Orange juice is the liquid extract of the fruit of the orange tree, produced by squeezing oranges. It comes in several different varieties, including blood orange. In American English, the beverage name may be abbreviated as “OJ”.
Due to the importance of oranges to the economy of the state of Florida, “the juice obtained from mature oranges of the species Citrus sinensis and hybrids thereof” was adopted as the official beverage of Florida in 1967. Orange juice (along with grapefruit juice) is offered to every visitor at each of the state’s five Florida Welcome Centers. Commercial orange juice with a long shelf life is made by drying and later rehydrating the juice, or by concentrating the juice and later adding water to the concentrate. Prior to drying, the juice may also be pasteurized and oxygen removed from it, necessitating the later addition of a flavor pack, generally made from orange products.
The health value of orange juice is debatable. It has a high concentration of vitamin C, but also a very high concentration of simple sugars, comparable to soft drinks such as colas. As a result, some government nutritional advice has been adjusted to encourage substitution of orange juice with raw fruit, which is digested more slowly, and limit daily consumption.
A cup serving of raw, fresh orange juice, amounting to 248 grams or 8 ounces, has 124 mg of vitamin C (>100% RDI). It has 20.8 g of sugars and has 112 Calories. It also supplies potassium, thiamin, and folate.
Citrus juices contain flavonoids (especially in the pulp) that may have health benefits. Orange juice is also a source of the antioxidant hesperidin. Because of its citric acid content, orange juice is acidic, with a typical pH of around 3.5.
Commercial orange juice and concentrate
Frozen concentrated orange juice
Commercial squeezed orange juice is pasteurized and filtered before being evaporated under vacuum and heat. After removal of most of the water, this concentrated juice, about 65% sugar by weight, is then stored at about 10 °F (−12 °C). Essences, Vitamin C, and oils extracted during the vacuum concentration process may be added back to restore flavor and nutrition (see below).
When water is added to freshly thawed concentrated orange juice, it is said to be reconstituted.
The product was developed in 1948 at the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center. Since, it has emerged as a commodity product, and futures contracts have traded in New York since 1966. Options on FCOJ were introduced in 1985. From the late 1950s to the mid-1980s, the product had the greatest orange juice market share, but not-from-concentrate juices surpassed FCOJ in the 1980s.
Not from concentrate
Orange juice that is pasteurized and then sold to consumers without having been concentrated is labeled as “not from concentrate”. Just as “from concentrate” processing, most “not from concentrate” processing reduces the natural flavor from the juice. The largest producers of “not from concentrate” use a production process where the juice is placed in aseptic storage, with the oxygen stripped from it, for up to a year.
Removing the oxygen also strips out flavor-providing compounds, and so manufactures add a flavor pack in the final step, which Cooks Illustrated magazine describes as containing “highly engineered additives.” Flavor pack formulas vary by region, because consumers in different parts of the world have different preferences related to sweetness, freshness and acidity. According to the citrus industry, the Food and Drug Administration does not require the contents of flavor packs to be detailed on a product’s packaging.
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