We tried 9 brands of the pulp-free variety.
Credit: Photo: Randy Mayor

Nothing compares to the flavor of fresh-squeezed orange juice from fruit in its prime for a very good reason: A fair amount of processing goes into not-from-concentrate OJ. Most cartons contain the pooled juices from oranges harvested anywhere from Florida to Brazil, squeezed, pasteurized, and stored for up to a year. That's why, when we threw a glass of the fresh stuff into the tasting, it was unanimously picked as the favorite. But among the boxes are some standouts—and they turned out to be the big national brands.

WINNER: Florida's Natural, $2.98 (64 ounces)
This OJ's fresh flavor and balanced bitter-to-sweet punch truly mimicked the fresh-squeezed thing. Perhaps that's because the oranges are grown and processed by a small co-op of Florida farmers.(4 ounces: 55 calories; 11g sugar; 60% vitamin C)

RUNNER-UP: Tropicana Pure Premium, $3.39 (64 ounces)
The sweetest OJ of our group may have looked light and smooth, but we were surprised by its full-bodied burst of flavor. It also had a fresh-squeezed aroma. (4 ounces: 55 calories; 11g sugar; 60% vitamin C)

A panel of Cooking Light staff attended one blind tasting of nine brands of pulp-free, 100 percent pure squeezed orange juice, none from concentrate.