How long does it take for juice to go bad in the fridge?

Keeping juice fresh is important for both taste and health reasons. Knowing how long juice lasts in the fridge can help prevent wasting food and drinking spoiled beverages. The shelf life of juice depends on a variety of factors, including the type of juice, how it was processed and packaged, and how it is stored.

How to Tell if Juice Has Gone Bad

There are some clear signs that indicate when juice has spoiled and is no longer safe to drink:

  • Changes in color – Fresh juice should retain its natural vibrant color. Yellow, brown or gray discoloration is a red flag.
  • Clumping – Juice particles like pulp and fruit solids may clump together when juice goes bad.
  • Mold – Fuzzy mold spots are a definite sign juice should be discarded.
  • Unpleasant odors – Spoiled juice gives off sour, fermented smells.
  • Off tastes – Rancid, bitter or sour flavors mean juice has turned.
  • Leaking or bulging container – Juice containers may leak or swell up due to gas production by mold and bacteria.

Trust your senses – if juice doesn’t look, smell or taste quite right, it’s best to be cautious and avoid drinking it.

Shelf Life of Different Types of Juice

How long juice stays fresh depends on the type:

Pasteurized Juice

Pasteurized juices have been heat treated to destroy bacteria and enzymes that cause spoilage. This extends the shelf life significantly. Sealed, store-bought pasteurized juice will last:

  • Refrigerated:
    • Unopened: 5-7 days past the date on the package
    • Opened: 3-5 days
  • Frozen:
    • Unopened: 9-12 months
    • Opened: 3-4 months

Freshly Squeezed Juice

Juice that is freshly squeezed at home has a much shorter shelf life. General guidelines are:

  • Refrigerated:
    • Unopened: Up to 3 days
    • Opened: 1-2 days
  • Frozen:
    • 2-3 months

Juice Concentrates and Purees

Concentrated juices packed in freezer-safe packaging can be stored in the freezer for extended time:

  • 12+ months for 100% juice concentrates
  • 8-12 months for purees like lemon or orange juice concentrate

Once opened, juice concentrates and purees should be used within a few weeks and kept refrigerated.

Factors that Shorten Juice Shelf Life

Certain factors can cause juice to deteriorate and shorten how long it stays drinkable:

  • Oxygen – Exposure to air oxidizes and degrades juice over time.
  • Light – UV rays break down nutrients and alter flavors.
  • Heat – High temperatures speed up chemical reactions and microbial growth.
  • Repeated temperature changes – Fluctuating fridge temps hasten spoilage.
  • Damaged packaging – Leaks or tears allow microbes and air inside, accelerating spoilage.
  • Frequent opening – Each time a container is opened, juice is exposed to contaminants.

How to Store Juice Properly

Follow these tips to help maximize juice shelf life:

  • Buy small container sizes or portion out large volumes so juice gets used up quickly after opening.
  • Keep unopened juice in a cool, dark pantry away from heat and sunlight until ready to refrigerate after opening.
  • Refrigerate opened juice right away at 40°F or below.
  • Store juice towards the back of the fridge, not the door where temps fluctuate.
  • Keep juice in opaque containers to block light or wrap clear bottles in foil.
  • Seal containers tightly and wipe rims clean before re-sealing to prevent contamination.
  • Avoid introducing bacteria – use clean utensils and glasses when dispensing juice.
  • Label juice with dates opened and use within recommended time.
  • Freeze surplus juice in airtight containers to extend shelf life.

Maximizing Juice Freshness

Here are some additional tips for keeping juice as fresh as possible:

  • Give juice a sniff and taste test periodically to catch spoilage early.
  • Discard juice that smells or tastes off instead of waiting for visible mold.
  • Wipe drips from bottle rims and lids before resealing to prevent sticky messes that can attract bacteria.
  • Keep fridge set at 40°F or below and avoid overcrowding shelves.
  • Use clean utensils each time juice is dispensed to prevent cross contamination.
  • Don’t mix old and new juice batches in the same container.
  • Consume juice as soon as possible once container is opened.

How to Freeze Juice

Freezing is an excellent way to preserve freshness and extend the shelf life of juice. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose freezer-safe containers – opt for rigid plastic, glass or freezer bags.
  2. Leave 1⁄2 to 1 inch headspace in containers to allow for expansion during freezing.
  3. Seal containers tightly.
  4. Label juice with name and freeze-by date.
  5. Freeze juice immediately at 0°F or below.
  6. Avoid overloading freezer – cold air needs to circulate.
  7. Store frozen juice towards the back of the freezer.

To thaw frozen juice:

  • Refrigerator thawing is best – plan ahead and move to fridge 1-2 days before using.
  • Can also thaw in cold water, changing water every 30 mins to avoid spoilage.
  • Microwave thawing is quick but can affect taste and nutrients.
  • Use thawed juice within 2-3 days.

How Long Does Juice Last After Expiration Date?

The shelf life of juice depends more on when the container is opened rather than the printed expiration date. An unopened, properly stored juice should last:

  • Pasteurized juice: 5-7 days past expiration date
  • Fresh juice: 2-3 days past expiration date

Once opened, juice should be consumed within the recommended timeframe based on type of juice and storage conditions. Discard any expired juice that smells or tastes off.

Can You Extend the Shelf Life of Juice?

There are some methods that can help extend the shelf life of juice:

  • Freezing – Frozen juice can last months longer than refrigerated.
  • Smaller containers – Less air exposure when smaller amounts are opened.
  • Additives – Certain preservatives like vitamin C can inhibit spoilage.
  • Acidification – Adding citric acid lowers pH and provides protection against microbes.
  • Pasteurization – Heat treatment destroys bacteria and deactivates enzymes that cause spoilage.

However, optimal storage conditions are still needed for maximum juice freshness – keep refrigerated and frozen juice at proper temperatures and discard if any signs of spoilage.

Can You Drink Juice After It Expires?

It’s generally not recommended to drink juice after the expiration date printed on the package. However, an unopened, commercially pasteurized juice can often still be safely consumed up to 5-7 days past this date if it has been stored continuously at proper refrigerator temps below 40°F.

Even if juice seems okay, there is increased risk of foodborne illness from harmful bacteria and mold growth after the expiration date. Signs of spoilage like changes in odor, texture, or appearance mean juice should be discarded.

With home-squeezed juice, it’s best to follow recommended time limits of 3 days maximum refrigerated for unopened juice, and 1-2 days refrigerated after opening.

When in doubt, remember the old adage – “When in doubt, throw it out.” Consuming spoiled juice can cause unpleasant symptoms or sickness.


Knowing how long juice lasts can prevent waste and foodborne illness. Pasteurized, store-bought juices have the longest shelf life, especially if unopened. Freshly squeezed juice spoils fastest. Juice should always be stored properly refrigerated or frozen. Keep juice away from heat, light and oxygen exposure. Check for signs of spoilage like color changes, odors, mold, or fizzing. Discard juice that is past expiration or hasn’t been stored correctly. Follow recommendations for maximum juice freshness and enjoy the delicious taste and nutrition of juice before it expires.

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