The Truth About Orange Juice

So you know those orange juices you buy from the store that say they’re 100% orange juice and not made from concentrate? You would think that would mean the orange juice is fresh squeezed and then bottled and shipped directly to your local grocery store.  I was shocked to learn recently that there is more to our orange juice than meets the eye. Once commercial orange juice is squeezed it is stored in giant holding tanks. This juice needs to last for a year so it is viable on shelves and in consumer’s homes. To prolong the life of the juice the oxygen is removed from it. This renders the juice flavorless. Before the juice is bottled the juice companies hire fragrance companies to formulate flavor packs to add back into the juice to make it taste good and fresh (and like orange juice). Each major orange juice company has a signature flavor pack that they use to give their orange juice a distinctive taste. Because the flavor pack is derived from the essence of an orange it does not have to be listed on the carton as a separate thing, even though it did not come from any of the oranges used to make that juice.

Finding this out shocked me. I understand that products have to be prepared differently to meet the distribution needs of hundreds of millions of people that live in this country and like a glass of OJ. I have a problem with companies saying their orange juice is 100% fresh-squeezed when it’s not. I’m all for a customer having full and accurate information so they can make their own decisions from there. My personal belief is that legitimately fresh squeezed orange juice tastes a million times better than any orange juice bought from a store. Whenever I go to a restaurant for breakfast and see they have homemade orange juice on their menu I order it. If it’s not fresh squeezed it’s not worth it to me. The  last two places I had fresh orange juice were The Waffle Shop in State College and Mon Ami Gabi in Las Vegas.

When I was browsing Wegmans today I saw a display for Sumo Citrus. It’s mostly a mandarin mixed with some orange. The guy handing out samples said it’s famous for its large size, being easy to peel, having no seeds, and being super tasty. I had one bite and was immediately envisioning making orange juice with it. It was so sweet with no trace of bitterness or the super chewy texture that some oranges can have. The one negative about this fruit is the price. One Sumo orange cost me $2.50. It was an exciting new purchase so it was totally worth it for me to spend the money to get to test it out. Obviously for weekly orange purchases I would be buying cheaper oranges.

So here’s the thing. My family has this amazing Vitamix and we absolutely love it. Diane and I have that thing blending spinach and kale daily. But the Vitamix can do so much more. I feel like I need to do a Vitamix challenge where I test out all of its food creation potential. While I know a lot of people love juicers I don’t like the idea of separating the fiber and pectin (which is super helpful for IBS) from the food. Unlike when I was younger I also love pulp filled orange juice. I don’t know what happened to be me as I got older, pulp would have made me gag back in the day, but now I absolutely love it!

I found this super easy 4-ingredient Orange Juice recipe on the Vitamix website and thought it would be fun to try.

Ingredients:

1 whole orange, peeled and separated

1/4 cup water

Handful of ice cubes

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional but delicious!)

The instructions are simple. Throw it all in the blender and then mix anywhere from a few seconds to a full minute depending on how pulpy you want it. For anyone with a Vitamix a minute is like a decade. I mixed for a little less than ten seconds.

Mmm mmm mmm. This orange juice was flavorful, it was fresh, and it tasted like good orange juice is supposed to taste. I thought the hint of vanilla was an awesome flavor addition. As you can tell from this photo my orange juice was super pulpy. If you like smooth and creamy orange juice I would recommend blending for the whole minute to obliterate any pulp. I would recommend about half the time if you’re a moderate pulp lover. And if you’re a hardcore fan like me (or just really impatient) about ten seconds is perfect. :D

I love oranges but have gotten away from drinking orange juice over the yeras because the taste in a carton is not my favorite and there’s so much sugar. I want to bring OJ back into my life in a big way by making it myself and keeping it in the fridge for when a craving hits. I love that it has the same nutritional value as eating the orange outright. And when I’m not using gourmet oranges the price is really cheap!

Question of the Day: Are you Team Fresh Squeezed or Team Store Bought? Can you taste a difference? What fruits and veggies do you like to blend?

Comments

  1. says

    I think I am going to send this post to my mom & dad. I’ve been telling them for at least a year that their “fresh” OJ that lasts a month open in the fridge is NOT fresh! Of course, they do not believe me!
    I definitely LOVE FRESH OJ! :) And I need a VitaMix to be one of the cool kids!

    • says

      I know right, it’s sad that we’re being conditioned we shouldn’t be surprised by things like this. Making your own juice is so easy! I hope you enjoy!

  2. says

    mmm. You are right… A bit pricey for a single orange. But sometimes it is worth the splurge! That is why they call it a splurge. :) I would love to work with a vitamix one day.

  3. says

    Wow, Erin, I had no idea! I’m really disappointed to hear that about orange juice. Makes me wonder about ANY juice sold in stores that says not from concentrate. I may have to try that recipe, too. I recognize that orange , too!!

    • says

      That’s a good point Erik. I have no idea the process other juices go through. I’ll have to look into that. The orange was so good, I just wish it was cheaper so I could buy it on a more consistent basis!

  4. says

    I just made this in my vitamix and it is devine!! I don’t like pulp so I blended longer (on the smoothie setting). I’m going to make it for my kids tomorrow. I never buy store orange juice because of the cost and added sugar. This is the way to go!

  5. Adam says

    I enjoyed the recipe, except for all of the air that gets whipped into it! Burp! Although a lot more work, using a juicer tastes better IMHO than the Vitamix recipe, but either is a huge leap above store bought. Thanks for the recipe!

  6. Heather says

    Erin,
    I am new to your website but I have learned facts about OJ and what they have to do to produce it and get on the shelves to sell. We recently brought a Vitamix and I love it.
    We were trying to find a recipe for homemade orange Juice and happen to find your recipe for it. Thank you
    I have had to go gluten free due to health reasons and have gone more healthier foods and not processed. I am amazed what I have learned just switching over and how many people suffer due to foods that are not really good for you.
    Thanks,
    Heather

  7. says

    Erin,

    YUM! Just got our Vitamix today and this will – hands down – be the first thing I make here shortly…

    Have you tried storing it after making it with the ice? I noticed the ice in the vitamix recipe too and am just wondering if that would water it down or if it’s necessary for the consistency and ease of blending.

  8. Larry says

    I have a Vitamix but don’t use it as often as I should. I purchased it at the Texas State Fair after sitting through a demonstration. The presenter knew the nutritional values of everything he blended. I am just not confident in knowing what and how much to blend in order to get the benefits I am looking for. Also I don’t know what you mean by peel and section. The presenter was usually pretty emphatic about peeling due to the loss of nutrients.

    When you peel an orange, do you mean remove only the outer, orange-colored zest? Particularly with the Vitamix, the white layer and the seeds can be left in the recipe due to its ability to grind them to their molecular level and thereby add to the nutritional value for the adult consumer. For instance, the white portion of the peel holds double the amount of Vitamin C the inner sectionsof the fruit. Anyway, please share any fruit juice based Vitamix drinks that you recommend. Thanks for your help.

  9. Nicole says

    Thank you for this recipe. I am home sick and doubled the recipe to get more vitamin C. It tastes great! I love the addition of the Vanilla extract. A nice healthy treat to help me get back and running to go back to work, hopefully tomorrow! I bought myself a Vitamix as a Christmas gift to “me” and it was the best gift!

  10. Mike says

    My wife is the vitamix master in our house. But as I looked at the bag of Halo brand clemintines on the counter, I decided to “make” orange juice. Thanks for creating this page.

    The OJ turned out great. These little oranges are killer sweet to begin with.

    I might try a citrus cocktail next (grapefruit, lemon, lime, oranges). Or maybe the same plus cayenne pepper, maple syrup and brandy for a cold fighter.

    I’ve heard that this machine can make hot soup just from blade friction. That sounds cool.

    Thanks again.

  11. Cindy says

    I just made this today. I used the vanilla, and I think I could taste it more than the oranges (I used 3 small easy-peel oranges). I wonder if it was the vanilla making it taste NOT like orange juice, or the type of oranges I used.

    Any suggestions?

    • says

      I wonder if maybe the sumo orange has a stronger flavor, overpowering the vanilla more than regular oranges would? Mine definitely tasted orange juice-y. Next time I would omit the vanilla, or dial down on the vanilla. I’m sorry you experienced problems!

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