Last Updated on September 13, 2022 by Shari Mason
While shopping for orange juice, you may have wondered why some orange juice brands line the dry shelves of an aisle while others are in the grocery store’s refrigerated section.
Does orange juice need to be refrigerated? Is there actually more to it than the supermarket chilling the fruit drink for your convenience? Read on to learn more.
Table of Contents
Should You Refrigerate Orange Juice?
Yes, most homemade and even store-bought orange juice needs to be refrigerated because it can spoil after a few hours if left unrefrigerated (at room temperature).
Pasteurized orange juice stored on dry shelves does not need to be refrigerated until the seal is broken.
Additionally, frozen and refrigerated juice should be kept in the fridge when defrosted.
How Long Does It Last on the Fridge?
Freshly-squeezed orange juice can last in the fridge for up to two to three days (two hours in the pantry). But, it should be stored in a covered glass or tightly sealed container.
Opened orange juice lasts in the fridge for up to one week. However, we recommend you consume it right away. Since it’s already opened, it can go bad easily as it may be prone to molds and bacteria.
An unopened bottle of orange juice can last in the fridge for several weeks past its expiration date. A shelf-stable unopened carton of orange juice can be kept well up to 2 years (at room temperature). Additionally, packaged orange juice can be refrigerated for up to 10 days.
What Happens if You Leave Orange Juice Unrefrigerated?
An unrefrigerated orange juice will spoil  quickly. Bacteria and mold growth is possible, rendering it unfit for human consumption.
Pasteurized orange juice has undergone treatment processes, containing preservatives. So it can be fine even if it’s not refrigerated. But once opened, it is still susceptible to microbial growth like any other perishable food, especially in warm areas.
On the other hand, unpasteurized juices, created entirely from raw oranges and not processed, may degrade if exposed to air. So, these juices need to be refrigerated right away.
You won’t have any problems with the shelf-stable unopened orange juice (canned and bottled orange juice) as they do not require refrigeration. But, you should store unopened juices at the same temperature it was in the grocery store.
4 Ways to Tell If It Has Gone Bad
1. Smell the Orange Juice
Smelling the orange juice is one way to tell if it has gone bad. Open the bottle and smell the juice. If it gives off a sour or acidic odor (like spoiled apple juice), it has gone bad and should not be consumed. Also, you can taste it a bit to check if it has gone bad.
2. Observe the Texture
You’ll see the container has some dark patches, but those are molds rather than dirt. Molds can occasionally be seen in the juice itself. We suggest pouring a small amount of juice into a clear glass to test. It’s time to discard it if the color and texture have changed.
3. Check the Appearance
You can examine your juice product visually. Is the container bloated, cracked, or leaking? Is there discoloration or mold on or in the container? Is there buildup at the bottom of the container that is an unusual color? If you answer all those questions, “yes,” don’t drink it as it’s already spoiled.
4. Spot the Swollen Container
Check its container and see if it’s bulging. If so, that’s a clear sign of fermentation process, so we suggest throwing it out. It’s a good indication that your orange juice has gone bad.
Should You Refrigerate Pasteurized Orange Juice?
Pasteurized orange juice doesn’t need to be refrigerated (or at least until you open it for the first time). But once opened, it’s time to put it in the refrigerator. The best examples of this juice type include Tropicana orange juice and Minute Maid orange juice.
This is possible as the orange juice is pasteurized (like milk) to an intense high temperature to kill harmful bacteria  within the product. Additionally, this type of juice contains enough preservatives for longer shelf life.
Shelf Life of Orange Juice
|Fresh Orange Juice||2 hours||2-3 days|
|Shelf-Stable Orange Juice (Opened)||2 hours||8-10 days|
|Shelf-Stable Orange Juice (Unopened)||3-9 months||Not advisable|
|Refrigerated Orange Juice (Opened)||2 hours||8-10 days|
|Refrigerated Orange Juice (Unopened)||2 hours||1-2 weeks|
|Canned Orange Juice (Opened)||2 hours||8-10 days|
|Canned Orange Juice (Unopened)||up to 1-2 years||up to 7 days|
|Orange Juice Concentrate||Not advisable||7 days|
How should I keep my fresh orange juice fresh?
To keep orange juice fresh, keep it refrigerated. You can store opened orange juice for up to 3 days. You may also freeze it, but before freezing, make sure you store orange juice in an airtight container to keep its flavor intact.
Can orange juice be refrigerated after being frozen?
Yes, you can keep frozen orange juice in the fridge. It is one method of defrosting and thawing food for eating.
There are two types of orange juice when it comes to storing: ones that need to be refrigerated and ones that don’t. Pasteurized juices (like Minute Maid and Tropicana products) don’t need to be refrigerated, while freshly squeezed orange juice needs to be chilled.
However, once you’ve opened a box of orange juice, always keep it in the refrigerator, regardless of the type. We suggest drinking it right away to savor its flavor fully!
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