Smoothies have become a popular and convenient way to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Blending up raw fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients into a cold, thick beverage is a tasty treat that can also provide important nutrients.
However, the raw ingredients going into your homemade smoothies can spoil just like any other fresh produce. The shelf life of smoothies depends on what ingredients you use and how you store them. Understanding how long homemade smoothies last can help prevent wasting ingredients and ensure safety.
How long do homemade smoothies last in the fridge?
Properly stored, most homemade smoothies stored in the refrigerator should last 3-5 days. The shelf life depends on the specific ingredients used.
Fruits and vegetables have naturally occurring enzymes and bacteria that will continue ripening and deteriorating the produce. Blending ruptures cell walls and releases these enzymes, quickening the breakdown process. Cutting and juicing also speeds up enzymatic browning.
Added fresh herbs, leafy greens, and citrus juice provide vitamins and antioxidants but also contribute to faster spoilage. Dairy ingredients like yogurt, milk, and ice cream have shorter shelf lives as well.
Storage method and temperature are also important factors:
- Store smoothies in an airtight container to minimize air exposure. Mason jars or bottles with tight lids work best.
- Keep smoothies towards the back of the fridge, not on the door where the temperature fluctuates.
- Throw out any separation or sediment, which signals spoilage.
- Add ice or freeze smoothies in freezer-safe jars or bags to prolong freshness.
How long is an unrefrigerated smoothie good for?
It’s best to refrigerate smoothies right after making them. Bacteria multiply rapidly at room temperature, so smoothies left out on the counter should not be consumed after:
|90°F (32°C) and above
|1 hour or less
If left unrefrigerated longer than the times above, homemade smoothies should be thrown out. Bacteria increase the risk of food poisoning.
Do frozen smoothies expire?
Freezing is an excellent way to extend the shelf life of homemade smoothies. Frozen properly, they can last:
- Smoothie ice cubes – 2-3 weeks
- Frozen in jars or bags – 2-3 months
To freeze smoothies:
- Make sure smoothie ingredients were fresh before freezing.
- Wash and dry containers thoroughly before use.
- Leave at least 1⁄2 inch headspace for expansion.
- Store frozen smoothies at 0°F or below.
- Avoid freezer burn by using airtight containers.
Thaw frozen smoothies overnight in the fridge before serving. Give frozen smoothies a sniff and taste test after thawing – you’ll know if the flavor has deteriorated.
Signs your homemade smoothie has gone bad
Watch for these signs that indicate your smoothie is past its prime and shouldn’t be consumed:
- Change in color – Smoothies made with green leafy veggies, berries, or other colorful produce can change hue as pigments degrade over time.
- Separation – Liquid or sediment separated from the rest of the smoothie is a sign of spoilage.
- Mold growth – Fuzzy mold spots indicate the smoothie has spoiled.
- Off smells – Rancid or sour odors mean bacteria have multiplied to the point of spoiling.
- Off flavors – An unpleasant or bitter taste can occur as ingredients degrade.
- Gas buildup – Bubbles or carbonation from microbial fermentation create pressure.
When in doubt, remember the old adage – when it smells funky, it’s likely junky. Don’t take risks consuming spoiled smoothies.
Can you rescue an old smoothie?
What about a smoothie that’s been in the fridge a bit too long but isn’t outright spoiled? There are a few tricks to resurrect a smoothie on its last legs:
- Reblend – Quickly pulsing can reincorporate any separation.
- Dilute and chill – Adding ice and liquid lowers the temperature and acidity for a refreshing drink, if not an ideal smoothie texture.
- Freeze – Freezing extends shelf life and can be blended into a revived smoothie later.
- Repurpose – Use questionable smoothies for baking or add to oatmeal or yogurt.
However, if a smoothie smells or tastes off in any way, it’s safest to discard.
How to store smoothie ingredients
Proper storage of smoothie ingredients is key to making smoothies that last. Follow these tips:
- Wash, dry, and prep fruits and veggies right before using.
- Store dried ingredients like grains, seeds, powders in airtight containers in a cool, dry place.
- Keep leafy greens, berries, and herbs refrigerated in the produce drawer until blending.
- Freeze overripe bananas and other fruit for later smoothies.
- Thaw frozen ingredients in the fridge overnight before using.
- Check dates and toss expired dairy products like yogurt, milk, and nut butter.
Making smoothies safely
Practice food safety when preparing smoothies to minimize the risk of foodborne illness:
- Wash hands and all produce thoroughly before use.
- Avoid cross-contamination by thoroughly cleaning blades, containers, counters.
- Use refrigerated ingredients and blend immediately for best results.
- Never leave unrefrigerated smoothies at room temperature over 2 hours.
- Store smoothies in the refrigerator within 2 hours of blending.
- Label containers with the date smoothies were made.
- When in doubt, throw it out! Don’t mess around with spoiled smoothies.
With proper storage and handling, most homemade smoothies stay fresh 3-5 days in the refrigerator. Frozen smoothies keep 2-3 months or longer. Blending ruptures produce cellular structures, so smoothies have a shorter shelf life than whole fruits and vegetables. Keep smoothies chilled at 40°F or below, monitor for signs of spoilage, and don’t hesitate to toss batches that smell or taste off.
Make the most of your smoothie ingredients by handling and storing them correctly. Blend up only what you can drink in a few days and freeze the rest in portion sizes for later. With a few smoothie food safety practices, you can whip up healthy homemade smoothies that will last.