The Search For The Perfect Glass Of O.J.

Everyone knows that fresh orange juice tastes better than the reconstituted stuff. But what exactly is the difference? The citrus-processing industry wants to know which components account for the taste of freshness so that processors can, if possible, add back key flavor components that are separated out during concentration.

Agricultural Research Service scientists Philip E. Shaw and Manuel Moshonas, along with Bela Buslig of the Florida Citrus Dept., have written a computer program that ranks juices based on a set of 25 flavor components found in fresh juice. To use the program, a technician would plug in data from the chemical analysis of a juice to rank its flavor against a data base of fresh, pasteurized, and reconstituted juices. If the juice ranked lower than desired, the technician could decide which missing components to restore to improve its flavor. Shaw hopes the system will be tested next year: "It bypasses the prejudices of one taste tester vs. another and translates a juice's quality to a point on a graph," he says.

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