All fruit juices are healthy, but cranberry juice gets much more attention and is famous in many households due to its many health benefits, including treatment of UTI.
But if you’ve stocked up on this beneficial fruit juice or if you’ve made jars of them, one common question arising on your mind might be ‘Does cranberry juice go bad?’. Well, let’s find out.
Does Cranberry Juice go bad?
Cranberry juice has a higher acidity when compared to other fruit juices. Though this property allows cranberry juice to last quite long on the shelf, it will not stay fresh forever.
Like any other fruit juice, cranberry juice also goes bad. However, if you store it properly and safely, you will likely finish it entirely before any spoilage bacteria or fungus gets a chance to eye on your favorite juice.
This beneficial juice can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Though not very common, you can also freeze your cranberry juice if you want to save it for really long.
How long does Cranberry Juice last?
Before bottling or canning, the commercial cranberry juices are pasteurized. Generally, the expiry date on the packaging of fruit juices is found to be 7 months to even a year. But if kept unopened, your favorite fruit juice might last longer than you’ve expected.
Moreover, commercial fruit juices are often not pure fruit juices and have a lot of added sugar and preservatives. These ingredients prevent the juice from going bad for even longer.
USFDA suggests that when a perishable food item is left open and unrefrigerated for more than two hours, its safety and quality become questionable. So, if you’ve already opened the can or bottle of cranberry juice, make sure to refrigerate or freeze it.
Refrigerating the juice will keep it fresh for 2-3 weeks. However, when you freeze it, it may last for a year or even more if the container is unopened.
Homemade cranberry juice, however, do not contain any preservative and tend to spoil faster. So, if you’ve made some fresh cranberry juice, refrigerate it at all times and consume it within a few days if you don’t want to compromise on its quality and your health.
|At room temperature||In the refrigerator||
In the Freezer
Refrigerated Cranberry juice (Unopened)
|Quality and flavor decreases||Best by date + few weeks||8-12 months|
|Refrigerated Cranberry juice (Opened)||Few hours||2-3 weeks||
Unrefrigerated Cranberry juice (Unopened)
|Best by date + 6-9 months||8-12 months|
|Unrefrigerated Cranberry juice (Opened)||Few hours||2-3 weeks||
6 Tips to Tell if Cranberry Juice has Gone Bad
As much as you blame spoilage bacteria and fungus for destroying your favorite cranberry juice, these are equally essential for a balanced ecosystem.
Though you can fight these microorganisms to some extent by following proper storage methods, eventually, your favorite food item is destined to go bad. Here are some tips for you to tell if such bacteria have been partying on your cranberry juice or not.
1. Bulging bottles:
If the juice carton is bulging, it indicates that the juice has started fermenting. During fermentation, various gases are released, which results in such bulging. If you witness any bulging in the juice carton, throw it away.
2. Air bubble formation:
Likewise, if you see air bubbles rising to the top in the cranberry juice, it also indicates that fermentation has begun within the juice.
3. Sour or fermented smell:
A quick sniff can prove to be a quality test when it comes to juices. If you smell something off, sour or fermented smell, trash the juice container right away. Remember that the juice is only edible if it smells fruity and fresh.
If you notice that the color of the juice has drastically changed over time, there’s something wrong with it.
5. Off taste:
If none of the above criteria are being violated yet, you still feel that the juice has gone bad, taste it. If the taste is off or bitter, there’s a high chance that the juice is no safer to drink.
6. Trust your intuition:
Sniffing or tasting the spoilt juice is not something you should be doing if you already know that you’ve stored the juice for too long. If you feel that the juice has been stored for too long to still be fresh, trust your gut feeling and discard the juice right away!
5 Tips to Store Cranberry Juice
Now, with the help of the tips mentioned above, you’ll be able to tell if the cranberry juice has gone bad.
But who wouldn’t want to know a few more tips on how to store cranberry juice? By following these tips, you won’t have to trash your cranberry juice as you’ll finish it before it goes bad.
1. Don’t drink straight from the bottle:
If you plan to store your opened bottle of cranberry juice for a few more days or even a week, don’t drink it straight from the bottle. Drinking straight from a bottle/container will transfer bacteria from your mouth to the juice, which might accelerate the spoilage process.
2. Keep it away from sunlight:
The next important tip for you is to avoid storing the juice container, both opened and unopened, in direct sunlight or hot areas. Doing so might accelerate the growth of bacteria within the juice. Moreover, sunlight is also known to degrade the juice over time.
So, make sure to store the juice container, even if it’s newly bought, in a dark and cold area of your pantry.
3. Refrigerate it:
This tip might be the most important of all. Once you open the juice bottle, seal it tight and refrigerate it. If you don’t refrigerate it, the safety of the juice can no longer be guaranteed, even if the juice has been staying in the pantry for a few hours.
4. Pour your homemade cranberry juice in an airtight jar and seal while it’s hot:
Making your cranberry juice can be fun but, only if you know how to store it properly. Once you prepare your cranberry juice, pour it into heat-resistant jars while the juice is still hot.
Then, close the lid loosely until it cools down. Once the jars feel cold, seal them and refrigerate instantly.
Moreover, if you’re unsure if you can finish the entire jar in a day, store the juice in 2-3 smaller jars. This way, the juice will not succumb to constant air exposure, thus slowing down the spoilage.
5. Freeze it:
You can even freeze the cranberry juice. So, if you’ve made a big batch of cranberry juice or bought many cartons of it, make sure to freeze them. Frozen cranberry juice can last you up to a year.
The Risk of Consuming Expired Cranberry Juice
If the cranberry juice bottle or can has the best before or expiry date written on the packaging, it denotes the date until which the juice maintains its superior quality, not the date until it can be safely drunk.
So, even if the cranberry juice has expired, it is quite safe to drink it for a few more weeks or even months. However, it all comes down to how safely you have stored the drink.
On the other hand, once opened, the shelf life of cranberry juice decreases rapidly, and if stored improperly, you might see signs of spoilage sooner than you’ve expected. If that’s the case, trashing the juice carton should be a no-brainer.
Various spoilage bacteria feed upon the juice, and this process becomes more rapid if the juice is left at room temperature. Consuming such spoilt juice might cause minor illness, upset stomach, or even food poisoning.
Can you freeze Cranberry Juice?
Freezing juices is not something we practice commonly. But it doesn’t mean it’s not possible to do so. You can store frozen cranberries safely for up to a year.
And freezing them is absolutely effortless. Pour the juice into a freezer-grade airtight container and freeze it. You can even freeze the juice in an ice cube tray for a few hours and store them in an airtight container or bag.
You can then add 2-3 cubes of frozen cranberry juice to a glass of fresh drinking water or any other drink of your preference and make the drink even more exotic.
If you defrost the cranberry juice in a fridge, it can be stored for 3-5 days more. But if you thaw it in a cold-water bath or a microwave, you must consume the juice immediately.
With the end of this article, all the doubts you had on your mind regarding shelf life, storage, freezing of cranberry juice must have been cleared. Though we’ve provided you many tips on storing cranberry juice, the flavor of drinking it fresh is unparalleled.
So, if a market is easily accessible to you, it’s probably better to drink fresh cranberry juice rather than stocking up at once and worrying about the expiry date.