Apple juice is a popular beverage enjoyed by many for its sweet, fruity taste. But like any food or drink, apple juice does eventually spoil. So how long does apple juice last before it goes bad? Here is a comprehensive guide on the shelf life of apple juice and how to tell if your juice has expired.
How Long Does Apple Juice Last?
The shelf life of apple juice depends primarily on three factors:
- Type of apple juice (fresh vs. store-bought)
- Whether it is pasteurized or unpasteurized
- How it is stored after opening
Below are some general guidelines for how long different types of apple juice will last:
|Type of Apple Juice||Unopened Shelf Life||After Opening|
|Freshly squeezed||3-5 days||2-3 days|
|Store-bought, pasteurized||Up to 10-12 months||5-7 days|
|Store-bought, unpasteurized||5-7 days||3-5 days|
As you can see, fresh apple juice has the shortest shelf life of just a few days. On the other hand, commercially packaged juices that are pasteurized can last up to a year when sealed. Once opened, most types of apple juice will stay good for about a week when refrigerated.
Signs Apple Juice Has Gone Bad
Apple juice that has spoiled will show some telltale signs that it is past its prime and should be discarded. Here’s what to look out for:
- Change in color – Fresh apple juice is a light golden, amber, or pale brown color. As it starts to spoil, it darkens into a deeper brown hue.
- Clouding – Clear, filtered apple juice will get progressively cloudy and opaque when it has gone bad.
- Change in smell – Rancid, fermented odors or an off smell that is not like normal apple aroma could indicate spoiled juice.
- Change in taste – Instead of a sweet apple flavor, bad apple juice may taste bitter, sour, or unpleasantly strong.
- Fizzing – Bubbles or carbonation can signify fermentation and spoilage.
- Mold – Canned apple juice or homemade juice with pulp may get moldy flecks or film floating on top.
If your apple juice exhibits any of these signs, it is best to err on the side of caution and discard it. Consuming spoiled apple juice can potentially cause foodborne illness.
How to Tell if Apple Juice is Still Good
If you are unsure whether your sealed or opened apple juice is still safe to drink, here are some ways to check:
- Inspect the color – it should look normal and not too dark or brown.
- Give it a sniff – if it smells pleasant without any sour, yeasty or moldy odors, that’s a good sign.
- Check the expiration or best-by date – if it is within the time frame, it should be fine.
- Look for bubbles – small bubbles at the top are normal but excessive fizzing could mean fermentation.
- Check the texture – it should be smooth; separation of solids or sliminess indicates spoilage.
- Taste a small sip – it should taste normal without bitterness or off-flavors.
When inspecting apple juice, remember that changes in color and pulp separation can happen naturally over time. So these alone don’t necessarily mean the juice has gone bad if the taste and aroma are still normal.
How to Store Apple Juice Properly
To get the longest shelf life out of apple juice and prevent it from spoiling prematurely, here are some storage tips:
- Keep unopened apple juice in a cool, dark pantry away from direct sunlight.
- Refrigerate after opening – this slows microbial growth.
- Transfer to an airtight container and minimize air exposure.
- Don’t store for more than 7 days in the refrigerator.
- Check the “best by” date and use within that time frame.
- Freeze for long term storage – up to 9 months.
- Can homemade apple juice for shelf-stable storage up to 1 year.
With proper storage methods like refrigeration and sealing, the shelf life of opened apple juice can be extended by a few more days. But in general, try to use apple juice within a week of opening for best quality.
Does Apple Juice Expire?
Yes, apple juice does eventually expire and go bad. However, commercially packaged, shelf-stable juices have a lengthy shelf life thanks to pasteurization and vacuum sealing. Here are some juice expiration periods to be aware of:
|Type of Juice||Unopened Expiration Period|
|Fresh apple juice||3-5 days|
|Store-bought pasteurized juice||8-12 months or best by date|
|Store-bought unpasteurized juice||5-7 days|
|Bottled apple juice||12-18 months|
|Canned apple juice||12-24 months|
|Frozen apple juice concentrate||9-12 months|
Once opened, these time frames shorten to just a week or less for most types of apple juice. The exception is canned juice or juice boxes, which last 2-3 weeks after opening thanks to aseptic packaging. But in general, use apple juice promptly after opening for best quality.
How to Tell if Apple Juice Concentrate Has Expired
With frozen apple juice concentrate, which can be stored up to a year, there are a couple key signs that it may have expired:
- Ice crystals or freezer burn on the concentrate.
- Off aroma and darkening or browning color when thawed.
- Separation into layers or watery texture after diluting concentrate.
- Mold growing in the bottle or can.
- An unpleasant sour, bitter, or fermented taste.
Apple juice that has been frozen for too long tends to deteriorate in quality, flavor, and nutrition. A good rule of thumb is to use frozen concentrates within about 6 months for best taste.
Can You Drink Apple Juice After the Expiration Date?
It’s not recommended to drink apple juice after its printed expiration or “best by” date. This date is an indicator from manufacturers of when the unopened juice will start to degrade in quality and taste. Juice that is consumed after the expiration date is not guaranteed to be fresh or safe.
However, some people may wonder if apple juice is still ok to consume a short while after its expiration date, as long as it hasn’t been opened. This comes down to personal discretion. If the juice is only a month or two past its date and has been continuously refrigerated, it may still be fine. But there is no way to know for sure if it is still good or starting to spoil without opening and tasting it.
To err on the side of safety, apple juice that has sat on the shelf for an extended period past the expiration date should be discarded. Once opened, juice must be consumed within 5-7 days and not kept for long periods, even if refrigerated.
Can Expired Apple Juice Make You Sick?
Drinking apple juice after its expiration date when it has begun to spoil can potentially make you sick. Here are some of the risks:
- Foodborne illness – Bacteria like mold, salmonella, or E. coli can grow in spoiled juice and cause vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.
- Toxicity – Microbes breaking down nutrients in old juice produce toxic byproducts.
- Allergic reaction – Spoiled juice may trigger food intolerance symptoms.
- Digestive issues – Rancid, fermented juice can cause stomach cramps, nausea, and other GI problems.
Apple juice contaminated with dangerous bacteria may not look, smell, or taste noticeably spoiled. So drinking it after the expiration date is risky if pathogens have had time to multiply. Stick to the manufacturer’s recommendation and refrigerate after opening to avoid foodborne illness.
The Bottom Line
Like any perishable food, apple juice has a limited shelf life and can go bad over time. Fresh juice only lasts a few days, while commercially packaged juices stay fresh in sealed bottles for up to a year. Once opened, apple juice will stay good for about 5-7 more days in the fridge.
Check apple juice for changes in appearance, aroma, and taste to determine if it has spoiled. Discard any juice that smells or tastes off. Following proper storage methods and consuming opened juice within a week helps prevent foodborne pathogens from growing.
While it may sometimes seem wasteful to throw away expired but sealed apple juice, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Consuming spoiled apple juice that has fermented or harbors toxic microbes can cause unpleasant illness and health issues. Pay close attention to expiration dates and signs of spoilage to ensure your apple juice stays fresh and delicious.