Does Apple Juice Go Bad?

So there’s a bottle of apple juice in your pantry for quite some time now. You bought it two years ago and put it into a cabinet in the pantry, only to forget about it a few minutes later.

You decided to do some spring cleaning and noticed it’s still there, a month past the date on the label. Does apple juice go bad?

Or you put a half-open container of apple juice in the fridge a few days ago. Now you’re not quite sure if it’s okay to drink it. You don’t want it to go to waste, but at the same time, you don’t want to get sick from drinking it. What should you do?

If either of those sounds familiar, or you simply want to learn about storage, shelf life, and going bad of apple juice, you want to read this article.

Aplle juice with sliced apple
(credit: Alexander Mils)

How to Store Apple Juice

You should store apple juice the same way you store other juices, like orange or tomato juice.

That means that a bottle or cardboard carton of apple juice sold unrefrigerated should sit in a cool and dark place. Keep it away from sources of heat, and if it’s a bottle, make sure it’s away from light. That’s because both temperature fluctuations and light can affect the juice negatively.

The best place to store unopened apple juice is probably the pantry, but a cupboard in the kitchen will do just fine too.

Once you open the bottle or container, first and foremost you should remember to keep it sealed tightly. If it cannot be easily sealed, pour the juice into another bottle or an airtight container. Also, make sure you keep the liquid in the fridge.

Glass pitcher and apples
(credit: Jacek Dylag)

If you make your own apple juice, or you bought a container sold in the refrigerated section, you should always keep it in the fridge, plain and simple.

If you can’t use all the leftover apple juice within a few days, freezing it is an option. Frozen and thawed apple juice might not be the tastiest beverage on its own, but a few cubes of frozen juice added to a glass of water on a hot day can do wonders. That’s why I recommend you should freeze juices in an ice cube tray.


In short, you should store an unopened container of apple juice the same way it was stored in the store, and transfer it into the fridge once you open it.

Six mason jars with juice and cut fruit
(credit: Kaizen Nguyễn)

How Long Does Apple Juice Last?

Once again, let’s start with the apple juice sold unrefrigerated. Such juice usually comes with a best-by date, which informs you how long the liquid should retain its freshness.

That’s a fairly conservative estimate, and the juice in an unopened container will last at least a few months longer. It’s impossible to say precisely how long will it keep its quality, but you can assume it’s at least 3 to 6 months.

Once you open the bottle, the juice should remain fresh for 10 days up to even 3 weeks. As usual, it depends on both the quality of the juice and how you store it.

When it comes to the apple juice sold refrigerated, it usually has a use-by date on the label. Since it requires refrigeration, it won’t last forever past that date. You can safely assume that in most situations it will retain freshness for a few days past the date on the package, but that’s it.

Once you open the container, you should finish or freeze the liquid within 7 to 10 days.

For homemade apple juice, it’s best to drink it the same day you prepare it. But if that’s not possible, it can safely sit in the fridge for like 3 to 5 days. That said, apples last quite some time in the fridge, so they can wait until you’re ready to drink the juice.

(Similar guidelines apply to other juices, like orange juice (here’s how long orange juice lasts) and so on.)

Apple juice sold unrefrigerated (unopened)Best by + 3 – 6 months 
Apple juice sold unrefrigerated (opened) 2 – 3 weeks
Apple juice sold refrigerated (unopened) Use-by + 3 – 5 days
Apple juice sold refrigerated (opened) 7 – 10 days
Homemade apple juice 3 – 5 days

Please note that the dates above are estimates and for best quality.

Apple juice
(credit: thisisbossi)

How To Tell If Apple Juice Is Bad

Like other juices, the quality of apple juice degrades before it actually goes bad. The signs of that include slight changes in smell and taste.

In short, the juice is good enough to drink but not as good as it was right after opening the container. At one point you might find the juice is no longer palatable. That’s a sure sign it’s past its prime, and it’s time to discard it.

When it comes to going bad, the most common sign of bad apple juice is a sour smell. If the juice smells more like vinegar than fruit juice, get rid of it. Same thing if you notice any mold, changes of color, of it smells off. All in all, the sniff test is a quite reliable way of determining if apple juice is still safe to drink.

Last but not least, keep an eye on dates. If an unopened juice is 2 years past the date on the label, it’s probably better to throw it out. Same thing if you store an opened one for more than 3 weeks in the fridge. Or a homemade one more than a week.

1 thought on “Does Apple Juice Go Bad?”

  1. I hardly ever eat papaya. It’s so expensive and on this continent, it’s just not the same as fresh from the tree. But there was a sale and it looked so ready to eat, so I bought it. I had been dieting and lost about 12-15 lbs. After a week of re-introducing my best friend – butter, oils, nuts, dairy and some fruits, I was feeling sphelt and deserving of treats. so, the other morning after Pilates class, I was ravenous. I peeled and chopped this large, perfect papaya, doused it with lemon juice and ate half of it. A couple of hours later, I was still hungry and decided to make myself some guacamole. I had bought a bag of quinoa chips (later, reading the label, I realized quinoa was a minor ingredient among things like cornstarch and sugar – rats!)

    Right after polishing off the guacamole, my stomach went into spasm. I was thinking “what did I eat, what did I eat?” But I wasn’t sure. Had I overdone the transition from diet to indulgence? Was my gallbladder acting up? Was it appendicitis? My whole abdomen burned and ached. I felt like I had swallowed a bag of nails. I decided to do an enema. If something was obstructing, perhaps it would be dislodged.

    I am used to looking after myself. I live in a remote place where a visit to hospital is a big deal. Actually, it was a 3-hour trip. I had the car clock to tell me that the spasms were coming every 2 minutes. I was convinced that something was about to burst. It was a very long trip during which I writhed and yelled, thankfully alone in the privacy of my car.

    In emergency I was processed and left to wait for 2 hours. I began to feel faint and the nurse gave me a place to lie down.. the pressure was increasing and I was thankful there was a toilet nearby, as I vomitted quite violently. It was late, I was exhausted from the pain and I drifted off. Coming to the surface of consciousness I realized that the pain had subsided. I could see that I would be waiting at least another hour, probably 2. I told the nurse I felt better and I left, booking myself into a motel nearby.

    After the effort of driving, checking in, changing and washing up, I collapsed in bed. Horribly, the spasms began again. During the night I vomited twice. the taste was super alkaline and harsh. I awoke at 6 and thought I should return to emergency, but I had not the strength to dress, pack or drive. I vaguely thought about an ambulance, but must have passed out. At 8 I awoke and the pain was much less. I dared not trust it, but used this reprieve to gather my things and get back to emergency.

    I knew at this point that I was going to live. I was processed all over again. My tests from the previous night showed little problem. The doctor remarked that I did not look sick. He examined my aching abdomen and decided I probably was experiencing diverticulitis. I was not convinced, but, knowing i was out of the woods, I came home in great relief.

    I slept and rested and consumed many liquids. This morning it is 3 days since the beginning of this nightmare. there sits the papaya, half eaten. I consider tasting it… from the fridge I take the bottle of organic lemon juice and open the cap. The smell is very familiar!! Like ripe, harsh bile. OMG!! The lemon juice has gone off. The label says good until August 2015. I have had bottles of lemon juice in the fridge before, but this was organic. I don’t know if it was already bad when I bought it. I am guessing that I opened it about 10 days previous, when I ran out of fresh lemons.

    I have intuitively been having spoonfuls of plain yogurt. Now I think a wash of aloe vera juice would be a good idea. I am grateful to be coming out of this nightmare knowing that I don’t have an anatomical problem. But I can tell you I’ll be more careful. Food poisoning is NO picnic.

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