Does Cranberry Juice Go Bad

There’s this bottle of cranberry juice sitting in the pantry for quite some time. You build up the courage and check the date on the label. And it turns out it’s not some ancient juice. Actually, it’s only a few weeks past that date. Does cranberry juice go bad?

Or maybe you left a half-open carton of cranberry juice in the fridge a few days ago, and now you wonder if it’s still safe to drink.

Questions regarding storage, shelf life, and going bad of juices are posted online time and time again. In this article, we go through the most popular ones related to cranberry juice.

If you’re interested in learning more about this antioxidant-rich juice, read on.

Fresh cranberry juice
Fresh cranberry juice

How To Store Cranberry Juice

Like OJ and apple juice, cranberry juice comes in two variants.

The most popular one is the one sold unrefrigerated, usually in a bottle or carton. Almost always it’s mixed with other juices to make the flavor more pleasant.

For it, as long as the container stays unopened, you should store it in a cool and dark place, away from light and sources of heat. A cabinet in the pantry is the best option.

Once you open the juice, transfer the container to the fridge. And always remember to seal it tightly before putting it into storage.

The second option is the cranberry juice sold refrigerated. This one, as you’ve probably guessed, needs refrigeration. As usual, make sure it’s sealed when not in use.

Fruit drink made from cranberries
Fruit drink made from cranberries

Can You Freeze Cranberry Juice?

If you’ve opened the carton or bottle and won’t be able to use all of the juice before it goes bad, freezing is an option.

While the quality of the juice can be compromised after thawing, it usually works well in drinks or when added to water as flavoring.

For both purposes, the way you should freeze the juice is by using an ice cube tray.

Freezing the whole bottle or carton isn’t a good idea. The expanding liquid will likely damage the container, and that might result in a disaster in your freezer.

Cocktail with cranberry juice and lime
Cocktail with cranberry juice and lime

How Long Does Cranberry Juice Last?

Once again, let’s start with the variety that’s sold unrefrigerated.

It usually comes with a best-by date on the label. Since the juice is pasteurized and tightly sealed, it can easily last a few months more. The juice will likely stay safe to drink, but the quality will degrade gradually.

That means that cranberry juice that’s 10 months past the date on the label will likely taste okay at best and terrible at worst. Once you open the bottle, you should drink the juice or freeze it within 7 to 10 days.

The story is quite different when it comes to cranberry juice sold in the refrigerated section.

It also comes with a date on the package, but it’s a use-by date, that’s more strict than the best-by date. That means the juice will likely stay okay for a few days past that date, but that’s about it.

Once you open the container, like with the unrefrigerated variation, it lasts 7 to 10 days give or take.

If you juice cranberries on your own, drink the juice within 1 – 2 days.

 PantryFridge
Cranberry juice sold unrefrigerated (unopened)Best by + 3 – 6 months 
Cranberry juice sold unrefrigerated (opened) 7 – 10 days
Cranberry juice sold refrigerated (unopened) Use-by + 3 – 5 days
Cranberry juice sold refrigerated (opened) 7 days

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

A glass of cranberry juice
Image used under Creative Commons from Sam-Cat

How To Tell If Cranberry Juice Is Bad?

Like with other juices, the typical signs of it going bad are a sour smell, change of color, and altered taste. Of course, if you find anything else wrong with the juice, just toss it out.

Tip

People are pretty good at spotting food that’s unsafe to eat, so follow your gut in that regard.

If everything about the juice seems to be fine, and it doesn’t sit in storage for too long, taste the juice. If it tastes okay, feel free to continue using it.

Otherwise, for example, if it starts to taste sour or wine-like, toss it out. Same thing if the taste doesn’t hit the spot anymore. No point in drinking juice that’s unpalatable.