Recently, new products on the juice market have emerged endlessly. For example, original juice, fresh juice, cold-pressed juice, NFC juice, etc…What is the difference between these juices? Why are some juices so expensive? This article will explain it.
Let’s first talk about the most common juice in supermarkets.
1. Concentration reduction: traditional juice processing
In supermarkets, many bottled juices are often labeled “100% pure juice”. Generally speaking, this kind of juice is not directly packaged and sold after being squeezed into juice, but has undergone a concentrated reduction process.
If you pay attention to their ingredient list, you will find that they are a blend of “fruit juice concentrate” and water.
In other words, after the fruit is squeezed into juice, these juices must first evaporate a part of the water to become concentrated juice, and then reduce to “just 100%” with water, then sterilize, and sell after filling.
Isn’t this “a redundant act”? In fact, it is not. Of course, the business has a purpose. The most important factor is to save transportation and storage costs.
You know, the “fruit producing area” is often very far away from the “market where the juice is sold.” In such a long distance, how to control transportation costs is something that businesses must consider. By evaporating some of the water in the juice, the volume is greatly reduced and transportation is much easier!
Another advantage of concentrated juice is that it can be stored for a long time without deterioration. This is because after concentration, its sugar content is too high, and microorganisms can no longer survive in such a high osmotic pressure environment. Therefore, the business can produce a lot of concentrated juice in the fruit harvest season, and restore as much juice as you want. Is it convenient?
It is precisely because of these two factors that “concentrated juice” has become the mainstream in the market. Of course, this juice has its drawbacks. That is: the smell is wrong!
This is mainly because in the process of concentration, many water-soluble fragrance substances will be evaporated along with the water.
In addition, in the process of sterilization, the effect of high temperature will also change the flavor. In general, concentrated and reduced juice may not taste as good as freshly squeezed.
This is why the apple juice and orange juice we buy in the supermarket are not the same as the one we squeezed.
2. The emergence of NFC juice
In order to make up for this loss of taste, NFC juices have begun to appear in recent years and occupy a certain market share.
NFC is not mysterious, it is the abbreviation of “Not From Concentrate”. Some NFC juices use the translation method “original squeeze”, they are the same thing. However, be careful to distinguish it from “fresh squeezing.”
Generally, “freshly squeezed” means that the fruit is directly filled without sterilization after being pressed. This is more common in juice shops, and can also be seen in foreign supermarkets.
Since there is no sterilization step, although this kind of juice is fresh, but the shelf life is very short, generally you have to buy it and drink it directly. At most, it can only be saved for less than a week.
Although NFC (original squeezed) juice is not concentrated and reduced, sterilization is still an essential processing step. Generally, it is more common to use instantaneous ultra-high temperature sterilization (UHT) technology, so that it can meet the requirements of extending the shelf life.
The flavor of NFC juice will be better than that of concentrated reduced juice, but due to the high temperature sterilization step, it will still be a bit worse than fresh juice. However, due to the increase in transportation and storage costs, the price of NFC juice is more expensive than ordinary concentrated juice.
There are many NFC juices that claim to be more nutritious than ordinary juices, but in fact, the nutritional content of the two will not be much different.
The nutrient loss of juice is mainly in the two processes of juicing and sterilization, but these two processes are unavoidable whether it is NFC juice or ordinary juice.
3. Cold pressing technology and high pressure sterilization technology
Is there any way to change the taste and nutrient loss in the two processes of juicing and sterilization? There are methods, but it has not yet been widely popularized, and that is cold pressing technology. But before discussing the cold pressing technology in detail, let’s talk about the juice extraction process.
The traditional juice extraction method can be compared to the juice extractor at home, which uses the rapid rotation of the blade to chop the pulp and extract the juice.
This will cause a problem, that is, in the process of shredding, due to friction and heat, the temperature of the pulp will become higher. This will cause some nutritional loss and flavor changes.
Cold Press (Cold Press) technology is to change the traditional juice extraction into “squeezing”, which presses instead of cutting to press out the water in the fruit. In this way, the temperature of the fruit will not rise, and the nutrients and flavor in it will be well protected.
Let’s talk about the sterilization process. Traditional sterilization, whether it is pasteurization or ultra-high temperature sterilization (UHT) technology, is to let the juice reach a relatively high temperature and continue for a period of time to kill bacteria. But like squeezing juice, high temperatures can cause loss of nutrition and flavor.
Is there any way to sterilize without using high temperature? Of course there is, and it is violent. If there is no high temperature, I will use high pressure to kill the microorganisms.
This is High Pressure Processing (HPP). The juice is placed in a high-pressure environment of about 600 Mpa. In this case, most microorganisms cannot survive and the spores cannot be killed, so the shelf life under the cold chain is 28 days.
The fruit juice processed by cold pressing technology and high-pressure sterilization method can retain nutrients and taste to a greater extent, and the shelf life can also meet the requirements of industrial production.
The downside is: too expensive. Can’t afford to drink. In the United States, a small bottle of cold-pressed juice costs more than US$20, which is a relatively normal price for this product.
However, the little nutrients (mainly vitamins and antioxidants) that cold-pressed juice enhances can actually be easily obtained from other foods. So buying this product for “nutrition” is not very cost-effective.
Because the cost cannot be reduced, these two technologies are currently difficult to popularize. Hope that in the near future, we can see new technological breakthroughs.
To sum up:
1. Traditional 100% juice is mostly concentrated and reduced, and taste and nutrition will be lost to some extent.
2. NFC juice can reduce the loss of taste.
3. To reduce the loss of taste and nutrition, cold pressing and high-pressure sterilization techniques can be used, but the cost will increase, and the relative cost performance is not very high.
4. Note: NFC, cold pressing, and high-pressure sterilization technologies all occur in different stages of juice production. Cold pressing is a new technology in the juice extraction process, NFC means that there is no concentration reduction process, and high pressure sterilization is a new technology in the sterilization process. So they can be used in any combination.