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A glass of Orange juice.

Most of us think this is all natural.

I haven’t really drunk orange juice for a number of years. Fruit juices have a lot of sugars in them, and not much else. I’d rather eat a piece of fruit rather than drink it. Still my boyfriend likes orange juice and I kept it in the house for when he was here. I would also occasionally use it in recipes. So its been a staple in my refrigerator for years.

But no more….

Like many people, I’ve bought into the advertising. (I hate when I realize I do that). I bought into the commercials of people reaching into the grocery shelf and a farmer handing them a container right from his orchard. I figured that juices that were 100% juice had to be decent food sources.

Unfortunately, its not true. And looking back, I have to wonder how I could have been so accepting without really thinking about it. Growing up in Los Angeles, our back yard had a lot of fruit trees. We had lemons, tangerine, grapefruit, navel oranges, valencia oranges, and mandarin oranges. We had trees which grew a variety of plums, peaches and apples. And each of these trees bore their fruit in their seasons. For citrus, that season was winter. We had plums in summer, not citrus. So how could I get fresh orange juice from the store all year round?

The answer, it turns out, is we can’t. Instead the orange (and I am sure other citrus) growers actually squeeze all the oranges when they are ripe (hence “squeezed from fresh” in the advertising) and then store them for up to a year. In order to preserve the juice, they pasteurize it (again with the pasteurization) and remove all the oxygen from the juice.

When the processors remove the oxygen, they remove the flavor. (I’m not convinced that they also remove nutrients as well). Once they reconstitute the stored juice and oxygen, the companies add their own “flavor packets”, which consist of closely held recipes of orange oils and “orange essence”. Each company has their own unique recipe, which results in both each company’s orange juice always being a consistent taste and each company’s juice tastes different from their competitors.

Commercially produced orange juice is also pasteurized. Heated to a point that it kills bacteria such as salmonella, it most likely also kills more beneficial enzymes. Orange juice is considered to be very high in vitamin C, however vitamin C is very sensitive to temperatures above 70 degrees (consider that pasteurization heats up to 140 and draw your own conclusions).

A good book on this is Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice by Alissa Hamilton. While I haven’t read the book yet (its on my list), its yet another realization that the food we thought was good for us (and used to be) is no longer.

I’m trying to eat as close to the real food chain as possible. Knowing this, I told my boyfriend, I won’t be buying orange juice anymore. I’m willing to compromise by buying organic oranges and using a juicer to actually create pure juice.

I’ve actually purchased a manual citrus juicer from Amazon. I decided on a manual juicer over an electric one since I don’t expect to use it constantly and apparently, the electric juicers aren’t very good at separating juice from the pulp.

Remembering the lessons I had while living in LA, the best oranges for juicing are Valencias. While they weren’t good for eating, my mom would use them to make juice. They are small and available most of the year. We always used the Valencias for juicing when I grew up and ate the navel oranges. Most manual juicers are designed for the smaller Valencias rather than the larger Navel oranges. Valencies have a thinner skin and are harder to peel than Navels, all good qualities for juicing. Remember to wash the oranges well before squeezing, just in case.

So this winter, I’ll relent a bit from only buying local, because I love my boyfriend and I’ll buy some organic valencia oranges. I’ll make him some juice in the mornings when he is here.

Or maybe I’ll just hand him the oranges and the juicer and let him do it….

3 Responses to “Giving up on Orange Juice”

  1. Keith Campbell says:

    I gave up juice, for the most part, long ago, because of the sugar. I do occasionally have a craving for the flavor of liquid sunlight, though — but these days, I tend to pick the imported blood orange juice, which probably has some of these same flaws, but since I only let myself have a bottle a couple times a year, I’m not too concerned.

    Ah, commercial food packaging. *spits and makes sign against the evil eye* >:-)

  2. Penelope Schmon says:

    Yanno, I’ve had my doubts for years about the reliability of what one reads on the packaging. When it says 100% juice, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all from the fruit named on the package front. For instance, my daughter recently encountered an issue with her nephew who is allergic to apples. The day care gave him a Strawberry Kiwi Capri Sun. It says “Strawberry Kiwi” not “Apple”. And it says “100%” juice. What would you think? Turns out, and I knew this already from reading the ingredients for the sugar content for my diabetic son, that the number one fruit juice that is in Strawberry Kiwi is…you guessed it, Apple Juice. Ironically, the same thing occurred several weeks previously when they inadvertently gave him Strawberry Fruit Snacks, again 100% fruit, only to discover that Apple Pectin was an ingredient.

    There is no truth in advertising anymore. Frankly, I’m not sure there ever was.

  3. I never really liked juice very much. I think it is just too sweet for me. But I think you will ind subbing a nice fresh orange will be just as good, if not even better! 🙂