Let me tell you something from experience – it’s not easy to devote your time to making juice every day. Between work, kids, and chores, you might feel too exhausted to even step into the kitchen, yet a glass of fresh, homemade juice is just the thing you need to make you feel revived and revitalized. Of course, if you’re reading this, it means that you already thought of the most logical solution to that issue – making your juice in advance and storing it in the fridge. So, today I’ll deal with the question of homemade juice shelf life and I’ll also give you some tips to store your juice better and make it last longer!
The Short Answer
It’s plain and simple: how long your juice lasts depends on your juicer.
1. Centrifugal Juicer
If you have a fast-spinning, centrifugal juicer, your best bet is making the juice when you feel like drinking it. Centrifugal machines are among the best priced juicers on the market. These juicers are super quick, but they also oxidize juice more. Because of that, a glass of juice from a centrifugal juicer is not likely to stay good past the 24-hour mark, even if you store it in perfect conditions. The more realistic lifespan of juice made in the centrifugal juicer is about four hours if it’s outside the fridge. You do not have to rush to gulp it down as soon as it’s out of the juicer, but you shouldn’t wait until it turns brown either!
2. Masticating Juicer
Juice from cold-press, slow, or masticating juicers is generally considered higher quality because this type of machine doesn’t oxidize produce as it pulverizes it. However, as one of its names suggests, this type of juicer is slow. Juicing with a masticating machine takes twice the time it takes with a centrifugal juicer, so making juice on the spot is more difficult and time-consuming. Luckily, the juice from masticating juicers also has a longer shelf life – you can store juice between two and three days before it goes bad.
Why Does Juice Go Bad?
Get an apple, chop it in half, and let it sit on the table for a few hours. Once you come back, the exposed part of the fruit will be brown and quite unappetizing. This process happens due to oxidation – contact of the fruit cells with oxygen.
When you juice your produce, your juicer cuts up, grinds, and squeezes the fruit. In centrifugal juicers, a lot of oxygen is introduced into juice because it spins super-fast. Since masticating juicers process your produce slowly, it doesn’t come into so much contact with oxygen, letting this type of juice stay good for a longer time.
Once your drink turns completely brown – it’s time to discard it. If it has only oxidized, it won’t do you any harm, but it won’t taste good either. Oxidation might not give you food poisoning, but it’s definitely far less nutritious than fresh juice. However, after a while, the bacteria that naturally exist in your juice (unless you pasteurize it) will make the juice spoil. At this point, the juice is no longer safe to drink, and you should throw it out.
How Do I Know If My Juice Is Good To Drink?
Few things are worse than biting right into a piece of fruit, only to feel that sour, alcoholic taste of spoiled produce. Naturally, you want to avoid that with your drink, but whether the juice is still good or not is not always obvious at first glance.
If your juice has gone bad, you should first and foremost rely on your sense of smell to let you know. I always sniff my juice before drinking it, especially if it’s been in the fridge for longer than 10-ish hours. It doesn’t necessarily have to smell rancid, but if the smell is stronger than it should be or you simply feel it’s different than when you first made the juice, it might still be okay but I’d recommend to toss it. Better safe than sorry.
Furthermore, you should inspect the color of the juice, especially the uppermost layer. If the juice is just a little separated that’s nothing to worry about, but if you see a brown layer on the top, you shouldn’t risk it. Because of this, you shouldn’t shake your juice before you get the chance to take a good look at it. While it’s natural for your homemade juice to go brown over time, this should happen slowly and evenly.
1. Oops! I Drank Some Bad Juice!
If you were feeling parched and gulped down your juice before inspecting it well, and realized the juice is bad just as it was sliding down your throat, chances are that there’s nothing to worry about.
The most common effect of drinking natural, homemade juice past its prime is common, mild food poisoning. Depending on the amount you had, you might have an upset stomach, cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.
During this time it’s crucial to stay properly hydrated. I highly recommend drinking mild lemonade and tea. If you can handle it, a bit of fresh juice from your juicer is a great idea as well as it will replenish your fluids and give you some much-needed nutrients, especially if you vomited.
Food poisoning typically lasts between one and two days, depending on your overall health, the severity of the poisoning, and how much bad juice you consumed. If your symptoms persist for longer than three days, or you get a fever higher than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, you should see a doctor.
Tips to Make Your Juice Stay Fresh Longer
It’s extremely important to properly store any juice you won’t drink right away. You should always keep your juice in the fridge.
If you can afford it, you can get a mini-fridge specifically for your juice because it’d be ideal to store it at a lower temperature than non-processed produce. While you should store your food items in temperatures around 40° F, juice should be kept in significantly colder conditions – ideally around 34° F.
Not everyone can afford or find space for a special juice fridge and that’s okay. If that’s the case for you, try to find out (or figure out) which part of your fridge is the coldest. If you have a fridge-freezer combo, the fridge shelf closest to the freezer should have the lowest temperature.
Don’t store your juice in the freezer, unless you want to store it for a longer time period. Once your juice is frozen, make sure it’s completely unfrozen before drinking.
2. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy
Adding citrus is a great way to keep your juice fresh for a long time, and it also makes it super tasty as well! As you already know, most citruses are chockfull of Vitamin C. This vitamin, also known as ascorbic acid, is a great natural preservative and anti-oxidant. Adding just a bit of lemon juice into your drink will seriously slow down the oxidation process, letting your drink stay fresh and tasty for a long while!
3. No Air
Minimizing air inside your juice container is extremely important for proper storage. As I already mentioned, air, or more precisely the oxygen in the air is responsible for your juice going brown, losing its nutritional value, and eventually turning sour.
Most people use glass jars with lids to store their juice. Try to fill the jar to the brim so that only a minimal amount of air is left inside the jar when you close it. If you can, consider getting a vacuum sealer for jars – this is the best way to keep your juice smelling and tasting amazing even after a day or two!
Bacteria and naturally present contamination are responsible for your juice going bad. If you want to remove bacteria from your juice, you will sacrifice a small portion of nutrients and some flavor for a safe juice that can last up to three months (yes, months).
Pasteurization is a process of heating up your juice for a certain time in a controlled setting. People with compromised immune systems, children, and pregnant women often chose to pasteurize their healthy drinks to make them safer. You can learn more about pasteurized juice here.
And That’s It
Drinking homemade juice is best when the juice is fresh, right out of the machine. However, most people lead busy lifestyles which makes it difficult to devote time to juice every single day. Luckily, that doesn’t mean that you must skip out on the vital nutrients you get from juice – you simply need to store your juice properly!