Watermelon juice is a refreshing and healthy beverage that many people enjoy, especially during the warm summer months when fresh watermelon is in season. But after juicing a watermelon, how long does the juice last if you want to store it in the refrigerator to enjoy later?
Factors That Affect How Long Juiced Watermelon Lasts
There are several factors that determine how long fresh watermelon juice will retain its quality and be safe to drink after being stored in the refrigerator:
- Storage temperature – Colder temperatures in the 35-40°F range will extend the shelf life.
- Type of watermelon – Juice from seedless watermelon varieties tends to last a bit longer.
- Processing method – Juice that is freshly squeezed and immediately refrigerated will keep better than bottled juice that has been processed and sits out.
- Acidity level – Watermelon juice has a higher pH than other fruit juices, which makes it more prone to bacterial growth over time.
- Container – An airtight container is ideal as it minimizes air exposure and prevents contamination.
- Hygiene – Using clean utensils and equipment when processing the watermelon helps minimize the introduction of bacteria.
Keeping these factors in mind will help you get the maximum freshness and shelf life out of your homemade watermelon juice.
Watermelon Juice Storage Times
Given optimal refrigeration and handling, here are some general guidelines for how long watermelon juice will last after being pressed:
- In a sealed container:
- 3-5 days
- Transferred to another container:
- 2-3 days
- In the original watermelon rind:
- 1-2 days
Watermelon juice stored for longer than 5 days will tend to become unpalatable, separating and developing unpleasant flavors and aromas. Many food safety experts advise consuming refrigerated watermelon juice within 3-4 days to be on the safe side.
How to Tell If Juiced Watermelon Has Gone Bad
To determine if refrigerated watermelon juice is still fresh and safe to drink, check for the following signs of spoilage:
- Appearance – Separation of the liquid, cloudiness, visible mold.
- Smell – Fermented, sour, unpleasant odor.
- Taste – Vinegar flavor, bitterness, moldy taste.
- Texture – Increased viscosity, sliminess.
Juice that displays any of these characteristics should be discarded. Some changes like separation are natural, but combined with an odd smell or taste it indicates the juice has exceeded its usable life in refrigeration.
Does Sealed Watermelon Juice Last Longer?
Properly sealing watermelon juice in an airtight container can extend its shelf life compared to leaving it in the original watermelon rind or a container with exposure to air. Benefits of sealing the juice include:
- Minimizes air exposure – Oxygen can encourage microbial growth.
- Reduces contamination – Keeps other food and objects from contacting the juice.
- Retains moisture – Prevents the juice from drying out.
- Slows enzymatic action – Enzymes work slower in an airtight environment.
Make sure to fill the container to the very top with minimal air space to maximize the benefits. Mason jars, twist-top juice bottles, and vacuum seal containers are good options for sealed watermelon juice storage.
Tips for Storing Watermelon Juice
Follow these best practices for refrigerating watermelon juice to retain the fresh flavor and nutrients:
- Wash watermelons thoroughly before juicing.
- Use clean equipment and utensils.
- Refrigerate juice immediately after straining or transferring to a container.
- Make sure refrigeration temperature is 40°F or below.
- Fill storage containers all the way to the top.
- Seal containers airtight.
- Consume juice within 3-5 days for best quality.
- Check juice appearance, aroma and taste before drinking.
Does Watermelon Juice Freeze Well?
Freezing is an excellent option for preserving watermelon juice beyond 5 days and enjoying it long term. The freezing process stops enzymatic reactions that can cause loss of flavor, color, and nutrients. Properly frozen juice can keep for 6-12 months.
To freeze watermelon juice:
- Wash watermelons and equipment.
- Extract juice and strain if desired to remove pulp.
- Pour juice into freezer safe containers, leaving 1⁄2 to 1 inch headspace.
- Seal containers tightly.
- Label containers with date and contents.
- Freeze juice rapidly at 0°F or below.
For best quality, use frozen watermelon juice within 8-12 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before using.
Comparison of Refrigerator vs Freezer Storage Times
Here is a table summarizing the expected shelf life for watermelon juice under different storage conditions:
|Estimated Shelf Life
|Refrigerator (sealed container)
|Original watermelon rind (refrigerated)
|Freezer (sealed container)
As shown, freezing can extend the shelf life of watermelon juice by over a year compared to refrigeration. For short term storage, consume refrigerated juice within 3-5 days.
Signs Watermelon Juice Has Gone Bad When Frozen
Checking for signs of spoilage in frozen watermelon juice requires thawing a small portion first. Look for these indications the frozen juice has spoiled:
- Unnatural color changes – Gradual browning, graying, or darkening.
- Separation – Layer of liquid at top after thawing.
- Texture changes – Grainy, icy crystals, dried out spots.
- Mold – Any fuzzy or slimy mold when thawed.
- Off odors – Fermented, sour, or unpleasant smell.
- Off flavors – Bitter, vinegary, or moldy taste.
Properly frozen juice should retain its bright color, smooth liquid texture, and pleasant aroma and flavor when thawed. Discard if any defects are detected.
Juicing Watermelon Safety Tips
When making fresh watermelon juice at home, be sure to follow these food safety recommendations:
- Clean surfaces – Wash countertops, cutting boards, knives, juicer parts, and containers thoroughly before starting.
- Wash exterior – Rinse watermelon under cool running water before cutting to remove dirt and reduce bacteria transfer.
- Sanitize utensils – Use a sanitizing solution or briefly heat juicer parts and knives to kill germs.
- Monitor temperature – Make sure your refrigerator maintains 40°F or below.
- Don’t cross-contaminate – Use separate cutting boards and knives for watermelon and other foods.
- Wash produce – Scrub firm fruits and veggies well before juicing.
- Clean as you go – Keep your juicing workspace tidy to prevent bacterial spread.
Does Adding Lemon Juice Help Preserve Watermelon Juice?
Adding a small amount of lemon juice to watermelon juice can help extend its refrigerated shelf life slightly thanks to lemon’s acidic properties. Lemon juice benefits include:
- Lowers pH – Creates a more acidic environment less favorable to bacteria.
- Adds vitamin C – Has antioxidant properties.
- Provides flavor – Enhances taste as juice ages.
- Prevents browning – Reduces enzymatic discoloration reactions.
Typically 1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice per 16 ounces watermelon juice is sufficient. Adding too much can make the juice very tart. The boost in acidity from the lemon can extend refrigerated watermelon juice life by 1-2 days.
Try These Refreshing Watermelon Juice Recipes
Watermelon juice is delicious straight up, but you can also liven it with the addition of some complementary ingredients. Try out these tasty combinations:
- Watermelon Mint – Watermelon juice, fresh mint, lime juice
- Watermelon Cucumber – Watermelon juice, cucumber, ginger, lemon
- Watermelon Berry – Watermelon juice, strawberries, raspberries, lime
- Watermelon Beet – Watermelon juice, beets, carrots, lemon
The fruits, vegetables, herbs, and citrus add layers of flavor and nutrition. Experiment with your own refreshing blended watermelon juice recipes.
Can You Freeze Leftover Watermelon Juice?
Yes, you can absolutely freeze any leftover watermelon juice to prevent waste and enjoy at a later date. Cover and refrigerate first if the juice was already made a few days ago. Then portion into containers, leaving headspace, seal tightly, and freeze.
Previously refrigerated juice may not freeze solid due to enzyme activity, but will become slushy. The juice is still fine to consume but may have some texture changes compared to fresh juice. Frozen leftover juice maintains quality for about 3-6 months.
With proper refrigeration and storage methods, fresh homemade watermelon juice can retain optimum quality and safety for 3-5 days in the fridge. Freezing extends shelf life significantly to 6-12 months. Always check for signs of spoilage before consuming refrigerated or frozen juice. Follow sound cleaning and preparation practices when juicing watermelon to minimize the risk of foodborne illness. Enjoy your delicious watermelon juice right away or preserve it using refrigeration or freezing to savor its flavor year round.