If you are someone that doesn’t always go the traditional orange juice route and likes to have some cranberry juice from time to time, you most likely have a lot of questions about it.
How long does cranberry juice last? An unopened bottle of cranberry juice lasts up to 10 months past the ‘Best by’ date on the packaging. Once opened, the shelf life of cranberry juice stored in the fridge is around 10 days. Homemade cranberry juice has a shelf life of only 2 days.
Continue reading to learn all about the storage conditions of cranberry juice and if there is a way to extend its shelf life.
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Does Cranberry Juice Go Bad?
Cranberry juice has so many health benefits that it is a shame to let it expire and go to waste. But what if you have forgotten about the big bottle of cranberry juice that has been sitting in your pantry for months? Should you immediately discard it after checking the expiration date or should you give it a try?
Depending on whether your bottle of cranberry juice has been opened or not, the shelf life of this nutrient-packed berry juice may differ.
Cranberry juice does go bad. However, its shelf life is relatively longer compared to other fruit juices. The reason for this is the natural acidity of cranberries. Additionally, the shelf life of cranberry juice may be extended thanks to the preservatives and additives that manufacturers use. All-natural cranberry juice may go bad earlier than the ones with added artificial ingredients.
How to Store Cranberry Juice?
Cranberry juice can be sold both refrigerated and unrefrigerated, in a plastic or carton packaging.
Unrefrigerated cranberry juice can be stored at room temperature so long as it is unopened. You can store cranberry juice in the pantry or any room in the house where it is cool, dark, and dry.
It is important to keep the juice away from any sources of heat as well as sunlight.
Once you open the juice, the bottle should be stored in the fridge. When storing cranberry juice in the fridge always make sure to tighten the lid to not let air in.
If you have both refrigerated cranberry juice, it means you have to store it in the fridge as soon as you bring it home. And it doesn’t matter whether you have opened it or not.
As in the first case, the important storage condition is keeping the lid tightly sealed at all times. If you have lost the lid of your cranberry juice bottle, transfer it into another container with a sealable lid.
Can You Freeze Cranberry Juice?
If you have a half-full bottle of cranberry juice, you can freeze it to extend its shelf life. However, there are a few ‘do’s and ‘don’t’ s you should know about freezing juice.
Never freeze an unopened bottle or carton of cranberry juice. As the juice freezes, it expands. And we know that juices may often be filled almost all the way to the lid. So, there may be no room for the juice to expand. The packaging may break and you will have to clean your cold storage from frozen cranberry juice.
We recommend freezing cranberry juice in smaller freezer-safe containers leaving some space between the juice and the lid. Juice frozen in portions will also be easier to thaw.
TIP: Freeze cranberry juice in ice cube trays. The cranberry-flavored ice cubes will work well for many drinks. If you don’t like the combination of cranberry juice with other beverages, you can use them to chill cranberry juice without watering it down. This way you will have your juice cold but the cranberry flavor won’t be compromised as the ice melts into drink. Cranberry juice ice cubes are also great for smoothies.
The flavor of cranberry juice will be less concentrated after thawing. If you want the juice to suffer as little flavor changes as possible, put it in the coldest part of the freezer. The quicker it freezer, the less watery it will be once thawed.
To thaw cranberry juice, transfer it from the freezer into the fridge. To accelerate the thawing process, you can put the container with frozen cranberry juice under running water.
How Long Does Cranberry Juice Last?
Unrefrigerated cranberry juice comes with a ‘Best by’ date printed on the bottle. But as this kind of juices undergo pasteurization, they remain safe for consumption past the date indicated on the label. You should know, however, that the longer the juice sits in the pantry the more its flavor qualities will deteriorate.
An unopened bottle of unrefrigerated cranberry juice usually keeps well for around 10 months past its ‘Best by’ date.
Once the bottle is opened and stored in the fridge, you should drink the juice within 10 days.
A bottle of cranberry juice that is sold refrigerated has a shelf life of 3 to 5 days past its ‘Use by’ date. But we recommend inspecting the juice thoroughly if you decide to drink ‘expired’ cranberry juice.
Cranberry juice stored in the freezer will keep well for around 12 months.
Can You Drink Old Cranberry Juice?
As we have mentioned earlier in the article, unrefrigerated cranberry juice can be drunk within 10 months past the ‘Best by’ date. This is technically old cranberry juice. So, what happens if you drink it?
Depending on the brand and the quality of the juice, the flavor can still be unaffected. But it can also happen so that old cranberry juice doesn’t taste too good.
If you have cranberry juice that is past its ‘Use by’ date, err on the safe side and don’t drink it. As you may know, the ‘Use by’ date is more serious than the ‘Best by’ date.
Certain health issues, such as stomachache, can be involved in drinking old cranberry juice that is spoiled. But the risks of drinking bad cranberry juice that could make you sick are very little as you will certainly notice the off-putting taste and odor and will immediately discard the drink.
As for an old bottle of half-full cranberry juice that has been stored in the fridge for longer than 10 days, we recommend discarding it and opening a new bottle.
How Can You Tell If Cranberry Juice Has Gone Bad?
In general, you can tell if cranberry juice is bad or not just by looking at it.
If there are any signs of mold in a bottle with cranberry juice, discard it.
It is difficult to detect moldy juice if the latter is in a carton packaging. Thus, you have to look for other signs.
Pour the juice into a glass and see if there are any bubbles coming up to the top. If yes, the juice has most likely gone bad as tiny bubbles floating to the surface of the juice are a result of fermentation.
Fermentation in the juice may also cause the bottle or the carton packaging to bulge. If you notice this, look closely for other signs of spoilage.
Next, smell the juice. You know how vinegar smells, right? If your cranberry juice smells like vinegar, discard it.
You may see sediment in your cranberry juice when you pour it into a glass and let it sit for a few minutes. Don’t be alarmed by this as it is natural for cranberry juice to have some sediment. If the juice smells good, then you can go ahead and drink it.
How Long Does Homemade Cranberry Juice Last?
The shelf life of homemade cranberry juice is not as long as it lacks the preservatives and other additives that prolong its shelf life.
Although the shelf life of the juice may vary depending on the recipe, the general rule for homemade juices is that you should store them in the fridge and drink within 2 days.
In the case of canned cranberry juice, the shelf life is much longer – 12 months or more. But canning requires lots of work and attention. Otherwise, bacterial contamination can be a problem.
If you have decided to make canned cranberry juice at home, make sure to follow the instructions and not miss a step.