To concentrate or not to concentrate – that is the question… that we, at Spindrift, don’t have to ask. If you’ve ever wondered why we put “real squeezed fruit” on our cans, it’s because, of course, we’re proud of the fruit we use. But it’s also our way of saying our juice is “never from concentrate.”
What is a concentrate?
To make a concentrate of something, you decrease its volume. You do this by removing the water from it—leaving behind something denser, stronger, or simply less diluted. The most common way to create concentrates is by evaporation.
A “fruit juice concentrate” is fruit juice that has had the water removed from it. Since fruit juice is mostly made of water, in order to concentrate it, you’ve got to remove a lot of water. You do that through the method of evaporation: boiling the water out of the juice until only the fruit compound remains.
You can think of it in cooking terms. When you’re making, say, a sauce and you want it to be a bit thicker, you boil it a little longer. As the sauce boils, the water bubbles and becomes steam, and voila – eventually the consistency of the sauce in the pot gets thicker. Leave it boiling a little too long and, well, it gets much thicker. Which may make for a delicious sauce, but may also make for a more “cooked” taste.
Why concentrate juice?
In short: it’s efficient! Originally, the process of fruit juice concentrate was created in order to ship juice cross-country easily—without the need to refrigerate or pasteurize. Concentrates were created originally as a way to provide reliable source of vitamin-C to troops during World War II.
Today, many companies use fruit juice concentrate in their products because it extends the shelf life of the product. Since the water is removed, you can store concentrates in much smaller containers, which reduces shipping and long-term storage costs. You just have to add the water (and sometimes flavor) back to make it into juice again.
One thing we know about fruit is – temperature is its friend and its enemy. Warm sun, ripening the fruit on the vine? Yes. A tomato or banana sitting on the counter for a few days to ripen gently in room temperature – sure. But keep the fruit out in warm temperatures until it’s overripe, and it starts to taste off. Since you make concentrates through evaporation, you heat fruit to a boil. That high temperatures breaks down the fruit and you can really taste the difference. (Sometimes that’s great – apple pie, for instance, tastes pretty different from a fresh-picked apple. And, the more you heat it, the further from fresh-picked it tastes.)
But if you want the fruit you’re using to taste as much like fresh-picked fruit as possible – you don’t want to heat it. Heating alters the taste, aroma, and color of that fresh juice.
What do you use at Spindrift?
At Spindrift, we use real juice, never from concentrate. We do this for several reasons. Firstly, a logistical reason. Since our final product is a sparkling water, removing water from the fruit to, then, add it back at the end would be counter-productive. Juicy, water-filled fruit is fine for our product because we want it to be that way!
Another important reason is: taste. We want Spindrift to taste exactly like the real fruit we use. During the evaporation process, the heat can damage the fruit’s fresh aroma, taste, and color. You lose that fresh, delicious taste that just-picked fruit has. So we keep our fruit away from heat so we preserve its taste.
If you’ve ever used the juice of a plastic lemon instead of a fresh-squeezed lemon, you know exactly what we’re talking about. The juice you squeeze yourself just tastes better. Especially when it comes from the freshest, ripest fruit. We work with family farms throughout the US to ensure we’re using the most delicious fruit available. The quality of the fruit directly impacts the taste – and that matters to us.
Speaking of quality, when you make concentrates— the fruit-quality doesn’t really matter. Since it’s all getting condensed, the fruit that goes into the concentrate doesn’t need to be as high-quality as something you’d juice and use outright. You can use just about any fruit when you’re just going to boil it down anyway.
All in all, that’s a lot of additional processing; the adding, subtracting, warming, cooling, mixing, handling. The fruit goes through so much before you finally get to enjoy it. But with Spindrift, we like to keep it simple and delicious.
We keep processing to a minimum when we make Spindrift. When fruit is your only ingredient, you want to let it speak for itself. By using real, squeezed juice, we preserve that flavorful, rich taste of real, squeezed fruit and have it shine through in all of our products.