Over the past several years, tart cherry juice and cherry juice concentrate have caught the attention of television personalities, radio hosts, health related internet sites and countless individuals looking for natural ways to fight joint pain. As the interest in this ruby-red super fruit continues to increase, this also means more and more companies are selling tart cherry juice concentrate.
While increased competition is a good thing for the consumer, additional competition also brings confusion into the market and “me, too” companies. This could mean many of these companies are simply “selling into the trend” and will probably move-on to the next big health product as soon as it becomes available, while in the meantime, they will sell anything with the words “cherry” or “tart cherry” on the label. Some of these “me, too” products may have a difficult time being able to measure up to the original superiority of pure products.
The purpose of this post to provide additional information about tart cherry juice concentrate and the important areas to consider when purchasing this great-tasting super fruit drink. Hopefully, this additional information will provide the customer with the information they need to know exactly what they are purchasing and quality cherry juice concentrate will be the first choice for fighting joint pain naturally. So this tasty drink won’t fall by the wayside and this post will help to stop the death of tart cherry juice concentrate due to confusion in the marketplace.
Why is this Post Important?
Over the years we have received a number of questions about the natural health benefits of cherries. While we do offer a free downloadable book explaining the natural health benefits of tart cherries and tart cherry juice, this guide focuses on what to look for when purchasing tart cherry juice concentrate and other tart cherry-based products.
To learn about the specific natural health benefits of tart cherries and download the free guide entitled: Official Tart Cherry Health Report
This brief informational post is a result of our 14+ years in the cherry juice industry. The information is this special post is for informational purposes only and is based upon our own experience, opinions and observations. Use this information to make educated decisions when purchasing tart cherry juice concentrate products. So let’s get started…
Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate
According the material published by experts in the cherry industry, it takes the juice of approximately 100 tart cherries to make just one ounce of tart cherry juice concentrate.
Based upon our experience in the cherry industry over the past 14+ years, we believe there are five areas that consumers should be aware of when comparing and selecting tart cherry juice concentrate.
Below are the five areas we believe individuals should consider:
- Type of cherry that is used to produce the juice
- The quality of the tart cherry juice concentrate
- Taste of the tart cherry juice – Potential plastic leaching
- Packaging of the cherry juice
- Sediment-free guarantee
Type of Cherry that is used to Produce the Juice:
A number of different varieties or types of cherries exist in the market today. Here is a brief overview of some of the different types of cherries available.
These include sweet, balaton, maraschino, tart, etc. Although all of these types are from the cherry family, however much of research published in the last 10 years or so about the naturally occurring health benefits of cherries has been conducted on the tart variety, including the Montmorency cherry. While this is not to suggest other research hasn’t been conducted on other varieties of cherries, including the sweet cherry, however, a lot of the published research has been conducted using the tart cherry.
One of the best ways to know if you’re getting Montmorency cherries in your cherry juice concentrate product is to look on the label of the product itself.
Action Step #1: If it is not printed on the label of the product, ask the company you’re purchasing from the send you, in writing, a statement they are only using U.S.A. grown Montmorency tart cherries in their cherry juice products.
The Quality of the Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate:
Unfortunately, not all tart cherry juice concentrate products are the same. The first area to consider and is important in the overall quality of the final products is the brix count. Brix (pronounced bricks) is one of the measurements of the overall quality of tart cherry juice concentrate. The brix is the measurement of the amount of naturally occurring sugar in the cherry juice. Cherry juice is usually measured at 68 brix. Be sure to be aware of the brix level in any cherry juice concentrate product you buy and try make sure it is of 68 brix. The brix information should be printed on the product label or published on the website. If the brix level of a concentrate is lower than 68 brix, you should inquiry why this number is less than the 68 marker.
Action Step: If it is not printed on the label of the product, ask the company you’re purchasing from the send you, in writing, a statement they are only using 68 brix U.S.A. grown Montmorency tart cherries in their cherry juice concentrate products.
Taste of the Cherry Juice – Reflected by the Crispness of the Flavor:
Like any other consumable product you would purchase, taste is very important. Cherry juice is no exception. Cherry juice offers a number of options and is available in a number of different sizes and bottles. For example, you can get cherry juice in plastic bottles, aluminum cans, cardboard single shot containers and glass bottles. Based upon the information available from our own research and observations the aluminum containers and cardboard singles shot containers are lined with a plastic film.
While this has been our experience with a number of cherry juice products, there may be aluminum cans and cardboard single shot containers not lined in plastic, but we aren’t aware of any. The best way to determine this is ask the company which you are potentially buying cherry juice in aluminum cans or single shot containers if they are lined with a plastic film prior to your purchase.
Now back to the glass containers, one of the main benefits of drinking cherry juice from a glass bottle is that glass bottles help to prevent plastic leaching. Plastic leaching or migration is a well-known fact in the food industry. Leaching occurs when a product is bottled in a plastic container and the food actually pulls or “leaches” plastic molecules from the bottle directly into the food.
According to postdoctoral fellow in biology at Tufts University in Boston, Laura Vandenberg, PhD, “But almost any plastic container can be expected to leach trace amounts of plastics into food,” she says. 1
In addition, food research knowledge seems to point to the fact the process of “leaching” may also increase when acidic, salty or fatty foods are packaged in plastic. While additional research is required to determine exactly how much this increases the amount of migration, common sense suggestions the less plastic touching food the better. Fortunately, leaching is not a concern for cherry juice packed in glass bottles.
Action Step: Ask the company to explain the difference between cherry juice concentrate packed in glass bottle verse plastic bottles. Also, consider asking about “plastic leaching” if the cherry juice concentrate is packed in glass bottles.
Product Stability of the Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate:
Product stability is vital not only for shipping purposes but also storage. The majority of companies selling cherry juice are selling cold-packed cherry juice that is bottled in plastic bottles. Cold-packed simply means the cherry juice concentrate is actually pumped from the 52-gallon drum individually into each bottle.
Hot-packed cherry juice is removed from the 52-gallon drum, flashed pasteurized and then bottled into individual bottles. This additional food safety step of flash pasteurization helps to eliminate any potential contaminate that be introduced into the product when the original seal of the 52-gallon drum is broken. Also, one additional item is cherry juice concentrate stored in 52-gallon drums is pasteurized prior to storage.
Being cold-packed this usually means the product should probably be refrigerated during shipping and storage. In fact, many cold-packed cherry juice products have printed directly on the label a statement like the following: “Must refrigerate upon arrival. Please store in your refrigerator or freezer.”
You can either purchase cherry juice concentrate from your local grocery store or online, you may find the same brand locally or available directly from the company online.
What is interesting about cherry juice concentrate in plastic bottles is if you find it is available at your local grocery store, it may usually be found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Yet, if you order the same product online, the manufacturer will freely ship the same cherry juice concentrate found in the refrigerator of your local grocery store across the country in unrefrigerated cardboard boxes with statements saying the product must be refrigerated when the product is received. This simply doesn’t make since. It would be similar to shipping a bottle of orange juice from New Jersey to Texas in a cardboard box and asking the customer to place it in the refrigerator when it arrives.
Unlike cold-packed cherry juice, hot-packed cherry juice concentrate packed in glass bottles can be stored unrefrigerated, however, just like other food products it does need to be refrigerated once the product is opened.
Action Step: When ordering tart cherry juice concentrate ask the company if the product is packaged in plastic bottles. If so, ask them why it isn’t shipped in a refrigerated container including individual ice packets.
Sediment-Free Guarantee: Sedimentation is a concern for many cherry juice concentrate drinkers. Sedimentation occurs when the concentrate breaks apart and thick residue settles on the bottom of the bottle. Sedimentation may be a result of several factors, but not limited to:
- Poor quality tart cherry juice concentrate
- Aged tart cherry juice concentrate
- Poor bottling process
- Poor shipping and storage
Action Step: Ask if the cherry juice concentrate that offer a sediment-free guarantee. If not, why not.
Tart Cherry Health Report – Free Download
Webmd.com – Pots, Pans, and Plastics: A Shopper’s Guide to Food Safety