If you cook, you have a pretty good handle on how long a dish is good for. But what about fresh juice? For those of us who have been juicing for a long time, we know the ins and outs of keeping juice fresh and what different variables affect it.
From a nutritional point of view, the best juice is a fresh juice so drinking it as soon as you make it is the best way to ensure you get every bit of the nutrition it can provide. However, many of us like to juice in batches so we can enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor for a few extra days. Even if you don’t batch, sometimes you just can’t drink it all at once. Either way, the question is how to keep juice fresh for as long as possible?
No two juices are the same, and neither are their lifespans, but there are a few general best practices you can follow to help ensure your juices stay fresh and tasty. Want to know more? Let’s dive in!
1. Keep Oxygen OUT
Oxygen = Oxidation = Nutrient Loss = Yucky Juice
Think back to the last time you cut open an apple. After a few minutes, the cut surfaces turn brown. That’s due to oxidation, a term for the process of degradation caused by exposure to oxygen.
You and I need oxygen to live, but juice (along with a myriad of other things that aren’t juice) and oxygen just don’t get along. So, throughout the rest of this blog post, you’ll see references to oxygen and oxidation and all the ways to keep it in check.
2. Know The Basics
Most juices can be stored anywhere between 24 hours and 3 days depending on the variables described in the rest of this post. Shelf life is primarily determined by how well you can keep oxidation at bay, but there are other things for you to consider:
- Cleanliness Is Key
Remember that you’re not cooking here, so any bacteria or other goodies living on your knife, cutting board, juicer, storage jars, and produce aren’t going to be killed off by heat. So be sure to properly wash everything before you use it.
- Lower Temps = Longer Shelf Life
This goes for the produce you use and the juice that you make. We’re not saying you need to stick all your produce in the fridge (oranges and other citrus are just fine on the countertop). We’re talking about more delicate produce that deteriorates more quickly than others.
If you’re not going to use up that delicate fresh produce right away, give them a nice home in the fridge to keep them fresh before juicing. And once you make your juice, store any extra in the fridge…unless you want vinegar brewing on your countertop.
- Keep No Longer Than 3 Days (5 Days Max)
Yes, we said earlier that the typical refrigerated shelf life for juice is 24 hours to 3 days, but under the best circumstances for some juices you can eke out 5 days. But use common sense. If it looks or tastes icky, dump it.
3. Set Up Your Storage
If you typically drink juices right after you make them, then you don’t need to think twice about storage. However, if you batch juice or if you simply make more than you care to drink in a sitting, storage matters. You need to know how to store it so that it will stay fresh and retain as much of its nutritional value for as long as possible.
- Turn Down the Temp – Set At or Below 40° F
Juice is no different than any perishable item in your refrigerator in that the lower the temperature the longer it will keep. Depending on what else you keep in your fridge, set it as low as you can (without freezing delicate produce, which can happen in some units).
- Use the Right Container – Go with Glass
We’ve trialed a lot of different juice storage containers and we’ve found the best is the good old glass canning jar. Go with a good brand, like Ball, to ensure good quality glass and thickness.
Juicer Test Kitchen Pro Tip: Why Glass?
1) Glass is non-reactive, meaning it will not interact with juice, so there’s no need to worry about plastic residues or other chemicals contaminating your juice.
2) Glass doesn’t breathe (low porosity for you science-minded folks), ensuring no excess air can enter through the jar itself to further oxidize your juice.
3) Canning jars are relatively inexpensive, both their initial price and the fact that they can be reused indefinitely.
Another consideration is to have multiple sizes of canning jars at your disposal. Why? See the next storage suggestion below.
- Fill It Up & Cap It Off – Zero Headspace = Happy Juice
This may seem like a simple step, but it’s an important one. When you fill-up those lovely glass jars full of delicious juice, but sure not to leave any space at the top.
Why? Remember our nemesis, oxygen? Oxidation is the key destroyer of juice nutrients so you need to keep out the O2. Do this by having those various sizes of jars handy so you don’t end up with a partially full jar on your hands.
Also, we love these Ball No-Leak Canning Lids because they REALLY ARE LEAKPROOF. (I’m shouting this because every other brand I’ve tried leaks like a sieve…so I LOVE these lids!) No leaks mean no oxygen is getting in, which means your juice will stay fresher longer.
4. Choose Your Juicer
The type of juicer you use will determine how long you can keep a juice fresh. If you’ve read What Juicer Should I Buy? – A Simple Buying Guide! you know that different juicers are better at preserving nutrients than others.
Here’s a quick list of those types and their effect on juice nutrition:
- Centrifugal Juicers – Suggested Fridge Storage: Up to 24 Hours
These racecars are great on speed but knock down the most nutrient value due to the oxygen they whip into the juice. If you plan on drinking your juice from this type of machine right away, then it’s a fine choice. But if you want to store your juices in the fridge for several days, you may want to go with one of the other types below.
- Masticating/Slow/Cold-Press Juicers – Suggested Fridge Storage: Up to 3-5 Days
This family of juicers takes things much more slowly than their speedy counterparts above. The advantage of this is that they input little excess oxygen into the juices, reducing the amount of oxidation in the extraction process. The disadvantage is that, well, they’re slower. We’re talking juice shelf-life in this post, so looking at nutrient value and longevity, this and the next type of juicer are both good choices.
- Hydraulic Juicers – Suggested Fridge Storage: Up to 3-5 Days
This type of juicer gives both the best yield and initial nutrient extraction due to its dual process of grinding and slow, intense pressure. Because it’s a slow process machine there are more nutrients, to begin with, so you can keep them around longer in the fridge before drinking.
5. Pay Attention to Produce
It goes without saying that the fresher the produce you begin with the better the juice and the longer it will retain nutrients. Organic versus non-organic? If both are equally fresh, then chances are the organically grown produce will naturally have a higher degree of nutrition due to typical organic farming practices. However, if you have to choose between old, wilted organic and crisp, fresh conventional produce, we suggest going with what’s most fresh.
The type of produce used to make juice can affect its shelf-life. High acid-containing fruit, for example, will typically last longer than those with a low-acid content. That’s why many people will throw in a bit of lemon or lime juice to otherwise low-acid juices to lengthen their freshness timeline (and a little acid makes juices taste better to many).
6. When All Else Fails, Freeze It
If you’re not going to drink your fresh juice within the 3-days suggested maximum timeframe, you can freeze it. Frozen juice will keep up to 30 days without significant nutritional loss. Just be sure to make absolutely sure you leave an inch or more of headspace in each canning jar. We know this is counter to our above recommendation when you store juice in the fridge. Doing so allows the juice enough room to expand as it freezes, preventing the jars from breaking and making a huge mess in your freezer.
No matter if you’re making an occasional juice or are a juicing machine, keeping your fresh juice fresh is a key part of a great juicing experience. I hope these tips will help you get the most out of your juice and encourage you to keep on juicing!
Tell us which of these tips worked for you in the comments below and Stay Juicy!