Ready-to-drink juices in cartons, bottles and cans, labeled as fresh or not-from-concentrate, means the juice was extracted from the fruit and immediately pasteurized or packaged. Other readily-consumable juices labeled from-concentrate means the juice is made from mixing water with previously-reduced fruit juice through water extraction, then processed and packaged. Fruit juice concentrate is also sold in the frozen beverage section of the supermarket, and mixed with water to reconstitute it for drinking.
Commercial juicing plants have automated peelers, coring machines and food processing equipment that prepare fresh, ripe fruit for juicing and discard the inedible parts like skins, stems, seeds and pits. The flesh of the fruit is mashed, squeezed and pressed to extract all the juices, then filtered along with pulp and small fruit pieces into a large receptacle. If the juice is headed for the not-from-concentrate market, it is packaged and shipped. Some natural juices are pasteurized before packaging to kill harmful bacteria and extend the shelf life of the product.
To concentrate juice, almost all the water is removed from the fruit through evaporation caused by heat. After the water is diminished to almost nothing, the remaining ingredients are filtered and further condensed through reverse osmosis before the juice concentrate is packaged, frozen and distributed to wholesalers and retailers.
The concentration process only removes water from fruits, so no nutritional values are compromised through the procedure. However, some fruit juice concentrate manufacturers add vitamins and minerals as well as ingredients that maintain the natural color of the fruit and enhance the flavor. Although not-from-concentrate juices may look healthier and have more fiber than their counterparts; if they are unfiltered or contain fruit pulp, they provide the same vitamins and minerals as reconstituted concentrated juice.
Benefits of Concentrated and Fresh Juices
Fruit harvesters and juice manufacturers make more money selling both concentrated and non-concentrated juices because ripe, highly-perishable fruit can be used in concentrates before it spoils. Frozen concentrated juice has a much longer shelf life than fresh juice, along with the added benefits of easy storage and mixing fresh batches as needed. Fresh juice generally has more aesthetic appeal, is normally free of sugar, flavorings, artificial coloring and other additives, and consumers frequently claim it tastes more like juice made from scratch.
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