Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
How we tested
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.