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As much as I love the refreshing taste of pure juices, I refuse to pay the prices that some of our local supermarkets insist on charging. As an alternative I tend to browse the section of squash drinks, in particular the Robinson's range.
Robinson's offer several different flavoured squash drinks, including Pink Grapefruit, Summer Fruits, Blackcurrant along with their new range of fruit shoots, however it was the Apple & Blackcurrant flavour that caught my eye.
The deep reddish/purple coloured liquid is very striking when compared to some of the more insipid colours in the range, and as it's held within a clear plastic bottle, adorned with very simple labelling it clearly stands out.
The Apple & Blackcurrant soft drink is made from concentrate, and as such contains added sweeteners to apparently enrich the taste, however these sweeteners contained within this product actually increases the sweetness to much if you're not careful when diluting the concentrate product. I'd recommend using 1/5th or even 1/6th concentrate with the remainder water when preparing your drink, of which Robinson's also recommend extra water is used when the squash is given to toddlers.
Please note that Robinsons Apple & Blackcurrant contains a source of Phenylalanine - one of the main ingredients in artificial sweetener. Although Phenylalanine is actually an important part of our diet (assists protein) there are people who cannot metabolise phenylalanine and as such the warnings are included on all products containing phenylalanine.
Robinsons Apple and Blackcurrant's taste is actually dominated by the apple inclusion, not surprising when there is 9% apple compared to only 2% blackcurrant however the pure blackcurrant squashes can taste a little bitter so adding a more dominant apple taste sweetens the squash and makes it more enjoyable. The added sweeteners are unfortunately still apparent, even when diluted and this causes the drink to taste overly sweet. If you dilute the squash to much you lose the taste of the blackcurrants and apples and instead drink slightly flavoured water - which may appeal to some.
When drinking the squash the apple (and sugar) are the first tastes to tantalise your taste buds, the blackcurrant is more of an afterthought and this tends to linger on your tongue after you have swallowed your mouthful. Depending on the dilution you mouth is also left slightly dry - this can be reduced by adding more water and increasing the refreshment of the beverage.
My preference is to serve the squash ice-cold, diluted 1/6th squash to water, enabling me to experience fully the bitterness of the blackcurrant, sweetened by the inclusion of the apples, without having an overdose of the added sweeteners.
Robinsons Apple & Blackcurrant squash is low calorie at only 8 calories per 100ml, and contains 1.1g of carbohydrates per 100ml. The squash also provides you with 17% of your Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamins B6 and B12 when made up to 250ml diluted as per their instructions.
Obviously my personal preferences will be different than other people's, but if you are looking for a refreshing drink that can be used as a winter warmer (using hot water), or a summer cooler than Robinson's come close to the mark every time. Despite being a little overly sweet, additional dilution solves this problem, and actually manages to make 3 bottles last just under 2 weeks in my household when diluted to this level. The Robinson's range, as mentioned above, contains many different flavours so why not try next time you go shopping.
Each bottle has a very reasonable shelf life with items purchased in Waitrose at just under a £1 in February 2006, having a best before date of February 2007. Obviously prices are dependant on your local shop or supermarket.
If you wish to contact Robinsons to enquire about any or the products, or ask any comments and queries, their address is found on the reverse of the bottle. For reference this is Consumer Care, Robinsons Soft Drinks Ltd, Chelmsford, CM1 1TU.