How do I measure the sweetness of juice and cordial?

Using a refractometer will allow you to measure the levels of sugar in your juice or cordial. In fact, refractometers are suitable for use with a magnitude of sample types including honey and milk and they are widely used in the food and beverage industry and beyond. When measuring sugar and sweetness levels, a refractometer is most commonly used to measure on the Brix scale.

The OPTi digital handheld refractometer is a simple to use portable meter that will tell you the levels of sugar (sucrose) present in your sample in a matter of seconds.

OPTi digital handheld refractometer
OPTi Multiple Scale Digital Handheld Refractometer is ideal for use in the food and beverage industry

What is a refractometer? How does it work?

Refractometers, as their name suggests measures the refractive index of light passing through your sample and correlates this to a value on one of its scales.

When a solution has amounts of substances dissolved within it, it becomes more dense and the optical properties (refractive index) of that solution are altered. In the case of a refractometer, it is this refractive index that is measured. The refractive index is the speed at which light travels through a substance and it determines how much the path of light is bent (or refracted) when travelling through that substance.

Refractive index diagram
The light is first travelling through the air, and then it passes through the water. water is more dense than the air and has a different refractive index, the light rays bend in the water.

When using a refractometer to measure sweetness, it is the dissolved sucrose that causes a change in the refractive index. This is measured and then correlated to the Brix scale.

What is the Brix scale?

The Brix scale defines the sugar content of an aqueous solution and is measured in degrees Brix (°Bx). 1°Bx = 1g of sucrose in every 100g of your solution. This is equivalent to 1%. So if your meter reads 15°Bx, you can say that your solution has 15% sucrose.

What else can this refractometer do?

The OPTi handheld refractometer can hold any three scales at one time, from a library of over 40. The food and beverage specific scales include:

°Brix°Brix 0-95
°Butyro 0-100
42 HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)% Weight / Weight 0-95
55 HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)% Weight / Weight 0-95
90 HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)% Weight / Weight 0-95
Fructose% Weight / Weight 0-85
Glucose% Weight / Weight 0-85
Invert Sugar% Weight / Weight 0-85
Maltose% Weight / Weight 0-60
Salinity (NaCl)% Weight / Weight 0-28
Total Solids of Waste Milk% 5-15
Water in Honey% Weight / Weight 10-30

If you want to read more on the features of the OPTi meter, check out our other blog post here.

How to use the refractometer?

Check out this video for further information on how to set up and use the OPTi for the first time. As you will be able to see, it has an incredibly straightforward interface and is really easy to use!

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