Grapefruit juice runs the gamut in terms of tartness and sweetness. We put five nationally available brands to the test to see if we could find a well-balanced juice.
Published Aug. 1, 2014. Appears in Cook's Country TV Season 15: Seafood Two Ways
To find out which grapefruit juice is best, we rounded up five nationally available products and poured glasses for 21 America’s Test Kitchen staffers. Right away, tasters zeroed in on texture and rated two juices low for being thin and watery. Even though both juices are sold ready to drink, they’re made from reconstituted concentrate, which tasters perceived as watered-down and diluted. Tasters ranked not-from-concentrate juices higher for their fuller body and fresher tang.
When it came to flavor, there were drastic differences even though four out of five products contain just one ingredient: grapefruit juice (the fifth adds juice concentrates from other fruits). Why? Grapefruits come in a range of varieties, each with its own distinct taste and color. So we asked each manufacturer what variety of grapefruit it uses to make its juice.
One overly tart product is made with all white grapefruits, and many tasters found it too “pithy” and “harsh.” At the other end of the spectrum, another product was too sweet; it’s made with pink and Ruby Red grapefruits but also concentrates from sweeter fruits like grapes and apples. The result was a product closer to “fruit punch” than to grapefruit juice. Tasters found it “candy-like” and “syrupy”—far too sweet.
While a few companies wouldn’t disclose what kind of grapefruit they use, the manufacturer of our favorite juice told us that it uses a mix of citrusy pink grapefruits and sweet Ruby Reds; the result is a juice that is “balanced” and “drinkable,” sweet but not cloyingly so, and bitter but not astringent.
We also got a read on sweetness from nutrition labels; since no manufacturer adds sweeteners, all sugars came from fruit. Our top products contain between 20 and 25 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving. Juices with sugar levels outside that range were either too bitter or too sweet for our tasters. At 22 grams of sugar per serving, our top pick fell solidly in the middle with a nicely balanced sweetness.
We were able to recommend three of the five juices and tasters agreed that one was outstanding. Our winner took top honors for its “balanced,” “refreshing” blend of pink and Ruby Red grapefruits and its “fresh-squeezed” taste. In fact, our winner's processing methods are about as close to fresh-squeezed as possible: The company squeezes its grapefruits—all grown locally near its facility in Florida—within 24 hours of receiving each order. The maker of our winning grapefruit juice also manufactures our winning orange juice and lemonade.
The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing.