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There are different juice types that says on label

  • 100% juice
  • Not from concentrate
  • From concentrate
  • 96% juice (they are usually cheaper).

What is the difference between them?

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What "is" 100% is really (unfortunately) more of a 'legal' question than a culinary query. It matters very much what country you are in and often what fruit it is sourced from. While not directly on point @Aaronut's answer to this question should give you some insight into what is at issue. –  Cos Callis Jan 24 '13 at 18:41
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@CosCallis This is really quite answerable - there are I'm sure some details about what can be sold as 100% juice, but from concentrate vs not is a reasonable question, and <100% juice is pretty universally going to mean that sugar water was added. And unless there's basically no regulation, 100% means what it sounds like - though it might be grape or apple instead of the purported flavors. –  Jefromi Jan 26 '13 at 2:17
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1 Answer 1

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Fruit contains lots of water. When you take a piece of fruit at home and press it, you end up with sugars, vitamins and other solids dissolved in water. Let's assume that 100 g of just-pressed juice has X g of water and 100-X g of juice.

A manufacturer who sells juice can do several things.

  • pasteurize the juice and sell it as-is. This is 100% juice, not from concentrate, and will often be labelled as "contains pulp" for citrus juices, or "naturally cloudy" for apple juice.
  • filter the juice, then pasteurize and sell. This is again 100% juice, not from concentrate, sold as "clear" juice.
  • Instead of just pasteurizing the juice, he may boil out Y g of water from the juice somewhere close to where the fruit is grown (Y < X, trying to boil out enough water to get only the solids from the fruit will change the taste too much). This is called concentrate. It gets shipped to the packaging plant, where Y ml of pure water are added back before packaging. This is 100% juice from concentrate. The advantage from the manufacturer: he pays per weight for shipping between the juicing factory (which can be somewhere in the tropics where fruit is cheap) and the packaging plant (which is close to where the customer lives). Not shipping tons of water saves lots of costs, and concentrate is less perishable than non-packaged juice.
  • Water costs less than fruit juice. If a manufacturer adds 50 g water to 50 g fruit juice (no matter whether from concentrate or not), this is a 50% fruit juice drink. Most customers expect a fruit juice to be sweet and slightly sour, so the manufacturer adds not just water, but water with sugar and acid in it (mostly citric acid). A 96% juice would be if the manufacturer adds only 4 g of water to 96 g of juice.
  • as a final note, 100% juice does not mean that the juice is only from the fruit given in the title. Apple and citrus juice is very cheap, but all other juices are expensive (depending on area, there can be other cheap juices too). So, many manufacturers will sell 100% juice which is in fact blended juice - if the package says "Sour cherry, 100% juice" chances are that it is 25% cherry juice and 75% apple juice. Such combinations are given in fine print in the ingredients list, but AFAIK they are not legally required to list the exact ratio of juices used in a juice blend (this will vary between legislations).
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One thing to add -- the 100% juice from concentrate will typically go through two pasturization cycles (once while concentrating it, then again after watered down). So there's more degredation than you'd get if purchased the concentrate and rehydrated it yourself. (America's Test Kitchen did a taste-test, and said it was evident in their results) –  Joe Jan 25 '13 at 2:33
    
I have one point to make, Florida Natural Juice which is labelled as freshly squeezed not from concentrate is not marketed as 100% juice. So many be not from concentrate mean, never pasteurized? –  The crocodile hunter Jan 25 '13 at 2:56
    
@Thecrocodilehunter, if you look closely at Florida's Natural OJ (even in that picture you linked), it says 100% pure Florida orange juice. You can check the ingredients if you're not sure and the only ingredient should be "orange juice". Be careful with some OJs these days though, I accidentally bought one that was 50/50 OJ/water with stevia mixed in. Read labels if you're not sure what's inside. –  lemontwist Jan 25 '13 at 11:55
    
@Thecrocodilehunter "Not from concentrate" means what rumtscho says in his answer - it hasn't had water boiled off then re-added later. By the way, you can sometimes buy concentrated OJ, to add your own water to. –  slim Jan 25 '13 at 12:03
    
@Thecrocodilehunter pasteurization is not the same as creating a concentrate. Also, you can dilute fresh juice - mix 1 part fresh juice with 1 part water (without going through a concentration step) and what you get is 50% juice. Not many manufacturers do it, because it doesn't make much sense economically, but it can be done. –  rumtscho Jan 25 '13 at 12:13
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