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Four-hour old lime juice tastes better than fresh


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#1 Chris Hennes

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 03:38 PM

This just in from Cooking Issues: according to a blind test done by Dave Arnold and the lastest graduates of the BAR program, slightly-aged lime juice was overwhelmingly judged superior to fresh. From the article:

I don’t know why the 4 hour juice tasted better. Clearly we need to run more tests. What is the optimum aging time? Don’t know yet. Maybe the bartender I met at Tales will step up, reveal his identity, and give us his results.

Some tasters commented that that the aged juices not only tasted better, but had more of an acid bite. If this is true, making a well balanced pre-batched lime drink several hours before service will result in an unbalanced, overly acidic drink at service time.

What are your thoughts on this? If you work at a bar that juices all your citrus ahead, do you find that the drinks at the end of the night taste better than those at the beginning? Any guesses as to what is going on here?

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#2 nickrey

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 05:03 PM

snip... do you find that the drinks at the end of the night taste better than those at the beginning?


Now there's a minefield. :wink:

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#3 KD1191

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 08:39 PM

I wonder if there's a certain amount of selection bias involved...how many of these bartenders work in a bar where juice is squeezed a la minute? Probably none. If so, wouldn't it make sense that they'd think there was something off about the fresher juice? They're accustomed to mixing with juice that's at least an hour old if not longer...

Edited by KD1191, 02 October 2010 - 08:39 PM.

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#4 Chris Hennes

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 09:18 PM

I'd buy that if Dave Arnold hadn't also participated. His palate is pretty good, and certainly he is used to using absolutely fresh juice.

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#5 KD1191

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Posted 02 October 2010 - 10:05 PM

I'd buy that if Dave Arnold hadn't also participated.

Did he? It's late, and I may be missing it, but I can't tell from the text of the post that Dave participated in the tasting, or what (if any) his personal opinions were on which sample he preferred.

I made a similar comment to the one above on the original post, to which Dave's comment was simply, "Good Point."

As with most CI posts, this is something that's "To Be Continued", I assume.

Edited by KD1191, 02 October 2010 - 10:07 PM.

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#6 Chris Amirault

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Posted 03 October 2010 - 05:45 AM

Just posted a couple questions (why limeade and not straight or in a mixed drink; how did participants describe "better"?).

I've got a shift tonight and we're gonna be doing experiments!!
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#7 Chris Amirault

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 05:32 AM

Fiddled around a bit at 9p last night with three different lime juices: one from brunch (10 hours old), one from start of shift (4 hours), and one from a lime that was room temp that I squeezed just before tasting. I tasted all of them straight, and all were hand-squeezed. Apologies in advance for the poor descriptive language.

The fresh lime juice was cleaner and tasted more tart, less sweet. It tasted more like "lime juice" to me than the other two batches. It wasn't bitter at all.

The 4-hour juice was quite different but still very pleasant to me. It had a distinct tropical, even coconutty quality, less sharp and more, um, round. The flavor was similar to the taste of limes that are a bit older, starting to get slightly brown in spots and slightly hollow in the interior. It seemed somewhat more complex than the fresh lime juice, but in a way that, in my mouth, felt less like "lime juice." However, it was certainly tasty.

The 9 hour old juice was distinctly unpleasant. It had all of the bitter aspects and none of the nuances of the other two juices. I tossed it.

This all makes me think that the oxidation process goes through two stages: an initial stage (within the first 3-4 hours) that's significant but not unpleasant, and, 10-12 hours later, a secondary stage that continues the oxidation past the point of decent flavor. Of course, if you're a bartender, you rarely taste lime juice that's 10-12 hours old, and it's quite possible that the 3-4 hour juice is a more common reference point.

I'll be interested to read more about what people find as they fiddle with this -- Dave Arnold in particular.
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#8 weinoo

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 05:38 AM

When you say "hand-squeezed," Chris, what device are you using. I use an orange-x press, which gets more of the juice than one of those true "hand-held" squeezers. But nor any of the pith, like one gets when one uses an electric juicer )the pith, I feel, is the true culprit).
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#9 Chris Amirault

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 06:19 AM

Standard issue Amco enameled lime juicer.
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#10 Tri2Cook

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 08:53 AM

I'll be interested to read more about what people find as they fiddle with this -- Dave Arnold in particular.

I'm interested in watching this develop as well. It's put questions in my head regarding lime juice in pastry applications where it's not cooked. I've never considered the implications of making a fresh lime mousse or ice cream the day before it's needed. I've never done a taste test of a lime mousse or ice cream made the day before vs. one that just went into the molds or just came out of the batch freezer. If an old sour mix tastes old, then maybe an old mousse tastes old as well and I've just never realized it because they're pretty much always made ahead. Hmmm.
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#11 mkayahara

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 09:09 AM

To me, one of the most interesting comments on Dave's post is that some of the tasters thought the 4-hour lime juice tasted more acidic. I've always been suspicious of the rule of thumb that lime juice in batched drinks tastes more acidic because of the volume - that never made sense to me. But if this finding is true, then it suggests that it's not the volume of juice in batched drinks that changes the balance, but the age, since batched drinks are almost by definition prepared in advance.
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#12 Kent Wang

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 05:17 PM

But pre-batching is different from plain aging as as it exposes the lime to alcohol.

#13 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 09:12 AM

But pre-batching is different from plain aging as as it exposes the lime to alcohol.


I have experienced something similar with a pre-batch cocktail that I had to prepare for an event. It was Captain Vadrna's Grog, a tiki concoction containing lime and grapefruit juices. To see the effect of aging on the drink, I also prepared it fresh and compared fresh and aged (24 hours in the fridge) versions side-by-side. I also gave it to my husband to try without telling him which glass contained the fresh version.

We both agree that the aged drink tasted harsher, less balanced. My husband initially thought that I had used a different type of grapefruit juice for the two versions - he thought the aged version used normal white grapefruit because it was more intense, and that the fresh version was from an Oro Blanco grapefruit that I often use and is milder than the normal white grapefruit. When I told him that the only difference was the age and he guessed incorrectly, expecting that the cocktail would mellow over time and that the aged version would be smoother. It was actually the opposite and we both preferred the fresh version.

A little bit of extra sugar syrup should improve the aged version.

One of the main flavor components in lime and grapefruit juices is limonene. One possibility is that what we are experiencing the oxidation of limonene producing other volatile compounds that change the flavor profile. Another possibility is that the limonene may be more stable than other more delicate flavors in the juice, and that by aging the juice we now mostly taste limonene. I have not done too much research on the topic, but I tend to favor the second option because limonene has a very strong flavor that is associated with cleaning products (Pledge). There has not been any activity on this thread for the past 2 years or so, and I am curious to see if new information is available on this topic.

#14 Katie Meadow

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 10:05 AM

I have absolutely nothing scientific to contribute, but my experiences with fresh squeezed citrus juice have led me to the conviction that the fresher it is the better, and even an hour or two can make for a an off flavor or just less brightness in the taste. Since I am no bartender here and all citrus juices squeezed for cocktails are used immediately, I'm really talking about juice that is for drinking straight or in "ades" or for cooking or sauces. In fact, ever since a couple of very obvious deteriorations several years ago, I'm practically phobic about not letting citrus juice sit around. Pledge. Eww.

#15 bostonapothecary

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 10:16 AM

i think what you are experiencing is the little known phenomenon of delayed enzymatic bittering.

i came across this notion when i developed the keg cocktail idea years back. one of the experiments i did was to store only lemon juice in an oxygen purged keg for a few days. even without oxygen the lemon juice developed many of the inharmonious characteristics we associate with citrus juice that is past its prime.

a great paper was written on the subject that is called "in a jam and out of juice" and is a guide for biotechnology students. for some reason i cannot find a link to the free PDF. the paper is short and simple and explains most of the phenomenons in language intelligible to the non scientist.


many bars that are using the keg cocktail technique are not being sensitive to this phenomenon.

when i batch, i always add citrus at the last minute, and when i keg with citrus for events and such, when applicable i plan on running out and making the last rounds a la minute.
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#16 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 12:43 PM

i think what you are experiencing is the little known phenomenon of delayed enzymatic bittering.

i came across this notion when i developed the keg cocktail idea years back. one of the experiments i did was to store only lemon juice in an oxygen purged keg for a few days. even without oxygen the lemon juice developed many of the inharmonious characteristics we associate with citrus juice that is past its prime.

a great paper was written on the subject that is called "in a jam and out of juice" and is a guide for biotechnology students. for some reason i cannot find a link to the free PDF. the paper is short and simple and explains most of the phenomenons in language intelligible to the non scientist.


many bars that are using the keg cocktail technique are not being sensitive to this phenomenon.

when i batch, i always add citrus at the last minute, and when i keg with citrus for events and such, when applicable i plan on running out and making the last rounds a la minute.


Very interesting. Is it this paper? I did not have time to study it in detail but it includes this information on page 10:

Unlike naringin, limonin is not found in intact fruit. However, freshly-squeezed citrus juice can turn bitter after only a few hours as limonin is formed by natural chemical reactions (so-called ‘delayed bitterness’). This reaction is enhanced when the fresh fruit juice is pasteurized.



#17 bostonapothecary

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 01:24 PM

Very interesting. Is it this paper? I did not have time to study it in detail but it includes this information on page 10:

Unlike naringin, limonin is not found in intact fruit. However, freshly-squeezed citrus juice can turn bitter after only a few hours as limonin is formed by natural chemical reactions (so-called ‘delayed bitterness’). This reaction is enhanced when the fresh fruit juice is pasteurized.


awesome. that's the one.
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#18 Adam George

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Posted 18 August 2012 - 05:00 AM

First time, poster here - I will update my profile at some point - thanks very much for this link, it prove an interesting read.

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#19 rod rock

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 05:15 AM

For which one link you are talking about Adam George?

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#20 Adam George

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 09:46 AM

This one

http://www.ncbe.read...m/pdf/jam01.pdf

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#21 rod rock

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 06:03 AM

Ah, you are talking about FrogPrincesse's post :)

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#22 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 03:14 PM

Regarding the topic of citrus juice and general citrus handling for cocktails, here is the latest update from Kevin Liu on Serious Eats. His article gives a lot of food for thoughts. It is a continuation of many discussions that have happened on eG and elsewhere in the past. I am not sure that I agree with all the conclusions, but at least he has made an effort to reference his sources.

 

Going over the main points of the article:

 

1. Fresh is not always best

I'm still a bit on the fence regarding that one. It's one thing to taste the juices in isolation, but are the conclusions the same when they are tasted in a cocktail? In the now famous experiment by Dave Arnold the juice was tasted neat and his panel preferred the aged lime juice. However I've had opposite observations when tasting grapefruit juice in a pre-batched cocktail: the aged cocktail tasted worse than the freshly made cocktail. Was this because the fresh juice tastes better in a mixed drink? Because citrus juice ages differently in a pre-batched cocktail? Because grapefruit behaves differently from lime? Or maybe there is such a thing as too much aging (4 hours vs. 9 hours) as Chris suggested upthread? In the follow-up comments after his article, Dave Arnold mentions that 4 to 6 hours may be optimal.

I would like to see a simple comparison of two freshly made cocktails, one with aged juice, one with fresh juice. I am sure someone has done this already.

 

2. Store citrus in the refrigerator, prep it in the microwave

I would expect that heating the citrus would impact its taste. It does not seem like a common practice to me. In the comments after the article, Kevin recognizes in  that the microwaved citrus produced a juice that "tasted less aromatic than fresh equivalents" so I don't think that this practice is recommended.

Also, the practice of rolling the limes on the counter, which is discounted in the article, softens the skin and makes it easier to use a hand-held juicer without having juice squirting out all over - I speak from experience. :smile:

 

3. Lemon and lime juice are not interchangeable.

There is no debate about this one; adjustments are needed when substituting limes for lemons in recipes. The article states that limes are slightly more acidic (is this correct?) and contains less sugar compared to lemons (this is confirmed by many sources), which would suggest that you need to use more sugar when using limes. Based on experience however, it seems that it may be the opposite. A rule of thumb discussed by Sam Ross in this article is that for 3/4 oz of simple syrup you will need 3/4 oz of lemon juice or 1 oz or lime juice for a typical sour. Also I've seen typical pH levels quoted at 2.4 for limes and 2.3 for lemons, so lemons may be more acidic than limes. I think this requires more research.

 

4. Twists: Get their oils out!

No debate from me on that point.

 

5. For faster drinks, use an atomizer

He recommends using lemon extract in a bottle rather than a twist. But he is the first to recognize that the aroma will be affected... ("In my experience, commercial lemon extract doesn't quite match up to a real lemon peel, but it's worth it for the convenience value."). I will stick to real lemon peels.

 

 6. Or use frozen juice

This is not recommended either ("don't expect it to be the same as freshly-squeezed").

 

7. Or pre-make infused citrus syrup

(aka oleo-saccharum).

Here he summarizes Jeff Morgenthaler's finding that oleo-saccharum can be made without muddling, just letting time do its thing. It's a good tip and oleo-saccharum has it use in punch. It's not a substitute for juice tough.

 

8. Citrus flavors don't only come from citrus

I've recently tried tamarind but did not get the intensity I get from lemon or lime and it ended up diluting the drink. There are interesting ideas for other citrus flavors in the article.