Tangerines, clementines, Valencia, blood Oranges, just name them all! These are varieties of oranges that are best for juicing. Indeed, orange juice (OJ) is an all-time favorite fruit beverage for all ages. It is a delicious, refreshing, and healthy juice that is packed with the orange fruit’s vitamin C – a vitamin that aids in boosting the immune system.
If you have some orange juice sitting around for a while, you may wonder if it can go bad and how long it can stay in storage. Whether you have some freshly-squeezed orange juice or commercially produced ones, it is good to know about that information. This article will share some juicy details on storage, shelf life, and spoilage of orange juice.
(Also Read: How Long Do Oranges Last? Can They Go Bad?)
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How To Store Orange Juice?
Homemade orange juice must be immediately kept in the refrigerator.
For unrefrigerated store-bought orange juice, whether it is commercially canned or bottled, you have to keep it in a place where it is cool and dark like the kitchen cabinet or the pantry. Make sure that it is far from sources of heat because temperature changes will affect the juice negatively. Once opened, you have to keep it tightly sealed or have it transferred it in an airtight container before placing it in the fridge.
If you have bought some refrigerated orange juice, always make sure to keep it refrigerated as well. Do not put it in the pantry.
If your orange juice is in a can, you have to transfer the leftovers in a glass or plastic container before putting it in the refrigerator.
For a more extended period of storage, you can actually freeze your orange juice. Make it more interesting by freezing the orange juice in an ice cube tray. With some frozen orange cubes, you can add them anytime into a glass of water on a hot day. That would be a nice refreshing beverage for sure. If you have some frozen orange juice thawed in the microwave or in cold water, you should use it immediately.
Can It Go bad?
All types of orange juice will spoil eventually. Fresh orange juice spoils faster than the ones that are pasteurized, packed, and sold in the stores.
For unpasteurized orange juice, it may already contain food-borne microorganisms that can still multiply even if it is refrigerated properly. This is why you should consume it immediately and not let it stay for a long time.
Once you unsealed the container of a pasteurized orange juice, oxidation begins, and it becomes more prone to microbial contamination. Fresh orange juices that come with its pulp are more vulnerable to fermentation and bacterial growth.
In an unopened container, the taste can change under wrong storage conditions. Orange juice contains natural sugars that can be converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide through fermentation. As a result, your orange juice will strangely taste like beer or wine. And you should not be happy with it!
Spoiled orange juice tastes bitter, sour as the color changes too. These changes can potentially make you sick and cause food-borne illness symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.
How long does it last?
As we all know, freshly-squeezed orange juice is nutritious and it tastes the best when consumed fresh. Apparently, store-bought orange juice lasts longer than the fresh ones because it usually contains additives that extend their shelf life.
Store-bought orange juices usually come with a “Best by” date or expiration date. Once you have opened a container of orange juice, bear in mind that even if you keep it in the fridge, it loses its nutritional value as days pass.
The shelf-life of orange juice varies. Here is how long orange juice can last in different storage conditions
- Fresh-squeezed orange juice. It can last in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Freshly squeezed orange juice won’t last long in a day at room temperature, especially when you have plenty of its pulp mixed in it. That’s why you have to store it in the fridge immediately. It is best to dispose of your fresh orange juice that has been left outside the refrigerator for more than two hours, especially under warm temperatures.
- Store-bought orange juice. If unopened, it can stay up to one year (especially the ones that have been pasteurized) in a cool, dark place like the pantry or kitchen cabinet. Note tha unrefrigerated orange juices are loaded with preservatives, and it has undergone pasteurization to kill harmful microorganisms.
Once opened, these store-bought orange juices will still taste good for five to seven days.
- Frozen orange juice. It can stay frozen indefinitely if kept constantly at zero degrees centigrade, but it only tastes the best if consumed within four months. However, note that frozen orange juice will have a lower nutritional benefit than fresh.
How to tell if it has gone bad?
Unlike wine, orange juice does not age gracefully. Spoiled orange juice can make you sick. With the use of your five senses, here are ways to tell when that orange juice you have is not best for consumption anymore:
- Dark spots are equal to mold growth. If you see any unusual masses or dark spots that have grown on the side part of the bottle, that could be the molds.
- Change of color. Get a glass and pour orange juice in it. Check it closely and see if the color or texture of your juice doesn’t look fresh anymore. Spoiled orange juice usually looks darker than usual.
- Bulging or bloating container. There is a microbial activity going on inside the container of your orange juice. That means the microorganisms inside it have managed to produce the gas called carbon dioxide (CO2), a by-product of fermentation. So, there’s no wonder why your juice container is bulging. If you leave it be, it can even potentially burst. Hence, it needs to be discarded immediately. There is no way to save it.
- Vinegar-like or alcohol smell. Pour some juice in a glass and smell it. If you sense a sharp or sour odor, then that orange juice is already bad. You have to throw it away.
- Sour taste – Now, if you want to confirm it another way, you will have to taste it. Take a sip and feel if there is a tad fizzy or sour flavor, that means it has already started to ferment, and that is your sign to throw it away.
If your orange juice is opened days already, it is okay to suspect that it is already bad. No one will blame you for that assumption.
Is it safe to drink expired orange juice?
It is still okay to drink that expired orange juice even if it has already passed its “best by date” or expiration date. After all, these products were pasteurized to prevent pathogens that can cause food poisoning.
Other orange juice products can only last stay in the fridge for one or two weeks, even if it is beyond the printed best-by date (as long as it is refrigerated all the time).
There are times that you have realized that you opened a container of orange juice a few days ago, and you’re not sure how to use it before it expires. If you’re not up for drinking it, you can use the rest of the orange juice in chicken recipes, use it to add flavor to your cupcakes.