After the marathon day of cooking that I had last week while testing homemade tamales, I decided to take it easy this week and compare different types of of orange juice. Although I was mostly inspired by sloth to do this comparison, that does not make it any less important; orange juice is a very popular beverage that most of us consume at least once a week. I am always excited to see “freshly squeezed” orange juice on a restaurant menu because I expect it to taste fresher than juice from concentrate, but can I really tell the difference and is fresh orange juice any cheaper than bottled?
For this comparison, I bought an 8 pound bag of oranges to make freshly squeezed juice, a can of Minute Maid Original frozen orange juice concentrate and a bottle of Simply Orange orange juice (which is not made from concentrate). I first made the homemade orange juice so that it would have some time to chill and so began my marathon of orange juicing. I do not own an electric juicer, so I juiced each orange using a small, manual juicer. It took about 6 oranges and 5 minutes of juicing to yield 2 cups of juice. The juice from concentrate was quite a bit faster to prepare, especially given that I thawed out the concentrate in the fridge the night before. Of course, the Simply Orange bottled juice was the fastest option; just open the bottle and pour!
As the picture above shows, the three juices looked remarkably similar and the differences in flavor were equally subtle. My husband and I tasted each juice several times and were able to pick up on small differences in flavor but I’m not sure I would have noticed these if not tasting the juices side by side. To my surprise, the homemade juice was the mildest tasting of the three and this may be due to the quality and variety of oranges that I bought. It tasted almost watery compared to the two other juices and had a fairly sweet aftertaste. The juice from concentrate was the most citrusy, with a good balance of sweet and sour, while the Simply Orange was by far the sweetest of the three juices. I liked the slightly sour bite of the juice from concentrate while my husband preferred the milder sweetness of freshly squeezed juice but neither of us were impressed with the extra-sweet bottled juice.
The freshly squeezed juice was by far the most expensive costing about $1 a cup, almost 4 times the price of juice from concentrate. The bottled juice fell somewhere in the middle at about 40 cents a cup.
Bottom Line: The results of this taste comparison probably depend entirely on personal taste. If you prefer a sharper orange juice then the flavor of juice from frozen concentrate may be to your taste. If you like orange juice that is sweeter, Simply Orange bottled juice or freshly squeezed are both good options. However, you will end up paying a lot more for homemade juice and spend some time slaving over a juicer and cleaning up messy pulp.