Beet juice has become a popular health drink in recent years due to its many potential benefits. It’s loaded with antioxidants, nitrates, and other nutrients that may boost energy, lower blood pressure, and improve exercise performance. But like any fresh juice, there are concerns about how long it stays good and whether it spoils quickly.
How long does fresh beet juice last?
The shelf life of fresh beet juice depends on how it was made and how it’s stored. Here are some general guidelines for how long beet juice lasts refrigerated or frozen:
|Fresh homemade juice
|Store-bought pasteurized juice
|Cold pressed juice
Fresh homemade beet juice and cold pressed juices have the shortest shelf lives since they’re unpasteurized. Pasteurization helps destroy harmful bacteria and extends the shelf life. For any type of juice, proper storage is important.
How to tell if beet juice has gone bad
Beet juice that has gone bad will show signs of spoilage. Here are the main ways to tell if your beet juice is no longer good to drink:
- Change in appearance: Fresh beet juice should have a rich, dark reddish-purple color. If it starts to look brown, muted, or grayish, this indicates oxidation and spoilage.
- Change in texture: The juice may become slimy or develop a weird fibrous texture when old.
- Mold growth: You may see fuzzy mold growing on the surface or floating in the juice.
- Unpleasant sour smell: Fresh beet juice smells earthy and sweet. If it smells vinegary or unpleasantly sour, it’s a sign of fermentation and spoilage.
- Fizzing or bubbling: Bubbles or carbonation can indicate fermentation from bacteria or yeast, which causes spoilage.
- Unpleasant taste: The flavor profile changes when beet juice goes bad. It may taste moldy, vinegary, or very bitter.
How to store beet juice properly
To get the most out of your fresh beet juice and avoid premature spoilage, follow these storage tips:
- Store beet juice in an airtight container like a mason jar or resealable bottle. Oxygen exposure speeds oxidation.
- Refrigerate immediately, ideally at 34–40°F (1–4°C). Cold temperatures slow microbial growth.
- Don’t leave the juice sitting out at room temperature. Keep refrigerated until serving.
- Freeze for long-term storage. Frozen beet juice stays good for 6–12 months.
- Try adding a squeeze of lemon juice. The vitamin C in lemons helps preserve color and freshness.
- Drink within 3–5 days of juicing for peak flavor and nutritional benefits.
- Check regularly for signs of spoilage like changes in appearance, texture, or smell.
Does heat treatment extend the shelf life?
Heating beet juice helps destroy potentially harmful bacteria, mold, and yeast. This extends the shelf life by slowing microbial growth and oxidation. Here’s how different heating methods affect shelf life:
|Raw cold pressed juice
|Canned or hot filled juice
Pasteurization heats juice to 161°F (72°C) for 15–30 seconds. This kills most bacteria but preserves more nutrients than high heat methods. Canning uses 212°F (100°C) heat, which prevents nearly all microbial growth but also destroys some antioxidants.
Can you freeze beet juice?
Yes, freezing is an effective way to extend the shelf life of fresh beet juice. Here are some freezing tips for beet juice:
- Let juice cool to room temperature before freezing. Hot juice can thaw other items in the freezer.
- Store in airtight containers or freezer bags. This prevents freezer burn.
- Lay flat in the freezer if using bags. This prevents the juice from pooling in one section.
- Leave 1⁄2–1 inch (1–2 cm) of headspace in hard containers. Juices expand when freezing.
- Avoid refreezing thawed juice. Thawing and refreezing degrades quality.
- For best quality, use within 6 months. The juice will last up to a year frozen.
Properly frozen beet juice retains its nutrients, color, and flavor. It thaws well in the refrigerator or by immersing in cool water. Shake or stir after thawing to redistribute ingredients.
Can you ferment beet juice?
Fermenting beet juice prolongs shelf life while enhancing flavors and potential health benefits. Beet kvass is a traditional fermented beet beverage. Here are some tips for fermenting beet juice at home:
- Add probiotic cultures like whey, kefir, or vegetable starter cultures. This kickstarts healthy fermentation.
- Include brine (salt and water solution) to prevent harmful bacterial growth. A 2% brine is ideal.
- Ferment for 2-5 days at room temperature. The ideal temperature is around 68–77°F (20–25°C).
- Use airlock lids or release built-up gas daily. CO2 from fermentation can build pressure.
- Once fermented, refrigerate to slow fermentation. Fermented beet juice will keep for 2-3 weeks.
Properly fermented beet juice has a tangy, fizzy flavor. The lactic acid from fermentation helps preserve the juice without using heat. Some studies suggest fermented beet juice may provide more antioxidants and health benefits than fresh juice.
Tips for using up beet juice before it expires
To avoid wasting spoiled beet juice, here are some delicious ways to use it up more quickly:
- Smoothies: Add beet juice to fruit or veggie smoothies for a nutrient boost.
- Over ice: Pour juice over ice for refreshing cold beet juice anytime.
- Popsicles: For a cool treat, freeze beet juice in popsicle molds.
- Cocktails: Mix with vodka or gin for an earthy twist on beet martinis or bloody marys.
- Salad dressing: Whisk together with oil, vinegar, and herbs for a colorful vinaigrette.
- Sauces: Stir into pasta sauce, marinades, or dips for flavor and color.
- Baked goods: Use as a natural food coloring in cakes, muffins, or doughs.
Drink beet juice within a few days for maximum freshness and taste. But if you can’t use it up quickly enough, freezing and other preservation methods allow you to enjoy the benefits of fresh beet juice long-term.
Fresh beet juice has a relatively short shelf life of 3-7 days when refrigerated. For longer term storage, freeze juice for 6-12 months. Signs of spoiled beet juice include changes in appearance, texture, smell and taste. To extend shelf life, store juice properly in airtight containers and refrigerate immediately after juicing. Heat pasteurization or canning also prolongs shelf life but may reduce some nutrients. Fermenting beet juice creates a probiotic drink with extended shelf life as well. Consuming beet juice within a few days of juicing is best for maximum nutrition and flavor.