Is homemade juice pasteurized?

Making homemade juices and smoothies is a great way to increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables. The bright colors and fresh flavors are an appealing way to get important nutrients into your diet. However, there are some safety concerns to consider when making juices at home.

What is Pasteurization?

Pasteurization is a process of heating liquids to a specified temperature for a period of time in order to kill harmful microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, molds, and yeasts. This extends the shelf life and makes foods and beverages safer for consumption.

There are several types of pasteurization:

  • High Temperature Short Time (HTST) – Heating to 161°F for 15-20 seconds
  • Ultra High Temperature (UHT) – Heating to 284°F for 2-4 seconds
  • Low Temperature Long Time (LTLT) – Heating to 145°F for 30 minutes

The juice you buy in stores has been pasteurized using one of these methods. The high temperatures kill pathogenic microbes that could cause foodborne illnesses.

Is Homemade Juice Pasteurized?

Unlike commercially produced juices, homemade juices are generally not pasteurized. The only heat the juice receives is from any initial washing and blending of the produce. This means homemade juices do not undergo a heating process to destroy harmful microorganisms.

Most home juicers do not reach temperatures anywhere close to those achieved during pasteurization. Even high powered blenders will seldom exceed 118°F during normal operation.

While pasteurization can affect nutritional quality, flavor, and enzymes, it is an important safety step for shelf-stable juices. Without pasteurization, homemade juices need to be handled and stored carefully to avoid foodborne illnesses.

Risks of Unpasteurized Juice

Drinking unpasteurized juice may expose you to foodborne pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, and Cryptosporidium. These organisms can cause serious illness if ingested.

Contamination can occur during the production, harvest, handling, and juicing of the produce. Bacteria present on the outside of fruits and vegetables can be transferred to the juice.

The FDA requires warning labels on unpasteurized juices because of these risks. Commercial unpasteurized juice is actually banned in many states because of the significant safety hazards.

Foodborne Illness Outbreaks from Juice

There have been various foodborne illness outbreaks linked to unpasteurized juice over the years:

Year Pathogen Cases
1996 E. coli O157:H7 70
1999 Salmonella 13
2000 Salmonella and Campylobacter 25
2001 E. coli O157:H7 15
2005 E. coli O157:H7 14

These outbreaks prompted regulation requiring pasteurization for juices shipped across state lines. However, homemade juices made and consumed within households remain unpasteurized.

Safety Tips for Homemade Juices

It’s best to take precautions when making and handling homemade juices:

  • Wash all produce thoroughly under running water before juicing.
  • Scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush.
  • Use only clean cutting boards, knives, juicers, glasses, etc.
  • Refrigerate juice immediately and drink within 24 hours.
  • Clean juicer parts thoroughly between uses.
  • Only use produce that is in good condition, not moldy or damaged.
  • Consider peeling rough/waxy skins which can harbor bacteria.

You can reduce your risk by following good food safety practices, but there is no way to completely eliminate the hazards of unpasteurized juice.

Should You Drink Unpasteurized Juice?

Drinking small amounts of fresh, homemade juice that is handled properly is unlikely to cause illness in most healthy adults and older children. However, there are certain higher risk groups that need to use extra caution or avoid unpasteurized juice entirely:

  • Young children
  • Older adults
  • Pregnant women
  • People with compromised immune systems
  • People with chronic illnesses like diabetes, kidney disease, etc.

These populations have a greater chance of developing serious complications from foodborne pathogens. They should only consume pasteurized or boiled juices.

Pasteurizing Juice at Home

You can pasteurize homemade juice at home by heating it to at least 165°F for 1-2 minutes. This can be done on the stovetop in a saucepan or double boiler. Allow juice to cool before drinking.

Other methods like UV treatment, high pressure processing, and additives like lemon juice can help reduce potential pathogens but do not guarantee safety like full pasteurization does.

Juicing Best Practices

Here are some tips for safely making great tasting homemade juices:

Do Don’t
– Drink juice within 1-2 days – Drink juice stored for over 3 days
– Keep juice refrigerated – Leave juice out at room temperature
– Wash produce thoroughly – Juice produce directly from the grocery bag
– Use ingredients in prime condition – Juice overripe or spoiled produce
– Have a designated juicing area – Make juice all over the kitchen
– Clean juicer parts after each use – Allow residue and pulp to dry on juicer

Following these tips will help ensure your homemade juices are as fresh and nutritious as possible while keeping risks low.

Making Juice Safe for Special Populations

Pasteurizing juice at home is recommended if you plan to serve homemade juice to anyone at higher risk:

  • Infants and Young Children – Only serve pasteurized juice before age 5. Their immune systems cannot handle pathogens as well.
  • Elderly Adults – Pasteurize juice to kill any bacteria that could cause serious illness in this age group.
  • Pregnant Women – Certain pathogens like Listeria are especially harmful during pregnancy. Pasteurize to be safe.
  • Immune Compromised Individuals – Those with illnesses like HIV/AIDS and cancer should not drink unpasteurized juice.

For those with increased vulnerability, it’s better to be cautious and pasteurize or buy pasteurized juice only.

Commercial Pasteurized Juice

Commercially prepared juices have undergone pasteurization and can be kept refrigerated for over a week unopened. Once opened, they should be consumed within 5-7 days.

Bottled juice benefits from:

  • Expert sanitation practices at juice processing facilities
  • Flash pasteurization that extends shelf life but preserves taste
  • Packaging to prevent recontamination after treatment

Commercially pasteurized juices are shelf-stable and safe for all populations. However, homemade juices maximize nutritional content and flavor when consumed fresh.


Homemade juices are not pasteurized and do carry food safety risks if mishandled. Paying close attention to hygiene, storage times, and who consumes the juice can help reduce the chance of foodborne illness.

Pasteurizing juice at home prior to consumption is recommended for vulnerable populations. When preparing juice for the general population, following juicing best practices is advised.

While homemade juice has risks, consuming freshly made juices within a day or two remains a healthy and recommended practice when done carefully. Implement food safety guidance to best enjoy your homemade juices.

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