Why Is Orange Juice Yellow? (Types Of OJ, Colors + More)

You tend to observe the little things when you’re out on the terrace sipping an ice-cold glass of citrus beverage—its tanginess, its texture, and its quirks.

You’re bound to notice that your favorite drink has the name of a color it isn’t. So why is orange juice yellow? Here’s what I found out about it!

Why Is Orange Juice Yellow?

Store-bought orange juice is yellow because of flavor pigments added when it was processed to extend shelf life. On the other hand, freshly squeezed orange juice is mainly orange in color, but it can be yellow to red depending on the season and variety. The colors of orange juice vary due to the natural pigment which has an unstable structure.

If you want more information about why orange juice is yellow, why it changes color, and much more, then check this out!

What is the color of Orange Juice?

Orange juice can range in color from red to yellow. The type of orange used and the amount of natural pigment contribute to the color payoff of the extracted liquid.

Freshly squeezed OJ is mostly bright orange in color. This indicates its freshness and quality. However, some take on a different hue.

For instance, juice extract from blood oranges is red-orange because of high levels of pigment. Cara-Cara orange juice has a slight pink tinge to it, while others are a clear juice.

Why Is Store-Bought Orange Juice Yellow?

Your store-bought orange juice is yellow and not orange because of the colorings added to ensure uniformity and consistency.

Fresh orange juice can either be light yellow or deep orange. It is light yellow when it is harvested early. On the other hand, the deep orange hue emerges in late harvest extracts.

Because store-bought orange juice comes from extracts harvested all year round, the colors are inconsistent. To make up for this, companies mix and match the juices together to create a uniform shade.

Additionally, they include vivid yellow pigments in the mix for a more attractive hue.

Why is Tropicana Orange Juice Yellow?

Tropicana orange juice is yellow because it contains certain additives to help extend shelf life and to appear more attractive to consumers.

Since Tropicana is store-bought, it goes without saying that it requires preservatives to last in storage. As such, the yellow color is due to these preservatives rather than the natural pigment OJ contains.

Why Is My Orange Juice Brown?

There are two possible reasons why your orange juice is brown.

It may be because your OJ is brimming over with vitamin C which, when subjected to degradation, turns brown. In addition to this, the combination of ascorbic acid and the natural pigment of the juice known as carotenoid causes a reaction.

Additionally, your orange juice may be brown if it has long gone bad. It might be past its expiration date or it was left out for too long in warm temperatures.

Does Orange Juice Change Color?

Yes, orange juice changes color.

However, this is dependent on the temperature in which it was stored and the concentration of organic pigments known as carotenoids present in the formula.

Carotenoids have an unstable structure and the color they give off depends on the storage and the juice’s exposure to air.

For this reason, freshly squeezed OJ sports a healthy orange hue indicative of its quality, while processed orange juice can range from yellow to brown.

Is A Glass Of Orange Juice Transparent?

No, a glass of orange juice should not be transparent but opaque.

If your orange juice is noticeably separating, then it’s a sign you should throw it out the window as it has already gone bad and is not safe for drinking.

What Makes Orange Juice Cloudy?

Why Is Orange Juice Yellow?

Orange juice is cloudy if it is still fresh and safe for consumption. It is a sign that the solid particles combine well with their liquid counterpart.

In addition, some OJ has extra pulp in the mix which makes the drink even cloudier.

An enzyme present in orange and citrus, in general, can cause juice cloud breakdown which can de-cloud the OJ and initiate the spoiling process.

What Does Expired Orange Juice Look Like?

Expired orange juice looks dark in color, and may even turn brown.

When you pour spoiled OJ into a transparent glass, you can easily spot the dark particles floating in the liquid. These are mold and sometimes pulp that has deteriorated.

If you want to learn more about orange juice, you can see our related posts on why orange juice separates, if orange juice is carbonated, and whether orange juice ferments.


Orange juice is mostly yellow but it can vary depending on the type.

For instance, commercial orange juice is mainly yellow in color because of additional pigment for a more attractive, uniform look.

On the other hand, freshly squeezed orange juice can be light yellow to red depending on the type of orange used and when it was harvested.

However, OJ should never be brown as it means that a chemical reaction has already taken place making the drink unfit for consumption.

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