Taste Test: Orange Juice, the Pulp Edition


[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

The Winners!

#1: Natalie's Orchid Island #2: Whole Foods #3: Simply

Everyone's sick or about to catch the sick bug, which makes this as good a time as any to taste orange juices. But how do you like yours—pulpy or pulpless?

Since the pulp question can be a polarizing topic—right up there with creamy vs. crunchy peanut butter—we divvied the juices up into two tastings and judged them separately. Today, the results from the pulp round.

SEHQ is pretty unanimously pro-pulp. Those big orangemeat shreds make the juice taste fresher, like it really was just squeezed, even if they do require flossing after.

The Contenders

We included brands that are widely available at major grocery stores. We tasted both pasteurized and non-pasteurized juices but no juices made from concentrate.

  1. Florida's Natural [floridasnatural]
  2. Natalie's Orchid Island Juice [orchidislandjuice.com]
  3. Organic Valley [organicvalley.coop/orange-pulp-added]
  4. Whole Foods 365 [wholefoodsmarket.com/365-everyday-value]
  5. Tropicana [tropicana.com]
  6. Trader Joe's [traderjoes.com]
  7. Simply [simplyorangejuice.com]

The Criteria

In this blind tasting, we were looking for juices that tasted fresh, not like artificial Orangeade or Hi-C, with a gentle balance of citrus tang and sweetness. Since this was the Pulp Edition, we wanted nice, plump shreds of orangemeat.

The Results

The two non-pasteurized juices, Natalie's Orchid Island and Whole Foods' 365, scored the highest in this tasting. Not a huge shocker, this also proved consistent with our grapefruit tasting, where a non-pasteurized juice won overall. Though the non-pasteurized juices have a shorter shelf life, they taste noticeably fresher, more vibrant, and like raw orange juice squeezed that day.

#1. Natalie's Orchid Island (Non-Pasteurized) 7.33/10


Natalie's juice has a pleasant sweet-acid balance. It's also extremely pulpy, which us pulp enthusiasts appreciated but others might hate. (But if you like pulp, you really like pulp, right?) "Tastes real," said one taster, which is always good newss. "Actually tastes like it came from an orange."

#2. Whole Foods 365 (Non-Pasteurized) 6.56/10


Gently sweet, though it could be tarter. Milder than Natalie's but still robustly fresh-tasting. Many juices are thick and concentrated and need diluting; this doesn't. Also, it's a pulp party.

#3. Simply 6.22/10


Labeled "High Pulp" and they really mean it. Tastes pretty standard; what you'd expect from a grocery store OJ. Both tart and sweet. Gets the job done.

#4. Florida's Natural 4.78/10


Pretty generic-tasting. The oranges don't taste especially ripe or bright. Syrupy and thick, not very tart. It's drinkable but not memorable.

#5. Tropicana 4.25/10


Anyone who grew up on Tropicana will immediately recognize that trademark Tropicana-ness: pretty sugary, a little bitter, not very fresh-tasting. "Sorta has a Sunny D thing going."

#6. Trader Joe's 4.33/10


Like the Tropicana, this carton from Trader Joe's (note: they Joe carries a few varieties of orange juice), tastes pretty grocery-store-artificial. One taster picked up on a funny aftertaste, too.

#7. Organic Valley 3.67/10


Their milk is great, but OV just didn't score well in the OJ department. Thin, flat, both too sweet and too acidic. There's a whiff of something tropical that doesn't belong. "I associate this taste with bad restaurant breakfasts." And nobody wants to relive those memories.

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