Orange juice is a staple in most refrigerators, and for a good reason. This bright addition to breakfast is full of healthy benefits, which we’ll get to later.
You’re here because you noticed that your kids left the container out on the table, and now you’re wondering, how long can orange juice sit out? When does orange juice go bad?
Generally speaking, orange juice can sit out for 2 hours at room temperature before it moves into the Danger Zone. The Food and Drug Administration warns that foods moving into the temperature area between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140˚F are at a high risk of becoming a breeding ground for harmful bacteria that cause food poisoning.
Can Bacteria Grow In Acidic Environments?
Juices from oranges, limes, and lemons are all moderately acidic and have a similar pH level. This acidity makes some people believe that they’re safe from nasty foodborne illnesses. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Did You Know?
Lemon juice and the others can spoil or contract bacteria, especially when they enter the Danger Zone between 40˚F and 140˚F.
This is a big range for toxins to multiply and produce much spoilage. It’s imperative to pay attention to this rule because otherwise, the orange juice might make you sick.
Tip: The best place to store all of your juices is in the fridge if they’ve been opened and the packaging requires refrigeration. Shelf-stable juices have different rules, which we get to later.
Types Of Orange Juice And Storage Requirements
Before we dive deeper into different ways to store orange juices, it’s a good idea to cover the varieties of orange juice offered to the consumer.
Orange juice that’s freshly squeezed is typically made right in the store, or the consumer makes it.
Even if the fresh oranges are pressed at the store, it’s likely unpasteurized juice and the same drink you’d create if you made it on your kitchen counter. Homemade orange juice is a healthy drink.
Fresh OJ should be kept in the refrigerator and is suitable for seven days from the day you make it. If you purchased freshly squeezed juice from the fresh market in your neighborhood, it’s good for seven days from the date indicated on the packaging.
Processed – Refrigerated
Juice that you find in the refrigerated section of your grocery store is most likely processed. All the leading brands you see go through a production process that ensures their juice’s shelf-life.
Most processed orange juice is pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria, which means it’s put through sources of heat for safety and prevention.
Processed orange juice is also good for seven days from the day you open it. There is a date on that packaging as well, but that is a sell-by date.
If you have an unopened orange juice and the sell-by date has passed, only keep it seven days past that date.
Unopened orange juice stays fresher because the containers are treated to lengthen the shelf-life.
Processed – Shelf-Stable – Unrefrigerated
This type of orange juice is the unrefrigerated variety and is found in the juice aisle of the supermarket. Shelf-stable juices are stored in treated containers like bottles, cans, or boxes. Shelf-stable orange juice is also typically pasteurized.
Shelf-stable orange juice, when unopened, is good in the pantry or cabinet for twelve to eighteen months.
When opened, that orange juice begins to expire faster. Opened bottles of shelf-stable orange juice will last seven days in the fridge from when you opened them.
Most frozen juices are concentrated, so you can mix them with cold water to expand the volume. These are sold in the freezer section of the grocery store and are easy to keep at home. Just pull them out and follow the directions on the can.
You should keep frozen concentrated orange juice in the freezer until you’re ready to make it.
When kept consistently frozen at 0˚F, frozen concentrated OJ will keep indefinitely. But, if you defrost it, you cannot refreeze this type of orange juice.
Once you’ve used a can of concentrated orange juice, it’s good for seven days from that date if kept in the refrigerator.
How Long Can Freshly-Squeezed Orange Juice Sit Out?
Fresh OJ is the best when it comes to nutritional value. One cup of freshly squeezed orange juice is only 112 calories and is full of calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Plus, there are no added sugars or preservatives. Just one cup holds a lot of required human nutrition.
Still, you should keep fresh juices of any kind in the refrigerator after the 2-hour time limit set by the US Department of Agriculture.
Their website says that’s when perishable foods begin to move into that dreaded Danger Zone, which falls between 40˚F and 140 ˚F. Bacteria thrive in this temperature area, so get it back in the fridge!
How Long Can Processed Orange Juice Sit Out?
Processed orange juice has a longer shelf-life as far as the sell-by date than a bottle of raw juice, but that’s pretty much where it ends.
It still cannot sit out longer than the 2-hour window recommended by the USDA. Orange juice stays fresher when refrigerated, and you don’t risk food poisoning.
This is just a reminder that refrigerated processed orange juice has to always be refrigerated, unlike a shelf-stable bottle of juice manufactured by the same corporation.
How Long Can You Leave Shelf-Stable Orange Juice Out?
Brands like Tropicana offer refrigerated orange juice containers, but they also provide smaller bottles that come in six or eight packs in the grocery store’s juice aisle. Producers can do this because the juice is packaged differently.
Shelf-stable orange juice that hasn’t been opened can be stored in a cabinet or pantry for twelve to eighteen months. This is a long time compared to the refrigerated variety.
Once you open a bottle of juice, it can sit out safely at the 2-hour limit set by the USDA. If you haven’t finished that bottle in the 2-hour window, get it into the fridge.
How Long Can Frozen Orange Juice Sit Out?
There are two types of frozen orange juice. The concentrated kind you buy in the freezer section and orange juice you freeze yourself.
Orange juice that you froze yourself will last in the freezer for almost a year. But, once it begins to defrost, you cannot refreeze it.
When it comes to sitting out, you should still stick to the 2-hour rule set by the USDA for frozen orange juice of any kind, whether you bought it frozen or decided to freeze it yourself.
If you left a can of frozen orange juice out for longer than two hours, it should be discarded. You should defrost frozen orange juice in the refrigerator because the outside of frozen food reaches the danger zone before the inside, and bacteria can run rampant.
Frozen concentrated orange juice should be mixed with cold water as soon as possible and always stored in the fridge. If you left frozen concentrated orange juice out for two hours or longer, throw it away.
Freeze orange juice in ice cube trays and then store them in a freezer-safe bag. They’re fun and add a bit of flavor and a vitamin boost to your water.
How Long Can Orange Juice Sit Out Before It Goes Bad?
The 2-hour time limit is pretty strict when it comes to leaving orange juice out. If you’ve left orange juice out for longer than 2-hours, it may be harmful.
There are signs, which we will get to later, but some bacteria can’t be detected by sight, smell, or taste.
That’s why sticking to the advised limit of 2-hours is so essential. Once orange juice reaches that Danger Zone we mentioned earlier, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and possible foodborne illnesses.
How Long Can Orange Juice Last?
Orange juice is only good when sitting out if it falls under the 2-hour window we mentioned earlier.
If you get a funky flavor, be sure to throw that away. If you have an opened juice that was once shelf-stable, it must be refrigerated within that 2-hour window.
How Long Does Orange Juice Last In The Fridge?
When you open your orange juice, it is only good in the fridge for seven days. Having this time constraint is perfect, especially if you hate to waste it. It will prompt you to drink a glass a day, so you get the much-needed vitamins and benefits.
Can Orange Juice Go Bad Sitting Out?
Sometimes orange juice will have visible signs that it’s gone bad, like turning slightly brown. If the juice smells funny, throw it away.
If it looks dark, throw it away. If it has a funky flavor, throw it away. You can never be too safe, and food poisoning can come with severe symptoms.
When milk spoils, you get a sour taste, but orange juice might not be that prompt to warn you. Signs of mold are not always detectible, which is why the USDA set that 2-hour window.
Orange juice is a gigantic industry, and professors like Dr. Keith R. Schneider are at the forefront of food safety.
They take a close look at the industry standards and a closer look at the product. Food poisoning is part of the reason people study pasteurization and other safety precautions.
Their work isn’t a desperate attempt to sell more oranges. It’s a passion to bring delicious orange juice to everyone.
Other Interesting Guides
- How Long Can Lemonade Sit Out
- How Long Can Yogurt Sit Out? [Soy, Almond, & More]
- Should Clementines Be Refrigerated
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.