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Taste Test: The Best Orange Juice

Taste Test: The Best Orange Juice


We tried 9 brands of the pulp-free variety.

Nothing compares to the flavor of fresh-squeezed orange juice from fruit in its prime for a very good reason: A fair amount of processing goes into not-from-concentrate OJ. Most cartons contain the pooled juices from oranges harvested anywhere from Florida to Brazil, squeezed, pasteurized, and stored for up to a year. That's why, when we threw a glass of the fresh stuff into the tasting, it was unanimously picked as the favorite. But among the boxes are some standouts—and they turned out to be the big national brands.

WINNER: Florida's Natural, $2.98 (64 ounces)
This OJ's fresh flavor and balanced bitter-to-sweet punch truly mimicked the fresh-squeezed thing. Perhaps that's because the oranges are grown and processed by a small co-op of Florida farmers.(4 ounces: 55 calories; 11g sugar; 60% vitamin C)

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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RUNNER-UP: Tropicana Pure Premium, $3.39 (64 ounces)
The sweetest OJ of our group may have looked light and smooth, but we were surprised by its full-bodied burst of flavor. It also had a fresh-squeezed aroma. (4 ounces: 55 calories; 11g sugar; 60% vitamin C)

HOW WE TEST
A panel of Cooking Light staff attended one blind tasting of nine brands of pulp-free, 100 percent pure squeezed orange juice, none from concentrate.


Breakfast taste test

Marks and Spencer Gloucester Old Spot Pork Sausages
360g, £3.79, marksandspencer.com
This sausage smells like a roast leg of pork. It needs a bit more seasoning, but it's a good, juicy, porky sausage.
★★★★

Tesco Organic British Pork Sausages
325g, £3.19, tesco.com
A combination of chunky and pastey meat. It's caramelised on the outside - lovely sweetness on the tongue.
★★★

Whole Foods Market Free Range Pork Sausages (made in house)
£8.99 per kilo, wholefoodsmarket.com
The largest of them all with very little fat. An honest, simple sausage with lots of pepper. Maybe a bit too plain.
★★★


#10 Odwalla Orange Juice

Odwalla OJ is not the “wow, this is some good orange juice” brand. It does taste like it is freshly squeezed, but there is just something slightly off putting about the taste. It still beats out other juices on the market, but because this is the best of the best, it will have to hold the #10 spot, simply because the ones further down on the list are so much better.

Per serving: 160 calories, 35g sugar, 37g carbohydrate, 0g fat (0g saturated), 1g protein


Margarita Recipe Taste Test: Are Expensive Tequilas & Orange Liqueurs Worth The Price?

America doesn't give the margarita the respect it deserves.

Most margaritas served in the States are treacly, salty, gooey abominations: 24 ounce swamps of half-melted ice sweetened with corn syrup and tinted bright green with food coloring. As a result, most Americans think of margaritas as harbingers of hangovers, love handles and ill-advised hookups. A guilty pleasure at best.

Yet the margarita is fundamentally a great cocktail. Though it seems to have been invented as recently as 1948, its name, Spanish for "daisy," points to its kinship with the venerable branch of cocktails just as old as the martini or the Manhattan. More importantly, properly-made margaritas taste great: tart, crisp, drinkable and complex. The perfect platform for tequila and the perfect cocktail for a summer afternoon. And, of course, Cinco de Mayo.

We at HuffPost Taste do respect margaritas. But we normally make them using cheap ingredients. We've always heard that you shouldn't splurge on expensive ingredients for cocktails, because they don't really affect the taste once they're all mixed together and shaken. We were dubious though. Everyone agrees that you can tell the difference between cheap and expensive spirits when you sip them alone. Why should cocktails be any different?

So we conducted a little taste test, as we are wont to do. We gathered up six different types of tequila -- half expensive, half cheap -- and three different types of orange liqueur. Then we mixed them into 18 margaritas, all using the classic margarita ratio of two parts tequila to one part orange liqueur to 3/4 part lime juice. And we had a large panel of HuffPost employees, on and off the Taste team, tell us what they thought.

Reading through their responses, one thing became abundantly clear: expensive margaritas don't taste better than cheap ones. There was essentially no correlation between a margarita's price and the rating tasters gave it.

Indeed, one of our highest rated margaritas, the one made with Sauza tequila and DeKuyper triple sec, was the very cheapest we tried, at just $1.72 a glass. Meanwhile, one of the most expensive margaritas we mixed, one made with Avion tequila and Cointreau that cost $4.99 a glass, fell at the very bottom of our results. (For each, we calculated the total cost, in New York City, of two ounces of tequila, one ounce of orange liqueur and a lime that yields 3/4 ounce of juice.)

We didn't even find very striking trends across individual brands. No one tequila or orange liqueur produced margaritas that were rated significantly higher than any other.

But that doesn't mean that all the margaritas were the same. There was actually a huge range in people's responses to each margarita, despite the fact that they all used the same ratio of ingredients. It turns out that the factor that makes the biggest difference in a margarita's taste is the pairing of tequila and orange liqueur. Strong-tasting tequilas (like Sauza and Avion) call for strong-tasting orange liqueurs (like DeKuyper triple sec), while mild-tasting tequilas (like Milagro and Tres Generaciones) call for mild-tasting orange liqueurs (like Cointreau). To get respect, in other words, margaritas need balance.

Click through below to find out our favorite and least favorite margarita recipes, so you can be well-prepared for Cinco de Mayo celebrations this Sunday.


Taste Test: The Best Ice Pops

The competition was stiff, but our panel put these bars (known as Dreyer&aposs in the western U.S. and Edy&aposs in the East) on top for their natural taste and real bits of fruit. "It tastes like frozen fruit puree," said one judge. Unlike many brands, this one flavors its bars with real fruit and fruit juice -- and sweetens with sugar, not corn syrup. Out of 14 flavors, the cherry proved most popular: "It&aposs almost sorbetlike." ($4 for 12, at grocery stores)

BEST CREAMY

Creamsicle -- the brand that popularized the combo of vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet—has proved there&aposs nothing like an original: These beat out all the knockoffs. Judges noted "classic flavor" and "smooth consistency" compared with icy competitors. ($2.90 for 8, at grocery stores)

BEST NO SUGAR ADDED

Breyers Pure Fruit Fruit Bars No Sugar Added

Sweetened with fruit juice and the sugar substitute Splenda, these 25-calorie bars scored high for tasting "surprisingly natural" and "superfruity." While competitors seemed artificial, these stood out for "real fruit flavor" -- particularly the strawberry. One taster noted: "I loved finding real seeds in the mix." ($3.50 for 12, at grocery stores)

The Skinny Cow No Sugar Added Fudge Bar

Imagine our surprise when we uncovered the fudge bar labels and discovered this winner … a diet bar? Judges loved the "generous size" and "creamy, mousselike" texture. "It tastes like a good chocolate milk shake," said one. Added bonus: only 110 calories a pop. ($5 for 6, at grocery stores)


Taste Test: Orange Drinks

How orange-y did it taste?
The intensity of orange flavor.Overall taste
Did the drink taste artificial and synthetic or have a natural orange taste?

Bitter Aftertaste

If the bitterness was low, we gave it a low score and vice versa.Price
Value for moneySugar content
The amount of sugar per 100 ml.
Brand 1 - Real

As we enthusiastically took our first sip, we found it to be too sweet one reason could be the added sugar along with the natural fruit sugar. It was quite watery in comparison to its counterpart - Real Activ. It also seemed to have a synthetic aftertaste. To our surprise, it doesn't mention the word 'juice' on the pack, instead it uses the words - 'orange beverage'. We did like one feature about this drink, in that the warning label - 'Do not buy if the pack is puffed' was highlighted loud and clear.
Brand 2 - Real Activ

We rated it high on taste and were delighted to come across a natural orange-y kick. It was our second favorite, but it lost out on the bitter aftertaste. Since it has no added sugar or preservatives, it definitely scores more points according to our health index.
Brand 3 - Tropicana

A clear winner, it offered us a good balance between the natural orange taste, freshness and a subtle bitterness that comes with fruit. We found a thick consistency and the sweet-sour blend was spot on perfect. We were disappointed with the labeling - warnings about expiration date and puffed packs could have been highlighted better.Brand 4 - Ceres

The pack screams the word 'orange' in big bold fonts along with illustrations of the orange fruit but to our surprise, it's not just orange juice! It is actually a blend of orange, apple and pear juice. To be fair, it does mention '100% juice blend' on the pack, but then that's easy to miss. Low on taste with a bitter aftertaste, it failed to work for us.
Brand 5 - Minute Maid

We always considered Minute Maid to be good old orange juice. On closer inspection, we found the pack doesn't not mention the word 'juice', rather, it says - 'Ready to serve fruit drink.' It has a dense consistency with quite a bit of pulp but we also found some peculiar red specs floating in it. Some of the older age-group tasters thought it had an artificial taste and could do with less sugar. Brand 6 - Safal

Technically, it's not juice and nor does it claim to be. Not only does it have an unnaturally orange color, it also tastes like a soft drink without the fizz. We found the flavors to be imbalanced - it was too sweet and syrupy, and after a few sips, left a synthetic taste in the mouth. As a consumer you must read the fine print to see if you're buying an orange juice or a just an orange drink. Tell us which brand tops your list?Disclaimer
All reviews are strictly personal opinion of the authors. The same should not be construed as the opinion or policy of NDTV. Always do your own research on products and companies before using a product you choose. NDTV, its affiliates and its management does not claim responsibility for any of the products/ or companies discussed on this site.


Orange juice recipes. Get away from the plain ol' OJ.  

Fresh orange juice recipes are the best. There's nothing like it on the planet.  Great for breakfast or a juicy snack.

By law in the USA, juices in cartons must be pasteurized (heated) and when this happens, vitamins and minerals are depleted.

It’s also been brought to light more recently that the juice contains flavor packets and sit in storage facilities for a long period of time. If you love orange juice, juice your own. It’s safer and has many more health benefits.

Do not juice the rind of oranges in your orange juice recipes. They contain indigestible oils that can irritate the stomach. Peel first. I prefer to cut the peel off as I think it’s quicker, but that’s just my preference.

I love taking fresh OJ juiced with a small knob of ginger and pouring mineral water over top of it in a glass. So refreshing! But if you want some more ideas. just look below.


Although De Laurentiis' recipe did require extra steps and more time to make, the results were worth it.

The drink was refreshing and had the classic flavors of a Moscow Mule. The only thing I'd do differently is add a splash of lime juice.

But the other recipes had great qualities as well. Fuller's recipe would be delicious if I swapped tonic water for ginger beer. I'd love Zakarian's Moscow Mule if I replaced the orange juice with lime juice, and Symon's recipe just needs a bit of sweetener to tame all of that spicy ginger beer.


We make margaritas frequently in my apartment, and our recipe is similar to Zakarian’s – lime juice, tequila, orange liqueur, and agave syrup – so I was excited to give this one a taste.

Zakarian’s margarita couldn’t be easier to make. After adding salt to the rim of my glass, I added all of the ingredients into a separate measuring cup and stirred.

I typically shake my margaritas, and I would’ve preferred to do that with this margarita because it looked like the agave was settling to the bottom rather than incorporating into the drink.

Still, I was glad it took so little time to throw this cocktail together.


Criteria

We stuck with the most common varieties you'll find in the store. You know, the ones that pair well with strawberry Pop-Tarts but can pull double duty in mimosas. And while the topic of pulp is as polarizing as which type of jelly you should be using in your PB&J, we designated this as a strictly no-pulp zone.

Our testers graded the five samples in a blind tasting based on each juice's flavor (bright and, well, orangey versus dull like the stuff out of a cafeteria dispenser) and the balance of acidity and sweetness before giving an overall score.


Strawberry Soda | Taste Test

What says summer more than an ice-cold strawberry soda? Okay, perhaps it's not the first thing that comes to mind, but a bright, sweet strawberry soda can be a real pick-me-up on a hot day, especially if it's paired with a fat scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Chances are, whatever you find won't taste like actual strawberries (unless you can track down the Hot Lips version, which isn't currently being produced due to technical difficulties), but soda fanatics should be used to the industry-wide embrace of artificial flavors by now.

We collected 9 varieties of strawberry soda, tasted them blind, then ranked them from best to worst. Of course, we can't track down every soda available in the entire United States, but we do our best. If we missed your favorite, do tell us about it and why you prefer it over the competition!

The Contenders

AJ Stephans
Crush
Faygo
Filbert's
Fitz's
Jackson Hole
Jarritos
Nesbitt's
Sunkist

The Criteria

Each soda was sampled in a blind taste test and judged on the following criteria:

  • Carbonation: No one likes flat soda, but too much fizz can sting the mouth and mask flavors. In addition to the levels of initial carbonation, we also looked at how quickly these sodas lost their bubbly effervescence once emancipated from their respective bottles.
  • Sweetness: This is soda, so there should be some sweetness, but it shouldn't be so sugary as to become undrinkable. Does the sweetness taste natural, leaving your mouth feeling crisp and clean, or does it feel syrupy, coating your tongue? We rated them on a scale from "dry" to "sugar rush," and the best fell somewhere in between.
  • Overall strawberry flavor: We're not really looking for the taste of fresh strawberries here—these sodas don't even attempt to replicate it. Instead, we're measuring the balance of sugar to strawberry flavoring, and whether one overwhelms the other.

The Results

When the dust settled and the tasting rounds were over, the strawberry sodas were divided into three distinct groups. At the top, with very close scores, were the across-the-board favorites. Just below that were the polarizing ones, which some testers rated highly and others gave an emphatic thumbs-down. Unanimously disliked ones fell into the third faction, and in a first for these soda tastings, this group was comprised of only nationally available brands.

The sodas also tended to remind us of one of the following: candy, popsicles, or strawberry Jell-O. Read on to see which flavor profile was the winner!

#1. AJ Stephans (7.7/10)

Almost everyone in the tasting ranked this soda among their top three choices, for a variety of reasons. This soda deeply reminded us of strawberry Jell-O, or at least a cold, carbonated version of the liquid gelatin before it sets (what we used to call "Jell-O Juice" growing up). Sweet, but not too sweet, the sugar is cut by the intense carbonation AJ Stephans is known for. It also has a crisp finish that made it easy to take multiple sips—something not every soda in this tasting can claim.

This soda is pretty widely available in New England and along the East Coast. If you can't find it in your area, you can always order it from Galco.

#2. Nesbitt's (7.6/10)

This soda was nearly as popular as our winner. That's easy to understand when you drink the two sodas side-by-side: they have a lot in common, flavor-wise.The same strawberry Jell-O flavor dominates both beverages and made it hard to distinguish between the two.

It's possible Nesbitt's received slightly lower scores because it isn't quite as carbonated as the AJ Stephans, causing the sugar to come across a tad more predominantly. Whatever the reason, it's a very good example of a balanced, pleasant strawberry soda.

#3. Jackson Hole (7.4/10)

While Jackson Hole's strawberry soda may not have been picked as #1, just about everyone agreed that they could see themselves finishing the entire bottle.

What separates this soda from the others is the inclusion of a sour element in the form of rhubarb juice. This makes for an interesting combination that was drier than every other soda we tried, but not so dry that it became bitter. It retained a mild sweetness, and one taster remarked that it would make for a "good mixer." We'll let you decide the alcohol.

#4. Fitz's (7.3/10)

Fitz's claims the prize for "Sweetest Strawberry Soda By Far."

This soda really reminded us of candy, specifically strawberry Jolly Ranchers. The sugary strawberry aspect might come across a little too assertively for some, but for those who enjoy a bold, grab-you-by-the-throat kind of soda, this one's right up your alley.

#5. Filbert's (6.5/10)

Heading up the second tier of strawberry sodas is Filbert's offering. This Chicago company began as a milk-delivery service in the early 1900s, but switched to soda in 1926 when it shot up in popularity during Prohibition.

More than one taster picked up on notes of vanilla in both the scent and flavor of this soda. Its sweetness was around the middle of the spectrum, but there was a hint of bitterness in the aftertaste. Some tasters praised this soda's mildness, but others weren't so kind: "Tastes like watered-down Benadryl," said one.

#6. Faygo (6.4/10)

Faygo usually does well in these taste tests, but as it proved in the Grape Soda tasting, it's not above the occasional misstep. Which isn't to say their Red Pop was a total failure, because even though half the testers gave it a pass, the other half ranked it among the very best.

This was definitely one of the candylike sodas in the testing, reminding us less of strawberries and more of, say, an amalgam of strawberry and cherry Mambas. Some were reminded of cough syrup, though plenty of tasters liked the faint vanilla overtones and balance between the flavor of the soda and its sweetening agent (even if that flavor was more cherry than strawberry).

#7. Crush (5.3/10)

And now we move on to the lowest-scoring group of the taste test. Crush may be available just about everywhere in the country, but with the strawberry soda you might want to stick with something more regional.

"Sugar overload" seems to be the consensus on this soda, with a distinct lack of strawberry flavor. In fact, most testers commented that it veered closer to cherry than strawberry. It reminded us of cherry Otter Pops, which really wasn't what we were looking for in a strawberry soda. On the other hand, if that is what you're looking for in a strawberry soda, by all means grab a Crush.

#8. Sunkist (5.2/10)

The Sunkist strawberry soda is probably sitting directly next to the Crush version in your local mini-mart's cooler, but we suggest ignoring this one. A high-scorer in both the orange and grape soda taste tests, Sunkist really fell flat when going head-to-head with its strawberry competitors.

While this soda had good carbonation, it was just too syrupy for us to enjoy. The strawberry flavoring seemed especially artificial.

#9. Jarritos (3.9/10)

This Mexican-produced drink was the antithesis of what we wanted in a good strawberry soda. Overpoweringly sweet yet almost dirty-tasting, few of us could stomach more than a sip or two of it. Most of us agreed that it tasted like a watery melted cherry popsicle. The low carbonation didn't help matters.

We've liked other flavors of Jarritos when we've tried them, but we can't recommend their strawberry pop when compared with the others we tried.

What strawberry soda do you hold near and dear? Do you have a favorite to recommend?