The goal of this article is to highlight some of the differences between processed fruit ingredients that are “Not from Concentrate” (NFC) versus “From Concentrate” (FC) aseptic purees and juices.
First, let’s think about our own experiences with fresh fruits that we buy at the grocery store or from our local farmer’s market. When you leave a mango, pineapple, or peaches out on your kitchen counter, you’ll invariably notice an abundance of aroma as it ripens. Specific fruit species and varieties will create their own mix of volatile compounds such as esters, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, lactones, and terpenoids and apocarotenoids.
Many fruits have a very high water content, typically 70-90+ %. In the interest of increasing shelf life and reducing storage and transportation costs, some companies opt for concentrated purees and juices. For example, if you’re making a concentrated orange juice, the orange is squeezed and heated under a vacuum evaporator to create a condensed product of roughly 5x less volume.
However, not only is the water removed – compounds other than water are also removed, resulting in diminished flavor and smell.
To get around this problem of diminished flavor and smell in the concentrated products, companies can purchase recovered aromas and flavors, which are then added back to enhance the overall sensory perception. These “Flavor Houses” are a big business, and dominate many mass produced products.
Another possibility is to take a frozen, concentrated puree, and repackage it into a single-strength aseptic puree. However, taking a frozen, concentrated product and diluting it with water to create a single-strength product does nothing to add back those lost volatile compounds.
From a quality perspective, both frozen and aseptic purees and juices that are NFC are generally superior for retaining their organoleptic qualities. Albeit, NFC’s are typically more expensive.
By finding out if your fruit purees and juices are FC or NFC, you’ll be better able to evaluate your ingredients and their overall value proposition in terms of price and quality.