Cranberry juice has several impressive health benefits. If you’re an avid cranberry juice drinker, you most likely want to know how long you can leave it in your fridge.
You probably asked yourself this question a short while ago- does cranberry juice go bad? Well, here’s the unfortunate truth. Yes, cranberry juice goes bad.
No need to panic yet though, because cranberry juice is so delicious that you’ll probably finish your supply before the best by date. You can increase the shelf life of your cranberry juice if you follow the proper storage process we talk about in this article.
What Is Cranberry Juice Anyway?
As the name suggests, Cranberry juice is the super healthy juice of cranberries, a berry that grows in marshes. The juice is popular for its antioxidant properties, high amount of nutrients, and most popularly for its ability to treat UTIs, especially in women.
Although according to Healthline, it hasn’t been proven to do a good job of treating UTIs, cranberry juice is still a very healthy drink. The juice is packed full of natural nutrients and is useful as a juice cleanse, an anti-aging agent (source), for improving digestion, and as protection against cancer.
However, doctors have warned that you shouldn’t use prepared cranberry juice. You shouldn’t even mistake cranberry juice with cranberry juice cocktail.
The difference? Cranberry juice cocktails have additional artificial sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup, that aren’t good for you.
Always ask for the real thing so you can enjoy all the perks that come with it.
How Long Does Cranberry Juice Last? Does Cranberry Juice Go Bad?
When you walk into a store to buy a food product, you notice that there is a best by date written on the bottle or carton. Cranberry juice goes bad too, but because of its acidity, it stays longer on the shelf than many other fruit drinks. Cranberry juice even tastes nice up till the point where it becomes vinegar.
Unrefrigerated cranberry juice can last several months after its expiration date. When you open it, make sure to use it up within 7 to 10 days, so it doesn’t go rancid.
You can also put it in your freezer to keep it fresh for a few days more. However, it won’t taste the same, because the quality will diminish.
On the other hand, refrigerated cranberry juice has a use by date printed on the label. The juice can stay good a few days after the expiration if properly refrigerated, but that’s the extent.
The lengths of time we stated above are merely estimations so you shouldn’t take them literally. For example, if you open your cranberry juice and drink straight from the bottle, the bacteria from your mouth can make it spoil faster, even when refrigerated. Proper storage and handling can also extend the shelf life reasonably well.
For homemade cranberry juice, you have to refrigerate it so that it won't get spoiled. After boiling and extracting the prepared cranberry juice, you seal it in an airtight jar while it’s still hot, and then you refrigerate it. This helps the juice stay fresh, and it can stay for months in your fridge.
How to Tell If Cranberry Juice Is Bad?
Do you have a bottle of cranberry juice that has been sitting in your fridge since forever and you want to know if it’s still suitable for consumption?
You don’t have to taste it immediately, instead, look for the following visual signs of spoilage:
Once there is any sign of mold growth, throw the cranberry juice out immediately. When cranberry juice goes bad, it starts to ferment, and that causes little bubbles to float to the top, causing the bottle or carton to get puffed out. The sour wine or vinegar taste is also as a result of fermentation.
Cranberry juice goes bad when it isn’t properly stored. Exposing the container of juice to sunlight speeds up the spoiling process. Improper sealing, exposure to bacteria, and inconsistent refrigeration can also directly lead to spoiling.
Be sure to look for the expiration date of every bottle of cranberry juice and practice proper hygiene and storage techniques to keep your cranberry juice fresh for longer.
How to Store Cranberry Juice Properly?
Cranberry juice, like most other fruit juices, comes in two options- refrigerated and unrefrigerated. Cranberry juice that you buy refrigerated has to stay chilled, while the unrefrigerated one can be left unopened on the shelf without a problem.
The refrigerated cranberry juice comes in a sealed bottle or carton, and it must be kept refrigerated always if you want to enjoy it. If you open it and you can’t finish it in one go, you can pour it into a container with a firm lid, and store it in your refrigerator.
Freezing a half-opened container of cranberry juice can extend the shelf life of the drink, although this might diminish its quality. A smart way of freezing your juice and still enjoying it in a drink is making little cranberry juice ice cubes.
You can also use that to add flavor to your prepared cranberry juice. You should always pour out the juice into a different container before you freeze, so you don’t damage the original packaging.
When you buy unrefrigerated cranberry juice, you have to store it unopened, in a cool, dry place, devoid of sunlight. The juice is best stored in a dark cupboard in your pantry. You have to refrigerate it once you open it though, or it won’t last more than a few days.
Unopened refrigerated cranberry juice is still good 3-5 days past its expiration, while you can still enjoy your unopened, unrefrigerated cranberry juice 3-6 months after its expiration.