When shopping for fruit juice, you may encounter a wide variety of options. Should you pick up juice that is “not from concentrate,” a frozen container of concentrate that you mix up yourself, or a carton of juice made from concentrate? There are a few differences among the three options. Your final decision depends on you and your preferences.
The Process of Concentration
When you squeeze a fruit, such as an orange or a lemon, you release its juice. Juice sold at the grocery store is the result of many machines squeezing the liquid from fruit. Juice is turned into concentrate by subjecting it to high heat under a vacuum, according to researchers Dale M. Heien and Ray Venner, writing in the 1993 edition of “California Agriculture.” The heat causes the water to evaporate, leaving only a fruity syrup behind. The concentrate is then frozen.
Some people may be concerned that concentrate does not have the same nutritional value as juice. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database, 1 cup of unsweetened apple juice with added ascorbic acid has 114 calories, and 95.5mg of vitamin C. One cup of unsweetened apple juice with ascorbic acid made from concentrate has 112 calories and 59.8mg of vitamin C. One cup of orange juice has 74mg of Vitamin C, while a cup of orange juice from concentrate has 96mg of vitamin C. While there are some differences, they are slight.
Another deciding factor between juice and concentrate may be the price. As of 2010, it was usually cheaper to purchase a frozen container of concentrate and prepare the juice at home. Compared to not-from-concentrate juices sold in a carton, bottled or carton juices prepared from concentrate are also generally less expensive. Even though concentrate costs less at the store, it costs more to produce.
If you are an eco-conscious consumer, you may be better off choosing juice over concentrate. Evaporating the water to produce concentrate requires a great deal of energy, as does storing the concentrate in heavy-duty freezers. The amount of energy used to ship large cartons to stores may be higher than shipping smaller frozen packages, but it still does not make up for large amount of energy used to produce the concentrate.
Juice made from concentrate will have a slightly different taste than plain juice, since it is exposed to higher temperatures for longer periods of time. While some people prefer the taste of not-from-concentrate juice, others may prefer the tarter flavor of concentrate. Some people may also prefer to buy frozen concentrate because they can dilute the juice to their liking, producing either a strong flavor or a waterier one.
- Orange Juice image by David Csaba from Fotolia.com