that one was outstanding. Our winner took top honors for its “balanced,” “refreshing” blend of pink and Ruby Red grapefruits and its “fresh-squeezed” taste. In fact, our winner's processing methods are about as close to fresh-squeezed as possible: The company squeezes its grapefruits—all grown locally near its facility in Florida—within 24 hours of receiving each order. The maker of our winning grapefruit juice also manufactures our winning orange juice and lemonade.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Skippy Peanut Butter

In a contest that hinged on texture, tasters thought this "smooth, "creamy" sample was "swell" and gave it top honors, both plain and baked into cookies. Its rave reviews even compensated for a slightly "weak" nut flavor that didn't come through as well as that of other brands in the pungent satay sauce.

$2.39 for 16.3-oz. jar (15 cents per oz.)*
Recommended

Jif Natural Peanut Butter Spread

The big favorite in satay sauce, this peanut butter's "dark, roasted flavor"—helped by the addition of molasses—stood out particularly well against the other heady ingredients, and it made cookies with "nice sweet-salty balance." Plus, as the top-rated palm oil-based sample, it was "creamy," "thick," and better emulsified than other "natural" contenders.

$2.29 for 18-oz. jar (13 cents per oz.)*

Reese's Peanut Butter

This is what peanut butter should be like, " declared one happy taster, noting specifically this product's "good," "thick" texture and "powerful peanut flavor." In satay sauce, however, some tasters felt that heavier body made for a "pasty" end result.

$2.59 for 18-oz. jar (14 cents per oz.)*

Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread

The only other palm oil-based peanut butter to make the "recommended" cut, this contender had a "looser" texture than its winning sibling but still won fans for being "super-smooth." Tasters thought it made an especially "well-balanced," "complex" peanut sauce.

$2.39 for 15-oz. jar (16 cents per oz.)*
Recommended with Reservations

Peanut Butter & Co. No-Stir Natural Smooth Operator

Though it says "no-stir" on the label, this "stiff" palm-oil enriched peanut butter was "weeping oil" and came across as "greasy" to some tasters. However, it turned out a respectable batch of cookies—"chewy in the center, crisp and short at the edge"—and made "perfectly good" satay sauce.

$4.49 for 18-oz. jar (25 cents per oz.)*

Maranatha Organic No Stir Peanut Butter

On the one hand, this organic peanut butter produced cookies that were "soft and sturdy" yet "moist," with "knockout peanut flavor." On the other hand, eating it straight from the jar was nearly impossible; its "loose," "liquid-y," and "dribbly" consistency had one taster wonder if it was "peanut soup."

$5.69 for 16-oz. jar (36 cents per oz.)*
Not Recommended

Smart Balance All Natural Rich Roast Peanut Butter

Besides being unpalatably "tacky" and "sludgy," this "natural" peanut butter suffered from an awful "fishy" flavor with a "weird acidic aftertaste" that tasters noted in all three applications. Our best guess as to the culprit? The inclusion of flax seed oil, an unsaturated fat that's highly susceptible to rancidity.

$3.59 for 16-oz. jar (22 cents per oz.)*

Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter

With its only additive a negligible amount of salt, the only truly natural peanut butter in the lineup elicited comments ranging from mild dissatisfaction ("needs enhancement with salt and sugar") to outright disgust ("slithery," "chalky," "inedible"). Cookies were "dry and crumbly" with a "hockey puck" texture, and the satay sauce was "stiff," "gritty," and "gloopy."

$2.69 for 16-oz. jar (17 cents per oz.)*