orange juice shelf life

Orange Juice Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

Orange juice is part of your morning breakfast. Stocking up some extra cartons is what you always do. Hence, you can’t help but pick up a few packs when it’s on discount.

When you’re doing a thorough cleaning, you find an unopened orange juice that has passed the best-by date. Does this mean that orange juice goes bad?

What about the freshly-squeezed orange juice you buy at the farmer’s market? How long can you keep it in the fridge?

Orange juice is definitely the most consumed juice in the world. It’s healthy and refreshing. However, storage and shelf life of orange juice remain unclear for some people.

If you are also looking for such information, stay here. We are breaking down the nitty-gritty of orange juice, its shelf life, storage, and spoilage signs. So, keep reading!

How To Store Orange Juice

In general, orange juice (and other juice and cider) can be grouped into pasteurized and unpasteurized juice. (*)

When fresh fruit and vegetables are squeezed into juice, harmful bacteria can be present and remain in the finished product. Therefore, pasteurization or other treatments are applied to eliminate these bacteria. However, some producers skip this process due to their business nature and other considerations.

You can tell the difference between these two kinds of juices from how they are displayed in the store.

Shelf-stable juices that are displayed in unrefrigerated shelves have been pasteurized or treated to kill the harmful bacteria. These include canned juice, bottled juice, and boxed juice.

Meanwhile, untreated or unpasteurized juice is perishable. It requires constant refrigeration all the time. You can find such products in the refrigerated shelf of the supermarket, and freshly-squeezed juice sold at a juice bar, farmer’s market, or what you make at home.

The storage guidelines slightly differ depending on how the juice is processed. For unopened juices, the rule of thumb is to store it similarly to how it was stored in the store.

If you pick it up on an unrefrigerated shelf, you can also keep it at room temperature at home. Find a cool, dry area, out of heat and light. Such requirements are a perfect match for your pantry or kitchen cabinet.

Other than that, orange juice needs to stay refrigerated. It means, if you take a bottle from the refrigerated shelf, buy a freshly-squeezed juice from a store or juice bar, or when you make it at home – always keep it in the fridge. (*)

A little tip for your grocery shopping, pick perishable foods on your last minute before you walk into the cashier. This way, you can minimize exposure to room temperature.

After opening, all juices require proper refrigeration to maintain the shelf life and freshness. Make sure to close the lid tightly and put the juice back into the refrigerator after serving.  If you make the juice at home, place it in a sealed glass container.

Avoid drinking the juice right from the container. This is trivia but can make a massive difference to your juice shelf life. Bacteria from your mouth can easily transfer into the container and spoil the juice anytime soon.

How Do You Tell If Orange Juice Has Gone Bad?

Let’s start with inspecting the package. Similar to other beverages packed in carton boxes, when the carton expands or is swollen, this is a clear sign that the juice is already spoiled. The gas released by the microorganisms can’t escape the box and makes it bloated.

Next, if you notice sour or funky odors – like something fermented – this is another sign that your orange juice should be trashed.

When you pour the juice, check for changes in appearance. If the juice turns darker or you spot blue or white specks on the surface, it’s also time to say goodbye.

If you think that everything is normal, try to sip a small amount. If the juice tastes sour or fizzy, discard any leftover.

When in doubt, let’s just stay on the safe side. You should also toss out any leftover if it’s been too long kept in the fridge. Some foodborne pathogens can survive the refrigerator without altering the look, smell, or taste of your juice. So, better safe than sorry.

How Long Does Orange Juice Last?

The shelf life of orange juice depends on various factors, such as preparation methods, packaging, ingredients, and storage conditions.

Unpasteurized and untreated juice has the shortest life. That means the juice you make at home or freshly-squeezed at a grocery store or farmer’s market can only stay for 2 to 3 days. This juice is the purest and unprocessed; hence it’s spoiled the quickest. USDA recommends freezing freshly-squeezed juice to extend its shelf life of up to 2 to 3 weeks.

You also need to consider how fresh the oranges that you use. If the oranges are not very fresh, obviously the juice shelf life is shorter.

For store-bought juice, the shelf life is indicated by a “best by” or “use by” date. In most cases, this date refers to quality rather than safety aspects. It means that the juice may still be safe to use beyond this date, subject to proper storage. The freshness may change a little, but it remains safe.

Shelf-stable juice has the longest shelf life. It varies depending on the brands. Aside from pasteurization, preservatives are also used to extend shelf life. As long as it is unopened, you can expect a few weeks to months after its best by.

For refrigerated juice, it is prone to going bad when left at room temperature. Mishandlings can happen during the transportation, in the store, or at your home. Be sure to check it before use. If everything is under control, try to use unopened juice maximum a week from its best-by date.

After opening, all types of orange juice is perishable, including the one that used to sit at room temperature. The quality drops quickly as soon as the seal is broken. Orange juice is best to use within a week to 10 days after opening.

Orange JuicePantryRefrigerator
Orange juice (unrefrigerated shelf, unopened)Best by date + 1 to 6 months
Orange juice (unrefrigerated shelf, opened)7 to 10 days
Orange juice (refrigerated shelf, unopened)Use by date + 1 week
Orange juice (refrigerated shelf, unopened)7 to 10 days
Freshly-squeezed homemade orange juice2 to 3 days

This table is a general estimate of the best quality of juice. The actual shelf life can be either shorter or longer. Discard any leftover if spoilage signs are evident, even before its best by date or time frames above. Next to that, avoid drinking orange juice that has been opened for too long.

See more: Can you freeze oranges?


Does orange juice go bad if not refrigerated?

If you buy one from an unrefrigerated shelf, it is okay to leave it outside the refrigerator as long as it’s unopened. After opening, any orange juice requires refrigeration. For freshly squeezed juice or unpasteurized juice, it needs to be refrigerated all the time. It might be contaminated and spoilage occurs when left at room temperature. USDA suggests not to keep perishable foods at room temperature longer than 2 hours. (*)

Can you get sick from orange juice?

Yes, fruit and vegetable juice are linked to several cases of food poisoning. Unpasteurized and untreated juices are likely the source of the illness, including juice made on site (freshly-squeezed), farmer’s market, juice bar, etc. Avoid serving such products to elderly people, pregnant women, children, and people with weakened immune systems. (*)

Can you freeze orange juice?

Yes, orange juice can be frozen. You can freeze it in its original packaging and extend its shelf life further.

Final Thoughts

Orange juice is a staple drink in every house. No matter what packaging you buy, orange juice will eventually go bad.

When it comes to the storage of unopened juice, you should store it similarly to how it is displayed in the store. Unrefrigerated cartons or bottles can be kept in your pantry or cabinet. But, after opening, it needs refrigeration.

Meanwhile, refrigerated juice or any freshly-squeezed from the farmer’s market, juice bar, or made at home, needs to be kept refrigerated.

Orange juice is prone to microbial spoilage that makes it unfit and unsafe to drink. The signs include swollen cartons, blueish or white molds, sour smell, and taste. If you spot any of these, discard any leftovers!

Up Next: How Long Does Lemon Juice Last?

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