Fruit juice is a popular beverage choice for many people. It offers a refreshing, flavorful way to get some of your daily servings of fruit. But because fruit juice lacks the fiber found in whole fruits and contains natural sugars, it does require some special handling to keep it fresh and safe to drink.
In particular, many people wonder: does fruit juice go bad if refrigerated? The short answer is yes, fruit juice can still spoil in the fridge if stored for too long. However, refrigeration can significantly extend the shelf life of fruit juices, preventing them from spoiling as quickly as they would at room temperature.
How Long Does Fruit Juice Last in the Fridge?
The exact shelf life of fruit juice depends on a few factors:
- Type of fruit juice – Juices like orange, apple, and grape juice tend to last longer than juices made from more delicate fruits like mango, guava, or strawberry.
- Preservatives – Many commercially produced juices contain preservatives that extend their shelf life.
- Packaging – Juices in cartons or bottles will last longer than fresh squeezed juices. Aseptic shelf-stable packaging gives the longest shelf life.
- Storage conditions – Properly stored in a clean, sealed container in the fridge extends juice life.
As a general guideline, here’s approximately how long different fruit juices last refrigerated:
|Fruit Juice Type||Refrigerated Shelf Life|
|Orange juice||7-10 days|
|Apple juice||7-10 days|
|Grape juice||5-7 days|
|Pineapple juice||3-5 days|
|Mango, guava, or berry juice||2-3 days|
Note that juice stored for the longest end of these timeframes won’t be quite as fresh and flavorful, but it should still be safe to consume if refrigerated continuously.
Signs that Fruit Juice Has Gone Bad
Although the times above are general guidelines, the best way to know if your fruit juice has spoiled is to check its appearance, smell, and taste.
Here are some signs that refrigerated fruit juice has gone bad and should be discarded:
- Appearance: Cloudiness, particles, sliminess, or pulp separating from liquid
- Smell: Fermented, winy, or moldy odor
- Taste: Bitter, sour, or “off” flavor
- Texture: Increased viscosity or thin and watery liquid
- Mold: Any fuzzy mold spots or film on surface
As fruit juices near the end of their shelf life, you may notice their color darkening or flavors starting to taste stale even though they aren’t spoiled yet. But if you observe any of the signs above, it’s best to err on the side of caution and toss the juice.
Does Fruit Juice Last Longer Frozen?
Freezing fruit juice is an excellent way to extend its shelf life beyond refrigeration. Frozen properly in airtight containers, most fruit juices can last 8-12 months in the freezer.
Benefits of freezing fruit juice include:
- Halts additional spoilage
- Maintains nutrition and flavor
- Gives you access to out-of-season juices year-round
- Allows buying juice in bulk when on sale
To freeze fruit juice:
- Make sure juice is fresh and recently opened. Don’t freeze already expired juice.
- Pour juice into rigid plastic, glass, or freezer-safe plastic pouches. Leave 1⁄2 to 1 inch headspace to allow for expansion.
- Seal containers airtight. Zipper bags should be sealed with a straw to suck out excess air.
- Label containers with juice name and freeze-by date.
- Freeze juice immediately at 0°F or below.
- Once thawed, use within 1-2 days.
Avoid freezing juice in cans or cartons, as they may crack or warp. Some separation may occur after thawing frozen juice, but shaking the container will remix it.
Tips for Extending Fruit Juice Shelf Life
Proper storage methods can help extend the shelf life of fruit juices. Recommended guidelines include:
- Buy small containers: Once opened, juice will start to slowly deteriorate. Buy smaller containers to ensure it’s consumed within a week or two.
- Check “sell by” or “use by” dates: Don’t purchase juice nearing its expiration date unless you plan to freeze it.
- Refrigerate after opening: Keep juices chilled at 40°F or below.
- Store in airtight containers: Prevent exposure to air and contamination.
- Keep light exposure minimal: Store in an opaque covered container or the fridge door.
With proper refrigerated storage, the shelf life of many packaged fruit juices can be extended a few days past the “best by” date on the package. But use your judgment based on appearance, smell, and taste.
Can Spoiled Fruit Juice Make You Sick?
Consuming spoiled, fermented fruit juice can potentially make you sick. Juice that has sat at room temperature for too long can grow harmful bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, or listeria.
Moldy juices may contain mycotoxins that can cause unpleasant symptoms. And fermented juice with high alcohol content can cause intoxication.
In infants, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, drinking expired juice is particularly risky. Healthy adults may suffer more moderate symptoms like:
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Abdominal pain and cramping
Severe symptoms that require medical treatment include bloody stool, high fever, stiff neck, or signs of dehydration. If juice was left out overnight or you suspect food poisoning, discard it to err on the side of caution.
Can You Extend Juice Life by Adding Preservatives?
While adding preservatives to homemade juices can extend their shelf life, it is not recommended. Chemical preservatives like benzoates, sulfites, and sorbates may cause adverse health effects for some people.
A safer option is extending juice life naturally. Some methods include:
- Adding lemon juice: The acidity fights bacterial growth. Add 2 tsp lemon juice per cup of juice.
- Including vinegar: 1 tsp vinegar per cup of juice adds anti-microbial acid.
- Freezing in ice cube trays: Frozen juice cubes store well in sealed bags.
- Canning juice: Heat processing juice in jars makes it shelf-stable for over a year.
However, these only extend refrigerated juice life by a few days. For long-term storage, freezing is best.
Fruit juice definitely does not last forever, even when refrigerated. But proper refrigeration and freezing allows you to safely store juices for 1-2 weeks or 8-12 months. Pay close attention for any signs of spoilage. Discard juice that smells, tastes, or looks off.
Drinking spoiled, moldy, or fermented fruit juice can potentially make you ill. So always err on the side of caution. Smaller juice containers, airtight storage, and minimal light exposure help extend the shelf life. But freezing remains the best method for long-term storage of fruit juices.