If apple juice is your go-to juice, you have probably wondered how to store it properly to keep it fresh and what is the shelf life of apple juice in general.
How long does apple juice last? An unopened bottle of apple juice stored in the pantry or in the fridge has a shelf life of 6 months past the printed date. Once opened, it will keep well for around 20 days. The shelf life of apple juice sold refrigerated is much shorter – up to 5 days past the printed date and around a week once opened. Homemade apple juice, which should be refrigerated at all times, will keep well for 3 to 5 days.
If you want apple juice to keep longer, you should either freeze or pasteurize it.
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Does Apple Juice Go Bad?
Apple juice is probably one of the most popular fruit juices after orange juice. It’s light, fresh, and has a lot of benefits so long as you don’t choose the sugar-packed varieties.
Like any other juice, apple juice also has a limited shelf life. The shelf life of apple juice is only long if it is commercially made and unopened. However, once you open it, the sooner you finish it the better taste you will get.
How to Store Apple Juice?
The storage conditions for apple juice are the same as with any other juice you make or buy.
If you have purchased apple juice from the unrefrigerated section of the supermarket, you can keep it in the panty once you bring it home. Whether the juice is in a cardboard packaging or a plastic bottle, keep it away from moisture, heat, and light.
You can also store the unopened bottles of apple juice in a kitchen cabinet. However, you need to make sure that the temperature of the room doesn’t fluctuate. Otherwise, you will see the juice go bad much sooner.
Once opened, the bottle of apple juice should be refrigerated at all times. The second rule is keeping the bottle or container tightly sealed. If the original bottle of apple juice doesn’t seal well, transfer it into another container with a lid.
Homemade apple juice should always be refrigerated too.
How Long Does Apple Juice Last?
The shelf life of apple juice largely depends on how you store it.
Stored, properly, an unopened bottle of apple juice sold unrefrigerated will keep well for up to 6 months past the printed date.
Once opened, the juice will be good for around 20 days.
An unopened bottle of apple juice sold refrigerated has a shelf life of 3 to 5 days past its expiration date. Once opened and refrigerated, drink it within a week for the best flavor qualities.
As for homemade apple juice, you should drink it within 3 to 5 days. Homemade apple juice with a higher amount of sugar is likely to keep better as sugar is a natural preservative. It slows down the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast. Additionally, a little sugar also helps to enhance the flavor of the apples. But if you prefer to make your apple juice all healthy and sugar-free, make sure to drink it within the first few days of having it in the fridge.
Note that the shelf life of opened apple juice also depends on its quality.
How Do You Make Apple Juice Last Longer?
If you want to make apple juice last longer, there are two things you can do. You can either freeze it or pasteurized it for longer shelf life. Freezing apple juice, in comparison to pasteurizing it, is much easier. Thus, if you don’t have time or are not in the mood for spending much time in the kitchen, it is the ideal way of extending the shelf life of apple juice that you know you won’t be drinking soon.
Freezing Apple Juice
If you have too many bottles of apple juice and want to freeze them, do it as soon as you can. It is better to freeze apple juice that is fresh rather than wait for it to be on the verge of expiration and only then put it in the freezer.
Apple juice freezes well, especially if it contains a high amount of sugar. The juice may get cloudy when you freeze it. But it will most likely go back to its original state once defrosted.
When freezing apple juice, or any other liquid in general, you should make sure to transfer it into a bigger container or bottle. As the juice freezes, it expands. Freezing it in its original container or in one that doesn’t leave enough room for the liquid to expand will lead to a disaster in your freezer. The container will explode or break not being able to hold the liquid in.
So, you should never freeze an unopened bottle of apple juice. You should either transfer it to another container or take a glass out to leave some room for the juice to expand.
It is a great idea to freeze apple juice in ice cube trays. This way it will not only be easier to thaw the juice but also use it to chill apple juice without thinning it out. You can also add some apple juice cubes to your water to make it delicious and fun to drink.
You can keep apple juice in the freezer for 8 to 12 months.
The best way to thaw apple juice is to leave it in the fridge for a few hours. However, if you need it quick, you can also thaw apple juice at room temperature.
Defrosted apple juice will keep well in the fridge for a few days.
Don’t refreeze apple juice.
Pasteurizing Apple Juice
Pasteurizing requires more time and effort but it does extend the shelf life of apple juice to up to 18 months. This is a great way to prevent fermentation in raw juices.
To pasteurize apple juice you can let it simmer at low heat for around 15 minutes. The temperature of the juice should be 167 °F.
You should also sterilize the jars (or bottles) and the lids. You can do this by boiling them or putting them in the oven for half an hour.
When the jars are sterilized and the juice is still hot, pour the juice into the jars and put the lids on. Wrap a blanket around the jars so that they cool down as slowly as possible.
Pasteurized apple juice can be stored in the pantry or somewhere cool and dark.
Signs That Apple Juice Has Gone Bad
Apple juice doesn’t go bad overnight or within a few hours. Its flavor qualities gradually deteriorate before it becomes completely unsuitable for consumption. Apple juice certainly tastes the best when it is fresh, be it homemade juice or a newly-opened bottle of apple juice.
The first sign of bad apple juice is the off-putting smell. If apple juice smells sour and more vinegary, then it has certainly gone bad.
Second, you should discard apple juice if you notice mold or any growth in the container.
Lastly, if the apple juice doesn’t taste good, then it is time to get rid of it. The smell of newly opened apple juice will certainly be more intense and palatable. However, even if you have had the juice for a few days in the fridge, by no means should it smell bad.
Even if the juice smells good and doesn’t taste bad but it has been sitting in your pantry or fridge for too long, it is better to discard it and open a new bottle.
Always pay attention to the ‘Best by’ date on the apple juice. While this is simply an estimation, it is best to keep up with this date if you are not sure whether your apple juice is still good or not.
Drinking bad apple juice may result in upset stomach and other health issues. To avoid them, practice food safety and don’t drink apple juice that has been sitting in your fridge for longer than recommended for each type of apple juice.