Boasting powerful antioxidants, loads of vitamins A and C and lots of portability, juice is healthful, convenient and profitable. It's also a very broad category, so knowing the difference between juices can ensure that specifications are carefully stated, particularly in areas like sugar content, sediments, color and acidity.
Juice is the natural fluid, fluid content or liquid part that can be extracted from a plant or one of its parts. In foodservice, it is sold in three basic forms: refrigerated, frozen and shelf-stable.
Refrigerated and frozen juices can be supplied either in single strength or concentrated. The same goes for shelf stable juices, which may be canned, pouched, bottled or boxed.
Single strength means the juice is freshly-extracted from the mature, well-ripened fruit or vegetable. Fresh-squeezed single-strength juice is often the most expensive form and is often sold as a premium product. Concentrate means water has been removed from the juice; it must be reconstituted (mixed with the appropriate amount of water). Grades for fruit juices are established by the USDA and are based on factors including appearance and color, flavor and aroma, clarity, the suspension of pulp and solids, and freedom from defects. Other factors are analytical, including brix (total soluble solids including sugar), acid (percent by weights of total acidity) and the brix/acid ratio.
Grades for many beverages have not been established. However labeling standards have long been established for beverages containing less than 100% fruit juice. Labels or product specification sheets for these beverages show the percentage of single-strength fruit juice in the product, or the serving size which meets particular portion requirements.
Juice often includes various additives. Sweeteners are one of the most common and they may be nutritive (add calories) or non-nutritive. Nutritive sweeteners include dextrose, corn syrup solids, glucose, honey, sucrose and fruit essence or puree. Non-nutritive sweeteners include artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin.
Citric acid or lemon juice may be added to enhance the flavor or adjust the acidity. Various coloring ingredients may also be used, such as FDA-approved food colors or fruit pulp or essence.
Fortification is the addition of nutrients not originally present in a processed food. Some beverage products may be fortified with added vitamin C and/or calcium. It's important to request specific fortification information from your supplier.
Years ago, the term "from concentrate" was seen by some as something of a negative factor in relation to quality. Thanks to technological advancements, suppliers today are able to produce high quality juice from concentrate. Processors are better able to control inventory by being able to reconstitute juices on a year-round basis rather than just when the fruit is in season. This also ensures a more uniform and consistent product.
Not all juices are suited to the "from concentrate" style of pack. In particular, apple and pineapple juices do not respond well to the high temperature evaporation process required.
Almost all juice sold in the United States is heat-pasteurized, a process that raises the temperature of the juice high enough to kill pathogenic bacteria. Pasteurization or equivalent heat treatments destroy enzymes and naturally-occurring spoilage organism, thus making the produce more shelf-stable.
Most refrigerated juice sold in bottles or cartons is pasteurized. Unrefrigerated juice in bottles, cans and laminated paperboard boxes have been heat-treated in a way that also eliminates pathogens. Frozen, concentrated juices are generally pasteurized during the concentration process.
Frozen Concentrated Juice
Most concentrated juices are sold as 3+1 concentrates. Higher concentrates are available but not as common. Many concentrates are stored in tank farms at the processor at 5+1 levels to make better use of storage capacity. The addition of cut-back juice or filtered water will then bring the concentrate back to a more common 3+1 level.
Another popular form in which juice concentrates are sold is a dispenser pack. Dispenser packs are normally sold as 5+1 concentrate levels. (The exception to this is orange juice, which is usually sold in a 4+1 concentrate.) The obvious advantage is that more water is extracted so you are paying for purer fruit solids (degrees brix) and not paying for shipping water.
But the reason that dispenser packs have become so popular is their ease of handling. The 5+1 concentrate is poured undiluted into special dispensing machines. The concentrate is then automatically reconstituted through a direct water feed on a glass-by-glass basis. Controls on the dispensing machine regulate the brix level of the reconstituted juice to assure that consistent quality is being served.
Apple juice. According to the USDA's standards, the brix level of Grade A apple juice is 11.0 degrees and a range of 0.25 gm - 0.70 gm per ml of malic acid to meet U.S. Grade A flavor requirements on canned apple juice. Concentrated apple juice may be added to canned juice, provided that any added apple juice concentrate shall not contribute more than one-fourth of the total apple juice solids in the finished apple juice. No water or sugars may be added directly to the finished food.
Many schools require vitamin C-fortified apple juice.
Grape juice. The best known type of grape juice is made from concord grapes and is known for it's deep, rich purple color. Generally, several varieties of grapes are blended together to provide a quality product that meets demand. Typically a blend includes between 60 and 80 percent concord variety for color; the remainder is usually another red grape variety.
Because of the necessity of blending and its natural dark color, grape juice has lent itself very well to "from concentrate" production. A white variety of grape juice is also available, and should be a similar color to white wine. Both colors are available in fortified, sweetened or unsweetened packs.
Grapefruit juice is typically blended from one of several varieties of ripened, mature grapefruit. Colorwise, Florida's pink grapefruit juices is not as pronounced as the Texas Valley's grapefruit juice like the Ruby Red variety. Large variations in the brix/acid ratios forced Texas packers into packing from concentrate to provide a uniform taste. The minimum brix requirements for grapefruit juice from concentrate is ten degrees. Hot pack only requires nine degrees brix.
Orange juice. Valencia, Pineapple, Homosassas, Jaffa, Seeding and Temple are some of the orange varieties blended together to produce orange juice. It may have added pulp and may be pasteurized for a longer shelf life.
Sweetened juice will have higher minimum ratios. Sweetened orange juice may or may not have added sugars to achieve the sweetener flavor typical of sweetened orange juice. Note: low-acid orange juice may not be sweetened.
Pineapple juice. Reconstituted pineapple juice is typically darker in color and has a more caramelized flavor than hot pack pineapple juice. Both versions are wholesome, but the taste is distinctly different.
Pineapple juice is packed in either sweetened or unsweetened styles.
Prune juice. Not less than 18.5 percent soluble solids extracted from the dried prunes should be present in this juice. It should have a good body and a typical, cloudy brown color.
Tomato juice. Prepared from the pulp of whole, peeled tomatoes, tomato juice should be lightly screened to remove defects. A "from concentrate" version is available and is more convenient than fresh pack tomato juice.
Cranberry juice cocktail is popular, as are blended combination such as cranberry-apple and cranberry-grape. Cranberry cocktail is a juice drink which consists of 10-30% cranberry extract. The normal, unadulterated flavor of cranberries is very bitter. Therefore, the juice extraction is diluted and sweeteners are added to make the juice more palatable.
Vegetable Juice Cocktail is a manufactured variation of tomato juice that is seasoned with different vegetable seasonings or extracts. Common flavorings are celery, carrots, and onion. It is similar in viscosity to tomato juice.
Fruit Nectars are prepared from specially selected fruits such as peaches, pears, papayas or apricots. They are not filtered as finely as juice, so as to purposely leave in fruit fibers and body.