Apple juice is a delicious and nutritious beverage enjoyed by many. However, like all food and drinks, apple juice does eventually expire. But what exactly happens when apple juice expires? Is it still safe to drink? Or will drinking expired apple juice make you sick? In this article, we’ll take a comprehensive look at apple juice expiration dates, signs of spoiled apple juice, and whether or not you can drink apple juice past its expiration date.
What is the shelf life of apple juice?
First, let’s discuss how long apple juice actually lasts. The shelf life of apple juice depends primarily on three factors:
- Type of apple juice – Freshly squeezed, unpasteurized apple juice will only last 1-2 days in the fridge. Store-bought pasteurized apple juice will last 5-7 days once opened.
- Package – Apple juice in bottles or tetra packs will last 5-7 days once opened. Apple juice in cans is shelf-stable and will last 10-12 months unopened.
- Storage conditions – Apple juice lasts longer when stored in the refrigerator versus room temperature. Keeping it cold below 40°F is ideal.
So in general, once opened, apple juice should be consumed within 5-7 days if refrigerated. Unopened, commercially packaged apple juice can last 10-12 months past the expiration date if stored properly.
How to tell if apple juice is bad?
Although apple juice can potentially last for weeks past its printed expiration date, there are some clear signs that indicate it has spoiled and should be discarded. Here’s what to look for:
- Change in color – Fresh apple juice is a bright golden, amber, or pale yellow. If it starts turning brown, that’s a red flag.
- Clumping or particles – Mold, yeast, and bacterial growth in old apple juice may make it look clumpy or chunky.
- Off odors – Rotten, fermented smells indicate apple juice has turned.
- Fizziness – Carbonation or bubbling is a sign of fermentation and spoilage.
- Off flavors – Sour, bitter, or generally “off” tastes mean apple juice should not be consumed.
If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw out the apple juice instead of drinking it.
Can you drink apple juice past the expiration date?
Now we get to the heart of the matter – is expired apple juice safe? Here are some key considerations:
1. Best by vs. use by dates
First, check what type of expiration date is printed on your apple juice. There are two main kinds:
- “Best by” dates indicate when apple juice will start losing peak freshness and flavor but is still safe to consume. Juice can typically last 1-2 weeks past this date if unopened.
- “Use by” dates refer to the last date that juice should be consumed by for food safety. You generally should not drink apple juice past this date.
2. Has it been opened or unopened?
Unopened, commercially packaged apple juice lasts significantly longer than juice that has been opened.
|Shelf-stable juice in cans or tetra packs||Typically good for 10-12 months past best by date if stored properly||Use within 5-7 days|
|Refrigerated juice in bottles or cartons||Often good for 1-2 weeks past best by date||Use within 5-7 days|
3. Proper storage conditions
To maximize shelf life, apple juice should be stored:
- In the refrigerator at 40°F or less once opened
- In a cool, dark pantry if unopened and shelf-stable
- Away from direct sunlight and heat sources like the stove
Apple juice that has been left unrefrigerated or stored at room temperature is far more prone to spoilage.
4. Signs of spoilage
As described earlier, clear signs that apple juice has spoiled include changes in color, texture, smell, or taste. Trust your senses – if your apple juice displays any odd qualities, it’s better to be safe than sorry and avoid drinking it.
Risks of drinking expired apple juice
So what potential risks are there if you do happen to drink apple juice after its expiration date?
Consuming contaminated, spoiled apple juice can potentially lead to foodborne illness. Bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria can all grow in spoiled juices. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.
If mold is visibly growing in expired apple juice, drinking it could expose you to mycotoxins produced by the mold. These can cause allergic reactions and other adverse health effects.
Food intolerance reactions
Expired apple juice is more prone to containing higher amounts of histamines and sulfites, which can trigger headaches, hives, asthma flare-ups, and other symptoms in sensitive individuals.
While the risks are relatively low in healthy adults, immune-compromised groups like pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses are most vulnerable to issues from drinking spoiled beverages.
Tips for storing apple juice properly
To get the most shelf life out of your apple juice and drink it safely, keep these storage tips in mind:
- Purchase small bottle sizes or tetrapaks so juice gets used up quickly after opening.
- Promptly refrigerate apple juice after opening and consume within 5-7 days.
- Check expiration or best by dates and choose the freshest options when shopping.
- When refrigerating juice, store it on an interior shelf away from the door to minimize temperature fluctuations.
- If unopened, shelf-stable juice will be stored for a while, keep it somewhere dark and cool like a pantry.
- Always screw lids on tightly and clean spills right away to avoid attracting bugs or bacteria.
- Consider freezing surplus apple juice in airtight containers to prolong its shelf life.
Ultimately, the answer to “can you drink apple juice after it expires?” is – it depends. An unopened, shelf-stable juice may still be fine up to 12 months past its printed date. But once open, apple juice really should be consumed within a week to stay on the safe side. Always inspect juice thoroughly and look for any signs of spoilage before drinking. Discard apple juice that smells, looks, or tastes off instead of taking a chance. Following proper storage methods and paying attention to expiration dates will ensure you can enjoy all the delicious flavor apple juice has to offer without worry.