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When you make your own fresh orange juice, do you simply blend a peeled orange, or do you squeeze the juice out with a juicer? Both make perfectly fine orange juice, but, they’re definitely not the same. One will be quite thick, with plenty of pulp, whereas the other will be watery. This results in a different drinking experience, but also in a difference in behavior and possible applications of the juice! For instance, one of the two doesn’t noticeably split over time, whereas the other one does…
- Two ways to make orange juice
- Comparing juiced vs blended orange juice
Two ways to make orange juice
Oranges happen to be perfectly suited for making into juice. They contain a lot of flavorful water that is held up by a pretty delicate system of vesicles. Unlike say and apple, or a pear, it’s easy to release the water from the orange. It’s what allows the first way of making orange juice: juicing.
Method 1: Juicing the orange
Simply cut an orange in half and press it on top of a citrus juicer. Even with just a slight effort, the juice comes pouring out. If you need to squeeze a few oranges, it’s easy to do by hand, but for larger quantities, simple electric systems exist, that still work in the exact same way. An orange is cut in half and pressed on top of a cone to release its juices.
This method works great for most citrus fruits, just like lemons, limes, and grapefuits. Their insides are sufficiently delicate to be easily broken up. The main disadvantage of this method when used for making orange juice is that all the so-called pulp is left behind, in the juicer. Orange juice pulp is made up of the vesicles and cells that hold onto the juices. They are caught in the juicer, which has a little filter that only lets the juices pass through.
Factories use a second ‘squeeze’ step
The pulp that is left behind in a juicer actually still contains a lot of juice! In factories, this pulp is therefore ‘washed’ to take out a lot more juice and have less waste at the end of the process. The resulting pulp will have less than 2% of juice left behind, whereas at home there’s likely a lot more that’s left in your pulp.
No need for a full on juicer
Most fruits and vegetables cannot be turned into juice as easily as oranges can. For these fruits and vegetables you’ll need a dedicated machine, a juicer, to separate the juice from the rest of the product. However, for oranges, a simple hand held citrus press can already to the job.
Method 2: Blending a peeled orange
You do not want any orange peel in your orange juice. Despite the presence of flavorsome oils on the outside, the peel is too tough in texture. Also, the inner side, the pith, is also quite bitter in flavor. Juicing is a great way to get just the inside, without any peel, but it’s not the only way. You can also make orange juice from peeled oranges. Once peeled, you can no longer use a juicer, there’s nothing that will hold the orange pieces together while they’re being pressed.
Instead, you’d use a blender, or food processor. Simply add the peeled orange pieces to the machine, turn it on and it will be broken down completely. By breaking down all the cell walls, the orange juice is again released from the cells. However, as opposed to the first method, none of these cells are filtered out. Which is why the resulting juice contains a lot more pulp.
Yes, you can filter out the pulp, but if you prefer a slightly pulpy juice, it may actually be desirable.
We won’t dig into the health benefits of drinking pulpy orange juice, but, keep in mind that juice with pulp contains (a lot) more fibers than filtered squeezed orange juice. It’s more like eating a whole orange, as opposed to just drinking the sugary, but tasty, liquid.
Comparing juiced vs blended orange juice
Despite being made from the exact same fruit, orange juices made using these two methods will be different, though not enormously. Let’s have a look at some of the relevant effects.
Only ‘blended’ orange juice splits
An advantage of juiced orange juice is that it won’t split. Orange juice made by blending oranges on the other hand is very prone to splitting. After as little as a few minutes the pulp will have started to rise to the top, whereas the bottom layer is purely liquid.
In factories, the presence of pulp can be troublesome, which is why it’s often removed during juicing, only to be added back later in the process. At a smaller scale, at home or in a restaurant, it may be necessary to store the blended orange juice in a container that can be shaken easily. That way, you can disperse the pulp evenly when pouring in a new glass.
Stokes’ law and orange juice
There’s not really a way to properly prevent this separation from occuring. It’s simply physics at play, more precisely, Stokes’ law. This law describes how when two different phases of a different density are mixed, they’ll split over time. The density of the pulp, which still contains some air, is lower than that of the juice. As a result, it will float to the top. It’s the same process that happens in chocolate milk, but in that case, the cocoa particles have a higher density and thus sink to the bottom whereas the milk rises on top.
Flavor of the two is the same
Orange juice made both ways will taste pretty much identical, accept for that difference in texture due to the pulp. They’ll both contain the same types of sugars, vitamins, acids and flavor molecules. Keep in mind that especially vitamin C starts to break down pretty much immediately after making the juice, regardless of the method used. So drink it quickly after making, or, do as manufacturers do, and add back some vitamin C before packaging the juice.
Use cases are very similar
Aside from personal preferences on orange juice consistency and the importance of your fiber intake, the two types of juice can be used pretty much interchangeably. However, in some cases, one might more sense than the other. For instance, in a ceviche, you’d generally prefer juiced orange juice since the pulp may interfere with the fish dish. Same for a more delicate pudding, such as a pannacotta. In many cakes on the other hand, you might as well use the juice made through blending. The added pulp will be barely noticeable in the end result, if anything, it can help improve texture by slightly thickening the mix.
Last, but not least, both orange juices will last a similar amount of time. The added pulp does not significantly impact shelf life and growth of microorganisms. In the end, if you’re planning on drinking your juice, it’s best to just follow your personal preference and drink it right after you make it!
Richard Pierce Bates, J. R. Morris, Justin R. Morris, P. G. Crandall, Principles and Practices of Small- and Medium-scale Fruit Juice Processing, Issue 146 of FAO agricultural services bulletin, FAO, ISSN 1010-1365, link
Thank you to Syb and Tim, two high school students from St. Lucas VMBO in Eindhoven, the Netherlands for assisting in making the video and photos shown in this article!
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