Is it OK to drink old cranberry juice?


Cranberry juice is a popular beverage packed with nutrients like vitamin C, manganese, and antioxidants. It has a tart, refreshing flavor that many people enjoy. But like all foods and beverages, cranberry juice does eventually spoil. So how do you know if that bottle that’s been sitting in your fridge for a while is still safe to drink?

In this article, we’ll take a look at how long cranberry juice lasts, signs it has gone bad, and whether it’s OK to drink juice past its expiration date. We’ll also provide some tips on extending the shelf life of cranberry juice to get the most out of each bottle.

How Long Does Cranberry Juice Last?

The shelf life of cranberry juice depends primarily on how it has been processed and packaged. Here is an overview of how long you can expect different types of cranberry juice to last:

Type Shelf Life
Unopened bottled or canned juice 12-18 months past the printed expiration date when stored properly
Opened bottled juice 7-10 days
Freshly squeezed juice 2-3 days
Frozen concentrate 9-12 months unopened, 3-4 days thawed

As you can see, unopened bottled and canned juices typically last over a year past the printed date, while opened bottled juice lasts about a week in the refrigerator. No matter what form of cranberry juice you have, it’s important to store it properly to maximize its shelf life.

How to Tell if Cranberry Juice Has Gone Bad

Because cranberry juice can last so long unopened, it’s important to check for signs of spoilage before drinking an older bottle. Here are a few ways to know if your cranberry juice has gone bad:

  • It smells off, with an unusual, unpleasant, or rotten odor
  • It has changed in color, becoming darker and cloudier
  • It tastes sour or strange beyond just cranberry tartness
  • It is carbonated or bubbly when opened (indicating fermentation)
  • It has mold or slime inside the bottle or on the lid

If your juice shows any of these signs, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw it out. Over time, the quality, flavor, and vitamin content of cranberry juice degrades. Drinking spoiled juice could potentially make you sick.

Is it Safe to Drink Cranberry Juice Past its Expiration Date?

Most bottled cranberry juices you find at the grocery store have a best by or sell by date printed on the label, generally about 12-18 months from when it was produced. However, this date is not an absolute expiration date.

An unopened, commercially packaged juice should still be perfectly safe to drink for weeks or even months after its best by date. Over time, the flavor may degrade and it will gradually lose vitamin C and other nutrients. But it should still be safe, as long as it was stored properly and the bottle shows no signs of damage.

The exception is cranberry juice meant for medical use, like for treating urinary tract infections. This type of juice has a more exact expiration date that should be heeded because the products need to maintain a certain level of active ingredients.

So for regular bottled cranberry juice, the printed date is more of a guideline than a hard rule. Trust your senses – if it looks, smells and tastes normal, it should be fine to drink even a few months past its date.

Tips for Extending the Shelf Life of Cranberry Juice

Follow these simple tips to help your bottles of cranberry juice stay fresh and last as long as possible:

  • Store unopened bottles and cans in a cool, dark place like a pantry or cupboard. Light and heat speed up spoilage.
  • Keep juice refrigerated once opened, and finish within 7-10 days.
  • Check bottles and cans carefully for any dents, cracks, swelling or leakage before opening.
  • Pour juice into a clean glass rather than drinking straight from the bottle to avoid backwash contamination.
  • Keep the area around the bottle’s rim and cap clean to prevent mold growth.
  • Freeze 100% juice in ice cube trays, then store frozen cubes in an airtight bag for up to 6 months.

Proper storage methods help prevent spoilage-causing bacteria or yeast from coming into contact with your juice. Following the above tips can add weeks or months onto the shelf life of both opened and unopened cranberry juice.

Making Your Own Fresh Cranberry Juice

While bottled and canned options offer convenience, another way to enjoy cranberry juice with maximum nutrition and flavor is to make your own fresh juice. Here are some tips:

  • Use fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed well.
  • Add a bit of water while blending, then strain juice through a fine mesh sieve.
  • Consider adding honey, other fruit juices or chopped fruit for flavor.
  • Store homemade juice in the fridge and drink within 2-3 days.
  • Freeze extra homemade juice in ice cube trays or muffin tins for up to 6 months.

The whole fruit contains the most nutrients and homemade juice doesn’t suffer nutrient loss from industrial processing. Making your own allows you to control the ingredients and tailor the flavor. Just be sure to drink homemade juice quickly, within a few days.

Can Spoiled Cranberry Juice Make You Sick?

Drinking cranberry juice that has spoiled could potentially make you sick. Juice gone bad contains harmful bacteria like mold, salmonella, and E. coli that can grow over time, especially once exposed to air.

Consuming contaminated, spoiled juice can cause unpleasant symptoms like:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Headache
  • Fever and chills

Severe foodborne illness is more likely in people with compromised immune systems, older adults, pregnant women, and young children. But anyone can develop symptoms from drinking bad juice.

To be safe, inspect juice carefully and look for signs of spoilage before drinking. Don’t rely on odor alone, as yeasts and molds can grow without an off smell. When in doubt, remember it’s better to be safe and pitch juice that is questionable.


Cranberry juice can maintain quality and safety for many months past its printed expiration date if stored properly. An unopened bottle should be fine for at least several weeks after its best by date. However, once opened, juice only lasts about 7-10 more days in the fridge.

Examine juice closely and rely on your senses. Discard any juice that smells or tastes unpleasant or has visible mold. Making your own fresh juice can also allow you to enjoy the health benefits of cranberries with maximum flavor and nutrients.

With a little care and common sense, you can feel confident about enjoying that lingering bottle of cranberry juice while also staying safe. Just be vigilant about proper storage and signs of spoilage.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *