Yes, orange juice can go bad. How long it lasts is determined by: if it's freshly squeezed or commercially processed, pasteurized or unpasteurized, and how it's stored.
We've all been there – you have a container of OJ in the fridge, and you're not quite sure if it's still good to drink. Well, we're here to help!
In this article, we'll discuss how long orange juice lasts and what factors can affect its shelf life. We'll also give you some tips on how to tell if your orange juice has gone bad and how to prevent it from spoiling.
Types of Orange Juice to Consider
These days, you have a ton of options when it comes to choosing your OJ. You can go for canned, sugar-free, freshly squeezed, or cold-pressed. All of these options have a fairly short shelf life, and if you don't store them properly or use them within a couple of days of opening, they can turn bad pretty quickly.
This is true even for cold-pressed juice or homemade OJ. The good thing about making your own juice is that it doesn't have any artificial preservatives or additives. This does mean it's more prone to bacterial growth and will spoil faster than the store-bought stuff, but will always have more nutrients and a much fresher and better flavor.
So, how long can you keep your orange juice fresh? Well, it really depends on a few factors. The type of juice you buy, where you store it, and whether you've opened the package all play a part. If you're drinking a commercially produced juice, you can usually find a use-by date marked on the package, which is a pretty good indicator of how long it will stay fresh.
Cold-Pressed and Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
Nothing beats the taste of fresh, natural cold-pressed orange juice. It has the best flavor, most nutrients, and makes for incredibly tasty juice blends. However, it does not have a long shelf life. Once it's been out for a while, pesky bacteria start to grow, and it spoils faster than other types of processed OJ. If you keep it in the fridge, it'll last for about 2 to 3 days tops. And if you leave it out at room temperature, you've only got about 2 hours before it's no good. Luckily, this isn't a problem if you drink it up right away. That shouldn't be difficult with the right delicious recipe.
Boxed and Bottled Orange Juice
There are two types of orange juice available in bottles and cartons – refrigerated and off-the-shelf unrefrigerated. Each type has its own shelf life.
First, there's refrigerated orange juice. You can't leave this stuff out of the fridge for too long, or it'll go bad. Just like freshly squeezed OJ, it'll only last around two hours at room temperature. But if you keep it in the fridge unopened, you're good for about 1 to 2 weeks, or the printed use-by date. Once you crack that seal, you've got 8 to 9 days before it starts to turn.
Unrefrigerated orange juice can last for 3 to 9 months if it's still sealed up tight. But once you open it, you'll want to stick it in the fridge and drink it up within 8 to 10 days as well.
Canned Orange Juice
Have you ever wondered why canned orange juice lasts so long? Well, the secret lies in the additives and preservatives it contains that prevent it from getting spoiled quickly. The orange juice is pasteurized, which means it's heated before being sold to kill any harmful bacteria. While this makes for a shelf-stable juice, it also can break down orange juice's nutrients and affect the flavor.
The shelf life can vary from brand to brand, but in general, unopened cans or bottles can last up to a year if stored at room temperature. Although it may still be safe to drink after several months, the taste may not be as delicious as it was in the beginning.
So, it's best to consume it within 4 months for the best taste. Once opened, it's best to consume within 8 to 10 days if refrigerated.
Concentrated Orange Juice
Orange juice concentrate is usually frozen to keep it fresh for a really long time. All the water is removed before it's compressed and canned or bottled. If you don't crack it open, it can last a very long time frozen. But, if you do decide to thaw it out for a refreshing glass of OJ, it'll only keep in the fridge for about a week. Keep in mind that once you thaw it, you can't refreeze it.
Signs of Spoilage
Orange juice tastes the best when you squeeze it fresh or crack open a new pack, but it won't stay fresh forever. If you leave the opened juice unused for too long, it'll probably spoil. If orange juice has spoiled, it means that the juice has either been invaded by microbes or has been ruined by oxidation.
Here are the tell-tale signs that your OJ is no longer drinkable:
- First off, if you notice the packaging is bloated, that's a clear indication that there's some gas buildup inside, meaning the juice has gone bad.
- Keep an eye on the color. If it starts to look pale or darker than usual, it's definitely seen better days.
- Don't forget to smell it! Fresh orange juice has a distinct fresh scent, but if it smells rancid, rotten, or like vinegar, it's a no-go.
- Check for mold too. If you see any white or green growth on the surface, toss it out immediately – it could be harmful to your health.
- Sediment is also a good indicator of spoiled juice. While some pulp is normal, lumps in a clear liquid are not.
- Lastly, give it a small taste test. If it doesn't taste like it should, with a sour or bitter flavor, it's time to say goodbye.
To get back to the original question about whether orange juice goes bad, the good news is that it doesn't, as long as you store it correctly and use it within the recommended time. But let's be real, sometimes you just can't drink it all at once. So, whether you prefer pulp or no pulp, there are ways to store it based on how you plan on drinking it later. Just remember, the fresher, the better!