File this one under "things we always sort of knew, but wish we didn't." All that "100% orange juice, not from concentrate" stuff you've been drinking? Technically, it's "not from concentrate," but it's not really 100% orange juice either, a report at Civil Eats details.
The process is rather depressing. Gizmodo explains part of the process:
Once the juice is squeezed and stored in gigantic vats, they start removing oxygen. Why? Because removing oxygen from the juice allows the liquid to keep for up to a year without spoiling. But! Removing that oxygen also removes the natural flavors of oranges. Yeah, it's all backwards. So in order to have OJ actually taste like oranges, drink companies hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that make perfumes for Dior, to create these "flavor packs" to make juice taste like, well, juice again.
Any taste difference in say Minute Maid versus Tropicana is therefore due to the specific flavor pack the company uses. Since these flavor packs are made from orange byproducts, they don't have to be considered an ingredient, and therefore are not required to appear on food labels. This is despite the fact they are chemically altered.
Perhaps its time to take the juicer out of that dusty corner in the garage.
UPDATE: Karen Mathis, the Public Relations Director of the Florida Department of Citrus wrote HuffPost Food the following letter that offers the citrus industry's description of the process, without disputing any of the above:
Dear Ms. Polis,
On behalf of the Florida Department of Citrus, I am writing in response to the article on HuffPost Food, entitled "Why 100% Orange Juice is Still Artificial." Please allow me to share further information.
Purchased by nearly 70 percent of American households, people choose 100 percent orange juice for its great taste and nutrition benefits. Both "from concentrate" and "not from concentrate" orange juice are healthy options that provide a variety of nutrients. By utilizing state-of-the-art technology, Florida is able to provide a consistent supply of high quality, nutritious orange juice year round.
By law, 100 percent orange juice is made only from oranges. The basic principle of orange juice processing is similar to how you make orange juice at home. Oranges are washed and the juice is extracted by squeezing the oranges. Seeds and particles are strained out. Orange juice is pasteurized to ensure food safety.
During processing, natural components such as orange aroma, orange oil from the peel, and pulp may be separated from the orange juice. After the juice is pasteurized, these natural orange components may be added back to the orange juice for optimal flavor.
Please visit www.OrangeJuiceFacts.com for more information about orange juice.
Please feel free to contact me if you'd like to discuss in more detail. Thank you for your time and consideration.