May the 4th be with you on your quest to consume the most delicious and freshest of orange juices today for National Orange Juice Day. We had to get that one out of the way for the Star Wars fans out there. Orange juice is probably the most popular breakfast drink in America. Is the orange juice you buy in the grocery store actually juice, though? How natural is that “juice” that lines the grocery store shelves?
Of course, many Americans like to go for the brands that say “100% juice” and “not from concentrate.” These terms are not really as honest as you might think. Not from concentrate juice may come from real oranges, but it is definitely not 100% juice. The only way to have 100% juice is if it is fresh pressed in front of you at a juice bar, or you juice the oranges yourself.
Here’s The Juice On OJ
If any of you have ever juiced oranges, you know that the juice only lasts for a couple days. Some orange juice companies will source only from American growers, while others use blends from Brazil or Mexico with American-grown oranges. Once the growers pick the oranges, they are sent to the juice facility, where they are juiced. The juice is then stored in giant tanks for about 8 months or so.
In order for the juice to be stored for this long, the juice is pasteurized and the oxygen is removed. This step allows the juice to stay good for up to one year. When the juice is ready to be distributed, the companies add water, pulp, and flavor packs to make the juice taste like juice. The only reason orange juice varieties taste different is due to the flavor packs that companies use. You are not tasting the oranges; rather, you are tasting a combination of sugars, chemicals, flavor additives, and processed ingredients.
The reason companies get to call orange juice “100% juice” is because the ingredients in the flavor packs are derived from the orange peel, seeds, and oil. If you read all the ingredients on an orange juice carton or bottle, you will know that it isn’t 100% juice. If it was 100% orange juice, the only ingredient would be oranges.
Oranges are only in season for about 3-4 months out of the year, which is why companies have to pasteurize and then store the “juice” in those giant tanks. We want you to know all of this so that you know exactly what you are putting in your body. Remember that fresh is always best and that if the product is on a shelf, it isn’t all that fresh.
Enjoy an orange or two today, or use a citrus juicer and squeeze some fresh OJ. It is National Orange Juice Day after all.