Does apple juice go bad if you leave it out?

Apple juice is a popular beverage enjoyed by many. But like other juices, it can spoil if left unrefrigerated. So does apple juice go bad if you leave it out? And what are the signs of spoiled apple juice?

How Long Can Apple Juice Be Left Out Before It Goes Bad?

The short answer is: not long. Apple juice can go bad within 8 to 12 hours if left out at room temperature. The ideal storage temperature for apple juice is 35 to 40°F. At this cool temperature, unopened apple juice will stay fresh for 7 to 10 days past the date on the package. Once opened, it’s best to drink the juice within 5 to 7 days and keep it refrigerated.

But if apple juice is left out unrefrigerated, bacteria can grow rapidly. Once bacteria levels reach high concentrations, the juice will start to spoil. Fruit juices have a high water content and nutrients that bacteria thrive on. Juice opened and held at temperatures between 70°F and 90°F can start growing dangerous bacteria within 8 to 12 hours.

Two types of bacteria that commonly make apple juice go bad are mold and yeast. These organisms are present in small amounts when juice is packaged. But leaving the juice out gives them a chance to multiply quickly. Besides bacteria, exposure to oxygen from opening the bottle also causes the juice to deteriorate faster.

Signs Apple Juice Has Gone Bad

Watch for these signs that your apple juice has spoiled and should be discarded:

  • Changes in smell: Fresh apple juice has a pleasant, fruity smell. Spoiled juice gives off strange odors like sourness, mustiness, or rotten smells.
  • Changes in taste: Bad apple juice may taste bitter, vinegary, or unpleasantly sour compared to when freshly opened.
  • Change in color: The juice appears darker, cloudy, or milky instead of a clear, pale yellow.
  • Fizziness: Fermentation causes carbonation bubbles, making the juice appear fizzy.
  • Mold: You may see fuzzy mold growing in the bottle or white spots floating in the juice.

Trust your senses – if the apple juice doesn’t look, smell or taste normal, it’s best to toss it. Drinking juice after it has spoiled can cause food poisoning.

Can Spoiled Apple Juice Make You Sick?

Yes, consuming apple juice after it has begun to ferment and grow bacteria can make you sick. Apple juice doesn’t have preservatives or acidity like other juices that help limit bacteria growth. So if the apple juice is left out too long, bacteria levels can multiply quickly.

Common symptoms from drinking spoiled apple juice include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Headache

The elderly, infants, and those with weakened immune systems are especially susceptible to illness from bad apple juice. The bacteria most likely to grow in apple juice left out too long are:

  • Salmonella – Causes fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps
  • E. coli – Causes severe stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea
  • Clostridium botulinum – Causes flaccid paralysis that can be fatal
  • Listeria monocytogenes – Causes fever, muscle aches, nausea

Seek medical treatment right away if you suspect a foodborne illness. Symptoms generally begin within hours to days after drinking the contaminated juice.

How to Store Apple Juice Properly

To avoid spoiled apple juice, it’s important to store it correctly. Here are some tips for keeping apple juice fresher longer:

  • Refrigerate after opening – Keep opened apple juice stored in the fridge at 40°F or below. Use within 5-7 days.
  • Keep unopened bottles cool – Store unopened juice in the refrigerator. Or keep it in a cool, dark pantry away from heat and sunlight.
  • Check expiration date – Don’t drink juice that is past the expiration date printed on the bottle.
  • Check for package integrity – Don’t drink from bottles that are leaking, bulging, or damaged.
  • Use clean glasses – Pour juice into a clean glass each time instead of drinking straight from the bottle.
  • Keep space on top – Leave at least 1/2 inch of headspace in the bottle before refrigerating to allow for expansion.

Also, drink apple juice within a few days after opening for best quality. Juice that has been open for over a week will start to degrade in flavor and nutrition, even when refrigerated.

Can You Extend the Shelf Life of Opened Apple Juice?

There are a few tricks to extend the shelf life of opened apple juice:

  • Add lemon juice – Adding a bit of lemon juice helps limit bacteria growth and oxidation. The acidity helps the juice stay fresher longer.
  • Store in smaller containers – Divide juice into smaller containers to limit air exposure. Less oxygen means it stays fresher longer.
  • Freeze it – You can freeze apple juice in ice cube trays, then store frozen cubes in an airtight container. Thaw cubes as needed.
  • Keep cold – Store opened juice at the back of the refrigerator where it’s coldest.

However, freezing and thawing will degrade the taste and texture somewhat. Juice stored for more than 2-3 weeks will not taste as fresh. So it’s still best to drink apple juice within a week for optimal flavor.

Can Apple Juice Be Refrigerated Again After Sitting Out?

It’s not recommended to try refrigerating apple juice again if it has sat at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Bacteria would have already begun growing.

Simply putting it back in the fridge won’t make the juice safe to drink again. When juice is left out too long, bacteria multiply quickly to unsafe levels. Refrigerating afterwards just slows further bacteria growth, but does not get rid of the pathogens already present in dangerous concentrations.

At room temperature higher than 40°F, apple juice is in the “danger zone”. In this temperature range, bacteria can double every 20 minutes. Just a few hours at unsafe temperatures allows bacteria to grow to unsafe levels that cause foodborne illness.

So apple juice that has been left unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours should be discarded, even if you put it back in the fridge afterward. Don’t take risks with foodborne pathogens.

Can You Boil Apple Juice That Has Been Left Out?

Boiling apple juice after it’s been left out at room temperature can destroy some bacteria, but not all. Boiling is not guaranteed to make the apple juice safe to drink again.

Some heat-resistant bacteria spores can survive boiling temperatures. Bacteria like Bacillus cereus and Clostridium botulinum produce spores that allow them to survive the boiling process.

Also, boiling doesn’t destroy toxins already released by bacteria in the apple juice. So boiling spoiled juice can still lead to illness from these toxins.

For highest safety, apple juice that’s been left out for more than 2 hours at room temperature should be discarded, even if boiled. Don’t take risks when it comes to foodborne illnesses.


Here’s a quick summary of whether apple juice goes bad if left out:

  • Apple juice can spoil within 8-12 hours if left out unrefrigerated.
  • Signs juice has gone bad include changes in taste, smell, appearance, and carbonation bubbles.
  • Consuming spoiled apple juice can cause food poisoning leading to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • To extend shelf life, refrigerate juice after opening and freeze excess juice in smaller containers.
  • Apple juice left out more than 2 hours should be thrown out, even if put back in the fridge or boiled.
  • Storing juice properly is the best way to prevent spoilage and foodborne illness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does apple juice go bad if left out overnight?

Yes, apple juice can go bad if left out on the counter overnight. The hours spent at room temperature allow bacteria to multiply to unsafe levels that could make you sick. Apple juice should be refrigerated after opening and never left unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours.

How long can unopened apple juice last after expiration date?

Unopened apple juice can usually last 1-2 weeks past its printed expiration date, as long as it was stored properly in a cool, dark pantry. But it’s still best to drink juice before the expiration date for optimal freshness and flavor. If expired more than a month, the juice may taste flat or stale.

Can apple juice be frozen after opening?

Yes, opened apple juice can be frozen to extend its shelf life. Pour juice into ice cube trays or small containers, leaving headspace. Freeze, then store frozen apple juice cubes in airtight bags or containers. This can extend the shelf life for several months in the freezer.

How long is apple juice good for in the fridge after opening?

An opened bottle of apple juice will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days. Make sure to refrigerate juice within 2 hours of opening. Keep juice stored at 40°F or below and tightly sealed. Drink any remaining juice within a week for best quality and safety.

The Bottom Line

Like other fruit juices, apple juice is highly perishable and can spoil rapidly if left unrefrigerated. For best safety and quality, drink apple juice within 5-7 days of opening and don’t leave it out for more than 2 hours at room temperature. Remember to keep apple juice chilled at 40°F or below to prevent bacterial growth and enjoy the beverage while it’s fresh.

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