Orange juice is a delicious and healthy beverage. Whether you’re enjoying it on a hot summer’s day or knocking it back for a vitamin C boost in winter, most households keep a carton or bottle on hand.
If you’ve left it sitting around for too long, you might be wondering, does orange juice go bad? And how long does orange juice last?
The shelf life depends on the kind of juice you’ve purchased. Most store-bought orange juices have a use by date which usually gives you a shelf life between 1 and 2 weeks from when it first arrives at the store.
All varieties of orange juice will go bad eventually. It can become bitter, sour and change color. Fresh orange juice goes bad much faster, and has the potential to make you sick, whereas store-bought, pasteurized orange juice lasts longer.
Shelf Life Of Orange Juice
Fresh-squeezed orange juice is best drunk fresh for taste and nutritional value. Store bought juices usually contain additives to give them a longer shelf life.
Eight ounces of orange juice, served from a newly opened jug, delivers a day’s worth of vitamin C. Even kept in the refrigerator though, orange juice loses its nutritional punch by the day.
- Fresh-squeezed orange juice – should be refrigerated immediately and consumed within two or three days.
- Refrigerated store-bought orange juice, unopened – this should last for one or two weeks beyond the printed best-by date if stored in the fridge.
- Refrigerated store bought orange juice, opened – will stay good for five to seven days.
- Packaged orange juice, unrefrigerated – can last up to one year unopened, if stored in a cool, dark place. Once opened, should be consumed within seven to ten days.
- Frozen orange juice – can last indefinitely, but will be tastiest if drunk within four months.
Does Orange Juice Need To Be Refrigerated?
Pasteurized orange juice typically has the longest shelf life and can remain good for a year or more unopened. It can last up to one week after opening because the process uses heat to kill all bacteria in the juice after it is made.
If you purchase orange juice from the shelf (not the refrigerated section), it means it is loaded with preservatives and has been pasteurized, so can be stored in the pantry before opening.
Orange juice purchased from the refrigerator case should be transferred straight to your home refrigerator.
Fresh squeezed orange juice has the shortest shelf life, particularly if there is plenty of pulp mixed in. This too must be stored in the fridge. Do not consume fresh orange juice that has been left to sit out for more than two hours.
The best oranges for juicing include Valencia, Clementines, Tangerines and Blood Oranges. To be sure you’re selecting the best oranges for homemade orange juice, pick the heaviest fruits.
This delicious beverage can be frozen for long-term storage. It’s important to note that frozen juice will have a lower nutritional benefit than fresh.
Related | Does Lemon Juice Go Bad?
How To Tell If Orange Juice Is Bad
Orange juice has the potential to make you sick. Fortunately, it’s easy to tell when your orange juice is past its best.
- Smell your juice – if you detect a sharp or sour smell or if it smells like vinegar or alcohol, toss it out.
- Look for mold – inspect the sides of the bottle for dark spots. Mold may even be present in the juice itself – to have a closer look, pour some into a glass and check it closely. Any abnormal colors or textures mean your juice is no longer good.
- Taste – if you’re not entirely sure but your juice feels a tad fizzy or has a sour flavor, it has likely started to ferment and should not be consumed.
- Check the container – juice that has started to ferment may produce gases that cause the juice container to bulge. If this has happened, dispose of it.
Why Does Orange Juice Go Bad?
Orange juice generally goes bad in two ways. Either it oxidizes, causing a sour taste and a change in color, or if the juice contains pulp, the pulp will turn bitter in solution.
Once you open a container of orange juice, it will begin to oxidize, and micro-organisms can enter. Fresh, pulpy juice is especially vulnerable to fermentation and bacterial growth.
Even unopened, the natural sugars in the orange will start to convert into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This process of fermentation causes the juice to taste like wine or beer – but not in a good way!
Will Expired Orange Juice Make You Sick?
If orange juice has expired beyond the best by date but is still unopened and stored well, it is likely fine to consume. Pasteurized juice has been heat treated to prevent the growth of bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella that cause food poisoning.
Never consume fresh juice that has been left sitting out on the counter for more than a few hours, particularly in a warm climate.
Unpasteurized juice in particular may contain these micro-organisms, which will multiply even if the juice is properly refrigerated, leading to food borne illness which can cause symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting.
If you’re lucky enough to have an orange tree, or prefer to make your own juice, not only will you enjoy the freshest beverage around, but you’ll be boosting your thyroid and adrenal functions as well.
Your best bet for enjoying delicious orange juice is to buy bottles that you know you’ll consume within a few days, to ensure you not only get the full taste benefits, but also all the nutrients that come along with it.