There’s a dirty secret in your glass of orange juice. Even though it says “not from concentrate,” it probably sat in a large vat for up to year with all the oxygen removed from it. This allows it to be preserved and dispensed all year-round. Taking out all the O2 also gets rid of all the flavor. So the juice makers have to add the flavors back in using preformulated recipes full of chemicals called “flavor packs.” Mmm, delicious, fresh-squeezed ethyl-butyrate!
Author Aliissa Hamilton covers this in her book, “Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice.” Of her findings, she writes on the Civl Eats blog:
Juice companies therefore hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that formulate perfumes for Dior and Calvin Klein, to engineer flavor packs to add back to the juice to make it taste fresh. Flavor packs aren’t listed as an ingredient on the label because technically they are derived from orange essence and oil. Yet those in the industry will tell you that the flavor packs, whether made for reconstituted or pasteurized orange juice, resemble nothing found in nature. The packs added to juice earmarked for the North American market tend to contain high amounts of ethyl butyrate, a chemical in the fragrance of fresh squeezed orange juice that, juice companies have discovered, Americans favor.
Less you think this is some kind of organic hippy conspiracy theory, deaeration and pasteurization are very real in the orange juice and they do remove flavor. Here is a study to that effect posted on the USDA.gov site.
If this is the type of thing that bothers you, buying OJ from the store in May through June is the only way to ensure that most of the juice is from fresh Valencia oranges. The rest of the year it’s reflavored sugar water from a tank farm.
Freshly Squeezed: The Truth About Orange Juice in Boxes [Civil Eats]
Don’t get squeezed when shopping for juice [Baltimore Sun]