Is prune juice still good after the expiration date?


Prune juice is a popular beverage made from dried plums, or prunes. It is high in fiber, which can help promote digestive health. Prune juice is often consumed to relieve occasional constipation or promote regularity. Like all foods and beverages, prune juice has a printed expiration date on the container. This date indicates the last day the manufacturer recommends consuming the juice for best quality. However, an expiration date does not necessarily mean the juice has “gone bad” after that date. This article will explore how to tell if prune juice is still good to drink and safe to consume after the expiration date has passed.

What does the expiration date mean?

The expiration date on prune juice is not an exact expiration date. Rather, it is the manufacturer’s estimation of how long the unopened product should retain peak quality and flavor. The key considerations are:

  • The expiration date applies to unopened containers stored properly.
  • Once opened, prune juice will keep for about 5-7 days in the refrigerator.
  • After the printed date, prune juice slowly loses quality but may still be good for several weeks or months.
  • Proper storage extends shelf life, while heat and direct sunlight shorten it.

So the expiration date is simply a guideline, not a hard and fast rule. With proper assessment of appearance, smell, and taste, prune juice can often be safely consumed past the date on the label.

How to evaluate if prune juice is still good

Here are some tips for evaluating whether your prune juice is still good and safe to drink after the printed expiration date:

Check the appearance

When prune juice is freshly made, it has a dark purple-brown, opaque appearance. As it ages, it may become lighter in color and more translucent. If the juice appears brown, murky, or moldy, it is time to discard it. Good prune juice will still look relatively dark and opaque.

Smell the juice

When you first open a container of prune juice, it should have a pleasant, sweet smell reminiscent of prunes. If the smell is sour, fermented, or unpleasant, the juice has likely spoiled. A strange or “off” odor means the juice should be discarded.

Taste the juice

Smell alone does not always detect spoilage. Taste a small amount of prune juice to determine if the flavor is normal. Fresh prune juice has a mellow, sweet flavor. Discard the juice if the taste is moldy, bitter, vinegary, or otherwise unpleasant.

Watch for signs of spoilage

Here are some clear signs prune juice has spoiled and must be discarded:

  • Mold visible on the surface
  • Bubbles or gassiness
  • Separation and layering of liquid
  • Gelatinous texture
  • SSlimy consistency

If you note any of these issues upon inspection, err on the side of caution and throw the juice away.

How long past its expiration date can prune juice be consumed?

There is no precise time frame for how long prune juice is still good past its printed expiration date. General guidelines are:

  • Unopened prune juice may stay good 1-8 weeks past the expiration date.
  • Once opened, prune juice should be consumed within 5-7 days.
  • Prune juice stored in the fridge lasts longer than juice left at room temperature.
  • If properly stored away from heat and sunlight, unopened prune juice can sometimes last for several months past the date.

However, you cannot rely on rules of thumb alone. Make sure to inspect and smell the juice before drinking to determine if it has truly spoiled. If there are any doubts about the safety or quality of expired prune juice, it is best not to consume it.

Does expired prune juice make you sick?

Consuming spoiled prune juice can potentially make you sick, because over time bacteria can grow. If you ingest juice containing harmful bacteria, you may experience:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Headache, fever, chills
  • Unpleasant taste and smell

However, expired prune juice that has simply diminished in quality but is not actually spoiled is unlikely to cause illness if consumed. People with weakened immune systems should be especially cautious and avoid drinking juice past its expiration date to prevent possible foodborne illness.

Can spoiled prune juice make dogs or cats sick?

Yes, dogs and cats can get sick from consuming prune juice that has truly spoiled, but pets are less discerning. To be safe:

  • Do not intentionally feed pets any expired human foods.
  • Make sure to keep prune juice containers out of reach of pets.
  • If you suspect a pet ingested spoiled prune juice, call your veterinarian.
  • Look for symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

Cats and dogs’ digestive systems are more sensitive than humans. So while accidentally ingesting small amounts of expired prune juice may only cause minor stomach upset, larger quantities can potentially make pets quite ill. When in doubt, call your vet.

How to store prune juice properly

To get the longest shelf life and use prune juice while still good after the printed expiration date:

  • Purchase small containers. Once opened, prune juice will deteriorate faster. Buy small bottles or aseptic boxes you can use up quickly.
  • Refrigerate after opening. Keep opened prune juice in the fridge and use within 5-7 days.
  • Store unopened containers in a cool, dark place. Avoid warmth and sunlight to prolong freshness.
  • Check inventory and rotate stock. Use older containers first and bring new ones to the front.
  • Keep juice bottles sealed. After pouring a glass, reseal the container tightly.

Proper storage methods help extend the shelf life of prune juice. But remember to still rely on your senses before consuming juice past the expiration date.

Ways to use up expired prune juice

If you have a container of prune juice that’s nearing or just past its expiration date, here are some safe ways to use it up:

  • Pour it into a smoothie with fresh fruit, yogurt, and ice.
  • Mix it into muffin, cake, or brownie batter when baking.
  • Stir it into oatmeal or overnight oats.
  • Use it to sweeten and moisten a pork or chicken marinade.
  • Add it to vinaigrette dressing in place of some of the vinegar.
  • Reduce it into a glaze for meatloaf or short ribs.

The heating and mixing involved in cooking and baking can help mask any stale flavors. Avoid consuming expired prune juice straight up. But using small amounts in cooked foods is fine.

Can you freeze prune juice to extend its shelf life?

Freezing is an effective way to extend the shelf life of prune juice beyond the printed expiration date. To freeze prune juice:

  • Make sure containers are sealed tightly.
  • Leave a little room at the top for expansion during freezing.
  • Lay containers on their sides on a flat surface in the freezer.
  • Frozen prune juice will last 6-12 months past the expiration date.
  • Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
  • Use thawed prune juice within 3-5 days.

Frozen prune juice may suffer some separation, but can be shaken or stirred back together once thawed. Freezing stops the growth of bacteria and preseves both quality and safety long-term.

The bottom line

While the expiration date on prune juice is a good starting guideline, a range of factors determine whether it is still good and safe to consume, including:

  • Proper storage conditions – refrigeration extends shelf life.
  • Container integrity – damage can introduce bacteria.
  • Container opening – once opened, use prune juice quickly.
  • Sensory inspection – check smell, appearance, texture.

Rely on your eyes, nose, and taste buds – not just the date. Prune juice that has truly spoiled should never be consumed. But with prudent assessment, prune juice can often be safely enjoyed for weeks or months past its printed expiration date.


The expiration date on prune juice is an estimated guideline, not an exact rule. With proper storage and inspection, unopened prune juice may stay fresh for up to 8 weeks past its printed date, while an opened bottle should be used within 5-7 days. Although consuming truly spoiled juice can cause illness, expired but not spoiled juice is unlikely to make you sick. Evaluate prune juice by appearance, smell, and taste – not the date alone – to determine if it’s still good. Freezing can significantly prolong the shelf life as well. Being aware of these factors allows you to enjoy prune juice safely past its expiration date while avoiding spoilage issues.

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