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Does Orange Juice Have to Be Refrigerated?

Does Orange Juice Have to Be Refrigerated?

Orange is one of the richest and tasteful sources of vitamin C. It also includes potassium and folate.

This is the reason why many people consume it in the morning along with breakfast to make it a hearty meal.

Since fresh oranges are not available all year round, orange juices in cartons and bottles are the best alternative to freshly squeezed orange juice.

Since orange juice is not protected by the peel which keeps out the bacteria, it must be refrigerated. In fact, even oranges that are peeled could begin rotting because the layer that protects them is peeled off.

Orange Juice Types and Refrigeration

There are three kinds of orange juice consumed in households. The refrigeration requirements for all three differ because of the packaging and the preservatives added to the juice.

1. Bottled Orange Juice – Unrefrigerated

Juice in the bottle is packed and sealed. Therefore, it is sold unrefrigerated.

But as soon as you open the bottle, the oxygen from the air allows the bacteria to begin growing again. As a result, you need to refrigerate the orange juice bottle that you have opened.

However, there are some precautions with bottled and capped orange juice as well. Even though it is protected because the cap is sealed, bottled and unrefrigerated orange juice is to be kept away from sunlight in a cool and dark area.

This is because the heat from the sun or the atmosphere can cause the bacteria to multiply while the bottle is sealed.

So, if you have purchased a bottle of orange juice, you should keep it in the pantry, away from direct sunlight and heat. As soon as you open it, it should go in the fridge.

The packaging on the bottle suggests how long it can be refrigerated and in how many days the juice should be consumed after opening.

2. Bottled Orange Juice – Refrigerated

A wide variety of orange juice is placed on the unrefrigerated isles of the superstore. However, some kinds of orange juice are refrigerated.

This kind of orange juice does not have preservatives that keep the bacteria from multiplying or might have some level of stabilizers to keep it from going bad. Therefore, it should be refrigerated.

The instructions on the packaging suggest how long the juice can be refrigerated for and till which date it can be consumed.

Many companies extract fresh orange juice and add some levels of stabilizers to sell it as refrigerated orange juice. They print a “use by” date on the carton or bottle.

This juice should be consumed within the use by date since the shelf life of these orange juices are less and you don’t know how long they have been in the shop’s refrigerator for.

Female taking a bottled orange juice from a fridge

3. Fresh Orange Juice

If you are preparing freshly squeezed orange juice at home, you should refrigerate it if you are not consuming it immediately.

This is because the vitamins and nutrients in the juice begin deteriorating when it is exposed to oxygen, especially Vitamin C.

Other than that, the fructose or sugar in the orange juice that makes it sweet is also a substance that breaks down the vitamin C in orange juice. The greater the fructose levels, the higher the vitamin C degradation (Source).

On the other hand, citric acids preserve Vitamin C content in the orange juice. Therefore, adding a lemon in the freshly squeezed orange juice is a good way to preserve the levels of Vitamin C.

However, even then, the freshly squeezed orange juice needs to be refrigerated. Though it is best consumed just as it is squeezed out to consume the maximum levels of nutrients that the juice has to offer.

How Long Can Orange Juice Stay Unrefrigerated?

Since the preservatives in the orange juice sold in bottles and squeezed at home differ, so does the levels of how many hours it can stay outside without refrigeration.

1. Bottled Orange Juice – Unrefrigerated

Orange juice that comes bottled has stabilizers and preservatives to keep the bacteria from multiplying, it can stay outside for 2-3 hours before it goes bad.

If you accidentally left a carton of orange juice outside and came back after 7-8 hours of work, it is better not to consume the juice as it would be harmful to your health. It may cause food poisoning because of the bacterial growth.

If you have purchased the unrefrigerated kind of orange juice from the store and must keep it in the car in the heat of the sun, it will probably be okay to consume for a few hours.

However, it is recommended that you keep the orange juice bottle in the plastic bag, at least away from direct sunlight.

2. Bottled Orange Juice – Refrigerated

The refrigerated kind of orange juice cartons would also be okay to consume even if they are out of the refrigerator for a few hours.

This means that from the store to home, it does not spoil because it was out of the refrigerator for 1-3 hours, given that it is unopened.

However, if it was more than that, you should probably smell it and check it visually for any signs of spoilage before consuming it.

If you have opened the bottle of orange juice that is sold refrigerated, it can go bad in as little as 2 hours without refrigeration. Therefore, as soon as you open the bottle of orange juice which is sold refrigerated, you should put it in the refrigerator.

3. Fresh Orange Juice

Fresh orange juice can stay 30 mins to 1 hour before the vitamins and nutrients in it diminish to low levels. This is because the juice does not have any stabilizers or preservatives added on to it.

If you have added citric acid in the form of lemon juice, it may be kept for up to 2 hours without refrigeration. However, it is best consumed just as it is squeezed.

If you want to freeze the fresh orange juice, you can do that as well, but it will still degrade the quality of the juice to some extent.

Glass of orange juice in the hands of a happy young woman

Summing Up If Orange Juice Has to Be Refrigerated

Orange juice is a healthy drink to consume during the day. Many drink bottled orange juice for breakfast because of its nutritional value.

Even though bottled orange juice is not healthier than the freshly squeezed alternative, it should be refrigerated to preserve the juice and keep the bacteria from diminishing the nutrients.

Freshly squeezed orange juice offers tremendous benefits. 

However, it is recommended that you consume it just as it is squeezed to assure that the fructose and the oxygen does not break down the vitamin C levels in the juice.

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.