How Long Orange Juice Lasts Once It's Been Opened

Whether you are a fan of Florida's version or California's competitor, nothing beats a refreshing glass of cold orange juice. Pulp or no pulp, the tangy sweetness can be a great solution for both a shot of vitamin C and to quench your thirst. But depending on how long it's been there, your OJ can still go bad despite keeping it at the correct temperature in your fridge.

Most well-known brands of commercially processed orange juice all have similar shelf lives, lasting in the fridge for up to 2 weeks before being opened. Unopened OJ, however, can be left unrefrigerated for 3-9 months. But, after it has been opened and introduced to air and bacteria, it will only last for just over a week (roughly 8 to 9 days) when refrigerated. Both air and bacteria encourage spoilage, meaning the longer the container is exposed, the shorter the lifespan.

There is also the option of buying orange juice concentrate that lasts a year in the freezer. However, like other forms of OJ, its longevity is reduced to about a week once thawed. If you enjoy the freshly squeezed version, you will need to use that up even sooner.

Fresh-squeezed orange juice won't last long

One advantage to having a cool glass of freshly squeezed orange juice is that it doesn't contain any of the added preservatives commercially made orange juice possesses. However, those preservatives serve their purpose by extending OJ's shelf life. However, a homemade batch of squeezed orange juice only lasts for up to 4 days refrigerated. You can attempt to extend its shelf life by adding vitamin C, which will act as a natural preservative.

If you had a quick glass before bed one night and forgot to put the container back in the fridge, unfortunately, you'll need to throw it away in the morning. An opened container of OJ only lasts for 2 hours at room temperature before it will start to spoil. This goes for orange juice with preservatives you buy from the store and the freshly squeezed version directly from the source. After OJ sits at room temperature, it will likely be introduced to harmful microbes, making it unsafe to drink. It will also likely have an offputting taste. OJ past its prime can have an acrid smell or signs of mold growth, both clear indicators that it's no good. If your orange juice has a brownish hue, it's likely the exposure to air has oxidized it, or it could be evidence of bacterial growth.

Orange juice past its expiration date is always suspect

Purchasing food and drink with a best-by label differs from something with a use-by date attached. A best-by label indicates when the producer believes the quality of the product will begin to deteriorate — it's not an expiration date. Canned food is a primary example of how some foodstuffs can live far beyond their suggested best-by date. Use-by dates do not denote the goods as unsafe to consume after that time, but the manufacturer has concluded that the merchandise will no longer be of good quality after that date. If you see that your orange juice has passed its use-by date, you should check the product carefully to determine if there are any signs of spoilage.

There are some ways to keep orange juice lasting as long as possible. Opened OJ can be frozen if you don't think you can use it before it goes bad. It may lose some flavor and texture quality through freezing, but it will remain safe to drink for up to a year. You can also freeze squeezed orange juice, which only lasts 3-4 months in the freezer. When you see some open orange juice in the refrigerator and aren't sure if you can use it soon, it might be time to inspect it and see if it's time to preserve your liquid vitamin C by putting it in the freezer.