- Squash (drink)
Squash (also called cordial) is a non-alcoholic concentrated syrup that is usually fruit-flavoured and usually made from fruit juice, water, and sugar or a sugar substitute. Modern squashes may also contain food colouring and additional flavouring. Some traditional squashes contain herbal extracts, most notably elderflower and ginger.
Citrus fruits (particularly orange, lime and lemon) or a blend of fruits and berries are commonly used as the base of squash. Popular blends are apple with blackcurrant, raspberry with pomegranate, and orange or peach with mango. Less popular single-fruit squashes are also produced, such as pineapple, pomegranate, raspberry, and strawberry.
Squash commands a large share of the fruit juices and soft drinks market.
It is generally not available in the United States. When it is available there, it is quite expensive. Some Americans make it at home. This process involves boiling water and sugar together on a low heat, and straining juice or infusing plant extract, and adding lemon juice or citric acid.
Squash is prepared by combining one part concentrate with four or five parts water (carbonated or still). It is usually combined with cold water, but old-fashioned cordials are often combined with warm water. Double-strength squash and traditional cordials, which are thicker, are made with one part concentrate and twelve parts water. Some squash concentrates are quite weak, and these are sometimes mixed with one part concentrate and two or three parts water.
In convenience stores and supermarkets, ready-diluted squash is sold in cans, cartons, and plastic bottles.
Diluted squash is often used as a base for making cocktails, or as flavouring or a sweetener. Gin can be mixed with diluted squash to produce a cocktail similar to a gin and juice.
When ordering squash in restaurants, people are often asked by their server whether they would like it "strong" or "weak". It is commonly served cold, often with ice, but, especially with traditional cordials, is often served warm in winter, just as tea or coffee would be. The most common squash to be served warm was spiced berry, a type that has almost gone out of fashion but is still made by some companies specialising in traditional cordials. However, the market for spiced berry cordial has recently been taken over by cheaper companies manufacturing modern flavours of squash such as lemon, orange & apple and blackcurrant squash.
Most cordials and squashes contain preservatives such as potassium sorbate or (in traditional cordials) sulphites, as they are designed to be kept on the shelves. They keep well because of their high sugar content. However, they are commonly kept in refrigerators with the belief that refrigeration keeps them fresh longer, but squashes that are refrigerated are more likely to take in strong odours from the surroundings and lose flavour.
Ingredients in squashes and cordials have evolved over the years. A traditional cordial contains three ingredients: sugar, juice or plant extract and some water. Usually it can contain an acidifier such as citric acid or in very old-fashioned cordials lemon juice, or even spices such as cinnamon or cloves. Recreations of these traditional preparations often contain a preservative especially sulphur dioxide, although sugar alone will keep it fresh for quite a long time. Modern squash drinks are generally more complex and sugar free squash even more so; the ingredients are usually water, sweetener such as aspartame or sodium saccharin, juice in a low quantity (typically 5-10 percent), large quantities of flavouring, preservatives and sometimes a colour such as anthocyanin. In the middle are ordinary squashes, which contain sugar, water, a larger amount of juice, preservatives, colouring such as anthocyanin and often a small amount of flavouring. Although colours such as Allura Red AC and Sunset Yellow FCF are occasionally used in squash, most modern British companies are gradually aiming to use natural colours such as beta carotene or anthocyanins, and natural flavourings.
Traditional squashes may be flavoured with elderflowers, lemon, pomegranate, apple, strawberry, chokeberry (often with spices such as cinnamon or cloves added), orange, pear, or raspberry.
Modern squashes usually have simpler flavours, such as orange, apple, summer fruit (mixed berries), blackcurrant, apple and blackcurrant, orange, peach, pineapple, mango, lime, or lemon.
"Cordial" and "squash" are similar, although the products known as cordials tend to be thicker and stronger, requiring less syrup and more water to be blended. "High juice" is not a brand of squash, but it is a type that contains a larger amount of juice, around 45%. Squash is often colloquially known as "juice", especially when talking to young children because they may get confused by the term "squash", but this term is a misnomer; no squash is pure juice. If they are not called "juice" when talking to children, it is commonly known as the fruit which it comes from, or more rarely, "fruit drink" especially if it is ready-diluted in a plastic bottle or a paper carton. Drinks called the latter include products like Fruit Shoot, which aims to have a similar flavour to squash while being ready to drink.
Fruit juice content
Squashes are measured by their juice content, the average being 30%. A variety of squash that contains a larger amount of fruit juice, up to half or more of the volume in juice, is sold in markets as "high juice", and squashes are quite often called "juice" when talking to children, especially these high-juice beverages, although this may be confusing. However, many squashes contain less than 20% juice, and some as little as 5-10%. The latter are typically low in nutritional value, and the high juice versions are reasonably higher in nutrients, although one downside is that it is high in sugar and does not contain fibre or minor nutrients. That goes with almost all squashes. A low juice squash may state "with real fruit juice" on the label.
"No added sugar" squashes, such as Robinsons No Added Sugar, are often manufactured for the healthy food and beverage market, alongside traditional cordials and plain squashes. They are chemically sweetened squashes, usually sweetened with one or more of aspartame, acesulfame K, saccharin and sucralose. They are very low in calories, sometimes having as few as 4 per 100ml diluted, and their target audience is children because of their commonly believed health benefits. They are marketed towards children and families, but they also are consumed, but less commonly, by adults, particularly ones seeking healthier diets, hence the term "diet", wanting to lose weight or "weaning themselves off" sweetness. They tend to be very low in fruit juice, around 5-10% or less and instead flavoured with cheap, low calorie synthetic flavouring (isoamyl acetate for pear or banana, or mixed with malic acid to make an apple-like flavour, ethyl methylphenylglycidate for strawberry, octyl acetate for orange, allyl hexanoate for pineapple etc.) although most nowadays contain natural flavourings, instead of juice, as they aim to contain as little sugar as possible and juice contains natural fructose (fruit sugars) which despite being natural are still sugars.
Squashes with no added sugar are low in sugar, and so have a number of advantages. One is that they are considered a "healthier" choice for children because of the low sugar content, and sometimes they are fortified with a blend of vitamins or minerals, such as Ribena with vitamin C, although children need fibre because they do not usually have enough in their diets, and squashes provide little to none. For children who need fibre and vitamins, pure juices and smoothies are a much healthier option because they provide fibre, vitamins and portions of fruit, although they contain natural sugars, which despite being natural are still sugars, and so contain more calories which most children have too much of in their diets. The prevalence of obesity among modern children has made low-energy beverages a more favoured option for children. Additionally, high energy drinks have been linked to hyperactivity in children, particularly young ones, those who consume little fibre, which slows release of energy, and those who do not exercise. However, parents should not think that only giving these squashes will eliminate it completely, because the Feingold diet which is supposed to reduce it eliminates such sweeteners, especially aspartame which is one of the most common sweeteners in squash, and the preservative sodium benzoate which is widely used in soft drinks and squashes, and because this may just be because of additives such as sodium benzoate in the drinks, and caffeine in energy drinks, which children do not tolerate as well as adults, as opposed to sugar as most people believe.
Modern children, especially those brought up poorly, tend to have an overload of sugars in their diets, so pleasant tasting healthy drinks have been introduced. They are also recommended by dentists, as they have a lower tooth decay risk than ordinary squash, because they do not contain sugars that encourage the growth of bacteria in the mouth. As well, they are more suitable for people with diabetes as they do not raise blood sugar as much as ordinary squashes do because there is less sugar in. Although moderate amounts of sugars are important for release of energy and for balance of blood sugar, and despite the GDA (guideline daily amount) for an active 5-10 year old child is 85g sugars, between five and six imperial tablespoon measurements, because of popular beliefs about children's health and because of squash advertising, such as an idealising image of a young child picking fruit on the Robinson's labels, and behind-the-label idealising phrases such as "only natural colours and flavours, making it a perfect choice for your family", behind the label coupons for entertainment, prizes, etc, eg. cinema tickets, football or other sport match tickets, theme park visits or and Jucee squash bottles featuring "fruity fun" games and brain puzzles to popularise squash with children, low-sugar, low-juice squashes are usually the squashes served in schools as part of school dinners, and as part of after-school snacks made by parents. They make up a largish part of the beverage diets of children in the UK, besides fizzy drinks, sweetened juice-based drinks such as cranberry drink and pulp-free concentrated fruit juices (usually served at breakfast). At parties, play dates, picnics, day care centres, preschools and excursions, low-sugar squashes are usually the only options served to children alongside plain water, and UK family pantries often only contain low-sugar squash. Often when a fruit flavoured drink is served to a young child, other than milk or water, and called "juice" it is in fact usually a cheap low-sugar low-juice squash and very rarely a pure juice. There are several known risks in these practices, such as increasing the risk of phenylketonuria later in childhood if sweetened with aspartame. Also, sweeteners are banned in all foods and beverages for under-threes, but many parents still serve these drinks to young children because they do not know this fact, and because they tend not to check ingredient lists. Also, squashes are not specifically designed for young children.
Low-energy low-sugar squashes have their disadvantages as well. One of the most notable are that they tend to be low in vitamins and fibre, which most children do not get enough of, but that goes with all squashes. Another is that because they are low in juice, they do not provide any of the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, which most children do not consume enough of. Another is that they do not provide enough energy for those who exercise regularly, but they are not designed to be served to those people. Another is that recent studies showed that chemical low-calorie sweeteners caused weight gain because their intense sweetness has caused craving of sweetness, regardless of form and source. Also, the GDA (guideline daily amount) for an active child (age 5-10, one of the most common ages for low-sugar squash consumption other than between one and three) is 85g sugars and 1800 calories daily, and low-calorie squashes provide little to none of that. So as more and more children's foods, drinks and vitamin supplements are artificially sweetened, there is a concern whether children will have enough carbohydrates in their diets in the near future. However, the most known and most cared-about disadvantage is that a large proportion of these beverages contain phenylalanine, in the form of aspartame, which can cause health problems for those suffering from phenylketonuria, who make up around 1 in 15000 of the world's population. For people with PKU, sugar-free squash is either extensively diluted or not served. Also, consumption of large quantities of aspartame-sweetened squash can increase the risk of having PKU later in childhood and/or adolescence. Many people, even the parents and carers of people with phenylketonuria, still serve low-sugar squash because of its believed health benefits, not taking these problems into account. To combat these problems and to make sugar-free squashes less of a concern for people with these problems, squash companies have started using "safe" sweeteners such as sodium saccharin, acesulfame K and sucralose. However, many do not care or realise, so they still put aspartame in their drinks because it is cheap and most people with phenylketonuria would look on the labels.
Manufacturers of squash include Britvic (under the Robinsons brand), Indian manufacturer Hamdard (under the name of Rooh Afza and MiWadi brands), Nichols (under the Vimto brand), GlaxoSmithKline (under the Ribena brand) and Coca-Cola (under the Kia-Ora brand). Australian brands include Cottees, Bickford's, P&N Beverages and Golden Circle cordials. Indian brands include Kissan and Rasna. In Israel, fruit squashes are produced by such companies as Assis, Prigat and Primor.
Squash companies can use many types of advertising to encourage their products to appeal to customers. These include pictures, such as children picking fruit (picture on Robinson's squash) or anthropomorphic fruit (picture on Ribena), behind-the-label "fruity fun" such as word searches, crossword puzzles, word scrambling etc., tickets to experiences such as film tickets, football or other sport match tickets, weekend breaks, new film releases or theme park trips, or idealising phrases such as "the taste of real fruit" or "no artificial colours or flavours, making it the perfect choice for your family" or other similar phrases. These phrases, although rarely completely true, are very convincing to customers and are likely to cause more people to buy the product.
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