How Is Orange Juice Produced Commercially
Orange juice – the standard “liquid sunshine” consumed daily by almost the entire population of our country, is so popular that we gulp down around 1 million gallon of the juice every year! And obviously with the “on the go” lifestyle that we have gotten ourselves accustomed to, most of the OJ we drink is from a can rather than from the home juicer. Ever wondered how all these packaged orange juice is produced, if yes then read on and find out how orange juice is produced in most of the commercial juice manufacturing units.
Picking: For this a sample of the oranges is first analyzed for its sugar and acid content, once the sugar content is at least 10%, the oranges are ready to be picked. Many big farmers use huge orange harvesters called “continuous canopy shaker”, which can harvest more than 2 tons of oranges every minute.
Grading: Delicious orange juice comes from delicious oranges, this only makes choosing the right oranges for juicing all the more important. The oranges once picked are washed under a jet of water and then graded according to the shape, size, and color of the oranges.
Extraction: Once graded the best of the lot are sent into the juice extractor machine via large conveyor belts. In the extractor unit oranges are dropped onto a series of metal prongs, which squeeze out the juice from the oranges. As the orange peel is full of bitter oils, the extractor unit is so designed that the peel runs down outside of the fruit and does not enter the juice stream.
Clarification: The OJ thus obtained is not crystal clear and contains small bits of the pulp. This juice is then centrifuged, which separates out all the pulp and clear juice is ready.
Reconstitution: The orange juice drinking population is bitterly divided into those whole like their OJ clear and those who prefer the goodness of fiber into it. For latter category, the clear OJ is then reconstituted with processed orange pulp in particular percentage. You might ask why take the pains of clarifying if it needs to be reconstituted anyways –the magic word is Standardization. This is done so that you get the same amount of pulp in every container of juice that you buy.
Additional Processing: Vitamin C – the nutrient so commonly associated with orange juice is highly sensitive to oxygen. Hence, the orange juice is sprayed into a vacuum chamber after all the processing. This deaerates/ removes all the entrapped air from the juice and minimizes destruction of Vitamin C. Some manufacturers prefer to add some quantity of synthetic ascorbic acid to make up for the vitamin C loss during storage.
Packing: The juice is now ready to be poured into cartons. The cartons or bottles used for packing orange juice are hermetically (completely) sealed to ensure purity and avoid leakage or contamination. Usually manufacturers prefer opaque cartons or bottle to prevent the juice from getting exposed to sun – many nutrients in the juice are destroyed by sunlight. After packing, the cartons are labeled and sent for tasting.
Tasting: Just like professional wine tasters there are OJ tasters who rate every batch of orange juice on a series of parameters. Only when a batch of orange juice passes all these parameters is it shipped out for you to buy it and savor it over your breakfast table.
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