Squash (also known as dilute or cordial), in British English, is a non-alcoholic concentrated syrup used in beverage making. It is usually fruit-flavoured, 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.
Squash is mixed with a certain amount of water or carbonated water before drinking. As a drink mixer, it may be combined with an alcoholic beverage to prepare a cocktail.
Citrus fruits (particularly orange, lime and lemon) or a blend of fruits and berries are commonly used as the base of squash.
Traditional squashes are usually flavoured with ginger, chokeberries (often with spices added), elderflower, and sometimes orange or lemon.
Squash is prepared by combining one part concentrate with four or five parts water (carbonated or still). Double-strength squash and traditional cordials, which are thicker, are made with two parts concentrate. Some squash concentrates are quite weak, and these are sometimes mixed with one part concentrate and two or three parts water.
Most cordials and squashes contain preservatives such as potassium sorbate or (in traditional cordials) sulphites, as they are designed to be stored on shelves. They keep well because of the preservatives and their high sugar content. Nonetheless, they are commonly kept in refrigerators.
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, peach, pineapple, mango, lime, or lemon.
"Cordial", "diluted juice", and "squash" are similar products, although the products known as cordials tend to be thicker and stronger, requiring less syrup and more water to be blended. In British English, "cordial" refers to a sweet fruit-flavoured drink (as different from a syrup). "High juice" is not a brand of squash but rather a type that contains a larger amount of juice, around 45%.
Squash is often colloquially known as "juice". However this term is a misnomer; no squash is pure juice. Squashes are commonly called according to the fruit from which they are made. More rarely, they may be called "fruit drink", especially if they are ready-diluted in a plastic bottle or paper carton (e.g., Fruit Shoot). It is also common for some in the North East to refer to squash as "dilutey juice".
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.
Squashes labelled "no added sugar" are artificially sweetened, usually with aspartame, acesulfame K, saccharin or sucralose, which is much cheaper for the manufacturers than both HFCS and natural sugar. They are very low in calories, sometimes having as few as 4 per 100ml diluted, and they are marketed towards families seeking low calorie alternatives. They tend to be very low in fruit juice, as fruit juice contains natural sugars, so they usually also contain natural or artificial flavourings (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.) to make up for the lack of fruit juice taste.
Britvic (under the Robinsons, MiWadi and Teisseire brands), Hamdard (under the Rooh Afza brand in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh), Nichols (under the Vimto brand), Suntory (under the Ribena brand) and Coca-Cola (under the Kia-Ora brand). Australian brands include Cottee's, 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 Prigat.
The gorillas at London Zoo are given both squash and cold fruit tea to drink. When a silverback called Kumbuka escaped from his enclosure in 2016, he drank five litres (nine pints) of undiluted blackcurrant squash that was in the keepers' area.
Good nutrition is one of the keys to a healthy life. You can improve your health by keeping a balanced diet. You should eat foods that contain vitamins and minerals. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and a source of protein.
Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer yes to any of them, talk to your doctor about your health. You may need to improve your eating habits for better nutrition.
- Do you have a health problem or risk factor, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
- Did your doctor tell you that you can improve your condition with better nutrition?
- Do diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or osteoporosis run in your family?
- Are you overweight?
- Do you have questions about what foods you should eat or whether you should take vitamins?
- Do you think that you would benefit from seeing a registered dietitian or someone who specializes in nutrition counseling?
Path to improved health
It can be hard to change your eating habits. It helps if you focus on small changes. Making changes to your diet may also be beneficial if you have diseases that can be made worse by things you are eating or drinking. Symptoms from conditions such as kidney disease, lactose intolerance, and celiac disease can all benefit from changes in diet. Below are suggestions to improve your health. Be sure to stay in touch with your doctor so they know how you are doing.
- Find the strong and weak points in your current diet. Do you eat 4-5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day? Do you get enough calcium? Do you eat whole grain, high-fiber foods? If so, you’re on the right track! Keep it up. If not, add more of these foods to your daily diet.
- Keep track of your food intake by writing down what you eat and drink every day. This record will help you assess your diet. You’ll see if you need to eat more or less from certain food groups.
- Think about asking for help from a dietitian. They can help you follow a special diet, especially if you have a health issue.
Almost everyone can benefit from cutting back on unhealthy fat. If you currently eat a lot of fat, commit to cutting back and changing your habits. Unhealthy fats include things such as: dark chicken meat; poultry skin; fatty cuts of pork, beef, and lamb; and high-fat dairy foods (whole milk, butter, cheeses). Ways to cut back on unhealthy fats include:
- Rather than frying meat, bake, grill, or broil it. Take off the skin before cooking chicken or turkey. Try eating fish at least once a week.
- Reduce any extra fat. This includes butter on bread, sour cream on baked potatoes, and salad dressings. Use low-fat or nonfat versions of these foods.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables with your meals and as snacks.
- Read the nutrition labels on foods before you buy them. If you need help with the labels, ask your doctor or dietitian.
- When you eat out, be aware of hidden fats and larger portion sizes.
- Staying hydrated is important for good health. Drink zero- or low-calorie beverages, such as water or tea. Sweetened drinks add lots of sugar and calories to your diet. This includes fruit juice, soda, sports and energy drinks, sweetened or flavored milk, and sweetened iced tea.
Things to consider
Balanced nutrition and regular exercise are good for your health. These habits can help you lose or maintain weight. Try to set realistic goals. They could be making some of the small diet changes listed above or walking daily.
Doctors and dietitians suggest making healthy eating habits a part of daily life rather than following fad diets. Nutrition tips and diets from different sources can be misleading. Keep in mind the advice below, and always check with your doctor first.
- Secret diets aren’t the answer. Fad or short-term diets may promise to help you lose weight fast. However, they are hard to keep up with and could be unhealthy.
- Good nutrition doesn’t come in a pill. Try eating a variety of foods instead. Your body benefits most from healthy whole foods. Only take vitamins that your doctor prescribes.
- Diet programs or products can confuse you with their claims. Most people in these ads get paid for their endorsements. They don’t talk about side effects, problems, or regained weight.
Questions to ask your doctor
- How many servings should I eat from each food group?
- If I’m on a strict diet, such as vegetarian or vegan, how can I improve my health?
- Are there certain eating habits I should follow for my health condition?
American Academy of Family Physicians, Nutrition: How to Make Healthier Food Choices
U.S. Department of Agriculture, ChooseMyPlate