At a Glance
- Juice can be stored for seven to eight hours if made with a centrifugal juicer, and up to 24 hours if made with a cold-press or low gear juicer.
- Citrus juices have a longer shelf life than apple based juices.
- To prolong juice life, store in a dark place in an airtight container at around 4 degrees Celsius.
The nourishing properties of fruit and vegetables have been widely known for many years, and health organizations all over the world encourage us to include plenty in our diets. However, in today’s hectic lifestyles, it’s sometimes difficult to pack in all the fruit and vegetables we need.
While it shouldn’t replace all of your portions of fruit and vegetables, including fruit and vegetable juice in your diet is a great way to top up the amount of fruit and vegetables you consume.
Since home juicers have become more widely available, home juicing has become increasingly popular and can be extremely beneficial to health.
We investigate the health benefits of juicing and look at what’s involved when preparing and storing your own juice.
Why Are Fruits and Vegetables Good for Us?
Fruit and vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. They also contain phytochemicals which give plants their color and flavor.
Many studies have identified that phytochemicals in fruit and vegetables have a detoxifying effect on the body, boost the immune system, regulate hormones and genes, and have antibacterial and antiviral properties. (source)
Phytochemical include antioxidants which essentially absorb oxidative substances in the body (free radicals) and have been linked to prevention of chronic conditions and diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. (source)
Making Your Own Juice
Home juicing gives you the flexibility to make your juice whenever is convenient, to make up your own recipes and experiment with new ingredients, and you’re safe in the knowledge that you know exactly what’s in your juice – no additives or preservatives.
For convenience, many people prefer to make up a large batch of juice in the morning – or even the evening before – to have on hand and keep them going throughout the day.
However, the lack of preservatives in freshly home-made juice can present a problem.
Some studies have shown that the nutrients in fresh fruit and vegetables can begin to deteriorate as little as 15-20 minutes after being cut open. This means that the longer we store our home-made juice, the more nutrients are lost – defeating the purpose of juicing in the first place. (source)
And that’s not all:
While the FDA recognize that fruit and vegetable juices provide many essential nutrients, they have received reports of food poisoning that have been tracked to consuming unpasteurized fruit and vegetable juices.
Just as there are many different kinds of bacteria naturally present on our skin, the same goes for fruit and vegetables.
When not properly prepared, these bacteria can end up in our juice. Even if the ingredients will be peeled; they can be transferred from the fruit or vegetable skin to the flesh via knives and other utensils.
Inevitably, there is usually some bacteria within most foods, and the presence of small amounts of bacteria are generally not a problem for the majority of people – in fact, many people believe the presence of bacteria in the body helps to keep our immune system on top form. Health problems start to occur when the bacteria is given time and the right conditions to multiply.
So when it comes to making our own juices, we need to make sure that we prepare them safely and if we need to store them, we do so in optimum conditions to preserve as much of the nutrients as possible and prevent bacteria from building an army.
How to Prepare Juice Safely
The first step is to make sure your work area and utensils have been properly cleaned. It’s good to get into the practice of cleaning your juicer right after use – the food deposits are most easily and effectively removed at this time, and it’s ready to go the next time you need it.
As juicing involves consuming raw fruit and vegetables, it’s important to buy the freshest and best quality produce you can find. This is the best way to get maximum nutrients into your juice.
Although cost may be prohibitive, research has shown that organic fruits and vegetables contain significantly more nutrients, and almost 70 per cent more antioxidants than non-organic produce. In addition, choosing organic fruit and vegetables can reduce exposure to pesticides and toxic chemicals.
One study found that the level of pesticides in organic produce was 75 per cent lower in organic produce when compared to non-organic, and the concentration of the toxic metal cadmium was significantly lower in organic fruits and vegetables than in conventional produce. (source)
The FDA recommends washing your hands with soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds before and after preparing fruit and vegetables.
The FDA’s guidelines also advise removing any damaged areas of the fruit and vegetables, and not using any produce that looks rotten.
All produce should be washed thoroughly under clean running water, and any fruits and vegetables with firm skin should be scrubbed well before cutting – even if you plan to peel the produce. Drying the fruits and vegetables with a clean cloth or paper towel also helps to eliminate more bacteria that may still be present on the surface of produce. (source)
Storing Home-Made Juice
When it comes to consuming your juice, the best plan is to consume it as soon as possible after making, to gain maximum benefit from the nutrients and reducing the risk of bacterial contamination.
However, this isn’t always possible, so if we need to store our juice for any length of time, there are steps we can take to keep our juice fully of those fabulous nutrients and keep bacteria at bay.
Not All Juicers Are Equal
If you plan to store your juice, it’s important to consider this when buying your juicer. Centrifugal style juicers expose the juice to higher friction and cause the most oxidation.
Cold-press juicers and juicers that run at a low RPM (revolutions per minute) cause the least oxidation during the juicing process. This helps to preserve the juice for as long as possible – essential if you need to store it.
An airtight container is a must – the more air that comes into contact with your juice, the more oxidation occurs, causing nutrients to be lost.
Besides, if your container isn’t airtight, it probably isn’t water-tight either, and you risk spillages and subsequent disappointment when you reach for your juice and end up with a big clean-up operation!
Over time, plastic containers – even those made of HDPE plastic – can release chemicals into the contents, and are best avoided. Despite the risk of breakage if you’re on the go, glass containers are best for juices – they can be cleaned at high enough temperatures and do not leach chemicals into the contents.
If they are chilled before use, this helps to keep the juice as fresh and free from bacteria as possible. Dark colored storage containers, such as amber glass jars are thought to be more effective at preventing oxidation than clear glass.
Whatever your chosen storage containers, use the right size to contain a single serving, and fill it as full as possible to eliminate as much air as is practical.
The less air in contact with your juice, the healthier and safer it will be. Some people even use a vacuum sealing device to eliminate air from the juice container.
If you haven’t made quite enough juice to completely fill your chosen storage container, add purified water to fill to the brim.
Adding a natural preservative to your juice is another way to help your juice retain nutrients.
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), citric acid, rosemary extract and honey can all act as natural preservatives, so adding these to your juice is a good way to keep it fresher for longer.
One possible idea is to gently place a slice of lemon on the surface of your juice to help minimize oxidation and bust those bacteria.
Use Cold Produce
The colder you manage to keep your juice, the slower the oxidation and growth of bacteria, so just as chilling your storage container keeps your juice fresher for longer, so will using chilled produce when making your juice.
Once your juice is made, don’t leave it hanging around in the kitchen – put it straight into the refrigerator.
Keep Your Juice Cold
When storing juice, it’s best to do so in a cold, dark place. The refrigerator is ideal if you’re at home, but not so practical when you’re out and about.
When taking your juice with you during the day, some people use a thermos flask, although having the juice in contact with the internal metal or plastic is not ideal. A glass container inside a cool bag with ice packs is the best solution.
Juice can be frozen for longer storage, but freezing juice causes more deterioration than refrigeration, and should only be done if absolutely necessary.
Juice can be frozen in ice-cube trays and added to all kinds of drinks. If you choose to freeze juice in a closed container, it is important NOT to fill it to the brim. Leave a couple of centimeters’ gap to allow for expansion.
How Long Can Homemade Juice Be Stored?
The length of storage time depends on many different factors. The type of juicer used is important, as is the type of produce you choose to use in your juice.
For example, citrus fruit juice can generally be stored for longer than apple juice. The storage container used will also affect how long your juice can be stored, as well as the storage conditions.
Take a juice largely made from apples kept at room temperature in a centrifugal juicer stored in a half-filled, open container in the kitchen while you get the kids shipped off to school. This will start to deteriorate and develop increased levels of bacteria faster than a juice made mostly from chilled oranges and lemons in a cold press juicer and stored in a chilled, dark glass container with an airtight lid which is filled to the brim and immediately put into the refrigerator.
Research has suggested that storing produce at a constant four degrees centigrade is the best way to prolong its shelf-life, so this would be the optimum temperature to store both your fruit and vegetables prior to juicing, and to store your freshly made juice. (source)
General guidelines for storing juice are around seven to eight hours if made with a centrifugal juicer, and up to 24 hours for juice made with a cold-press or low gear juicer.
Storing Fresh Juice: Final Thoughts
Juicing carries with it numerous potential health benefits and it’s great to create your own juices and unique recipes.
However, when making your own juice at home it’s important to remember the points regarding preserving nutrients and safe-guarding you and your family against harmful bacteria.
A clean work space, clean utensils and hands provide the optimum environment for high quality, safe juice production.
Fresh organic fruit and vegetables have been shown to provide more nutrients and less pesticides and toxic substances than non-organic produce.
Chilling produce before juicing helps to slow down the oxidation process and keeps numbers of bacteria low.
Take time to consider which kind of juicer will suit you best – especially if you plan to store your juices. Choose juice containers that are made of glass, and preferably dark in color, and for optimum storage, chill before using.
Consider adding a natural preservative, such as lemon to your juice, and maybe top it off with a slice of lemon too.
Keep your juice cold at all times – either in the refrigerator or in a cool bag with ice pack.
The best advice to benefit fully from all of the nutrients and safely control the amount of bacteria in your juice is to consume the juice as soon as possible after making, but if you need to store your juice, following these guidelines will help to keep your juices as fresh and healthy as possible.