Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
Frozen concentrated orange juice is easy to carry home, lasts up to two years in the freezer, is cheaper than refrigerated juice, and takes up little space until you reconstitute it. But we’d long written it off as a relic from the 1950s, when convenience often trumped freshness. To test our assumption, we bought three nationally available products, added water according to directions, and held a blind taste test. We were shocked to find that we actually liked two of the products.
It turns out that frozen and refrigerated juice are more similar than we knew: All commercial orange juice is extracted mechanically and strained of pulp to varying degrees. Refrigerated orange juice is then pasteurized. Juice destined to be frozen concentrate goes to an evaporation chamber, where heat removes the water; the concentrate is then frozen. Both types of orange juice may be enhanced with oils extracted from peels, and both are tested for Brix (sweetness) and acidity and then blended to suit brand specifications. So we tasted our favorite frozen concentrate again, this time alongside our winning refrigerated orange juice. The refrigerated brand barely eked out a win, and we were shocked all over again.
So what of the lousy frozen orange juice that many of us remember from childhood? These days, the evaporation process goes much faster than in the past, minimizing off flavors, according to Kristen Gunter, executive director of the Florida Citrus Processors Association. She added that most frozen concentrate now includes pulp for a more natural texture. From now on, we’ll stock our freezer with our winning frozen concentrated orange juice—and never be caught without OJ again.
Our favorite premium extra-virgin olive oil from a previous tasting, Columela is composed of a blend of intense Picual, mild Hojiblanca, Ocal, and Arbequina olives. This oil took top honors for its fruity flavor and excellent balance. Tasters praised its “big olive aroma, big olive taste” with a “buttery” flavor that is “sweet” and “full,” with a “peppery finish.” One taster said: “It’s very green and fresh—like a squeezed olive.” Another simply wrote: “Fantastic.”
|Spain||$19 for 17 oz|
Tasters noted this oil’s flavor was “much deeper than the other samples,” describing it as “fruity, with a slight peppery finish,” “buttery undertones,” and a “clean, green taste” that was “aromatic, with a good balance.” “It has the flavor that some good EVOOs have,” said one admiring taster.
|Italy||$19.99 for 500 ml ($39.98 per liter)|
Virtually tied for second place, this oil was deemed “round and buttery,” with a “light body” and flavor that was “briny and fruity,” “very fine and smooth,” and “almost herbal,” with “great balance.” “Good olive flavor. I could smell it and taste it,” approved one taster. In a word, “pleasant.”
|Italy||$17.99 for 750 ml ($23.98 per liter)|
|Recommended with Reservations|
A clear step down from the top oils, tasters noted “overall mild” flavor and “very little aroma,” with only a “hint of green olive” and a “hint of spiciness at the end.” In pasta, it was initially “not complex,” but gradually “bloomed in your mouth.” Overall, it was “worthy of a second bite.”
|Italy, Greece, Spain, and Tunisia||$12.49 for 750 ml ($16.65 per liter)|
While some tasters found this oil “sweet” and “buttery” with “medium body” and “slight spice at the end,” others complained that it had “zero olive flavor” and was “so floral it’s almost like eating perfume”; still others noted a “bitter” aftertaste. In pasta, it was “extremely mild” to the point of being “boring.”
|Italy, Greece, Spain, and Tunisia||$10.99 for 750 ml ($14.65 per liter)|
Comments: The best comments tasters could muster were “mild” and “neutral.” Some liked it on pasta (though one called it “Snoozeville”), but complaints were myriad: “metallic,” “soapy,” “briny,” “hints of dirt.” Carped one taster, “I can’t imagine what is in here, but they have a nerve calling it EVOO.”
|Spain||$13.99 for 1 liter|
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