Can key lime juice go bad? As simple as it sounds, key lime juice can go real bad. Homemade juices go bad faster than store-bought ones.
So you might want to weigh in the pros when making choices between making your own juice or buying from the store.
Here are 11 key things to keep in mind about the shelf life of this delicious and beneficial fruit juice:
1. Homemade key lime juice doesn’t last long, even in the refrigerator.
This is because it doesn’t have the addition of preservatives and is not pasteurized.
It will last three to four days after you squeeze it, but it must be stored in the refrigerator.
2. Store homemade key lime juice in a sterile jar to prevent contamination.
Storing any juice you make in a sterile glass jar prevents contamination that can lead to mold, bacteria, and spoilage even faster.
Boil a pot of water and place your glass jar inside a few minutes to sterilize it. Then remove it with tongs and set it aside to use for your lime juice.
3. Store-bought key lime juice lasts longer than homemade.
Store-bought key lime juice lasts longer than homemade, but this is due to added preservatives and pasteurization.
Most store-bought key lime juices sitting out on grocery shelves are able to do this because they have added preservatives and/or are pasteurized.
This eliminates all the bacteria in the juice that may have caused spoilage.
4. Preservatives and pasteurization extend shelf life of products, but there are drawbacks.
Preservatives are routinely added to foods and drinks to help them last much longer than if they were made at home.
However, some preservatives have been linked to health issues like genotoxicity. Pasteurization eliminates bacteria in products as well, but can destroy some nutrients, especially nutrients like vitamin C.
5. Unopened store-bought key lime juice lasts longer than opened store-bought key lime juice.
Unopened store-bought key lime juice lasts longer than their opened counterparts and can be left out on the shelf for six months to one year (and sometimes longer).
Unopened store-bought key lime juice has been vacuum sealed to prevent contamination.
However, once this seal is broken, the key lime juice needs to be refrigerated and will last up to six months after opening.
6. Pay attention to the best by date on your store-bought key lime juice.
This can get rubbed off the bottle, so you may want to write it on with a permanent marker if you notice it is fading away.
The best by date is not a date that necessarily indicates the food has gone bad at this time, but rather that your product is freshest if consumed by this date.
7. Perform simple tests if you suspect spoilage.
If you suspect something has gone bad and the best by date is nearing, you can perform tests to make sure.
If food is nearing the best by date and you are unsure whether or not it has gone bad, you can smell it to try and detect an “off” or rancid smell.
You can also take a small taste to try and detect any rancid or foul flavor. In addition, you can pour some into a clear jar to closely examine the juice and look for contamination.
8. The FDA advises not using juices left out for more than two hours at room temperature.
According to the FDA, juices are considered no good if they are left out at room temperature for longer than two hours. If you know you left your juice out longer than this, it is a good idea to throw it out to prevent food poisoning.
9. Bacteria growth thrives in a certain temperature range.
A temperature range from 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit is considered optimal for the growth of potentially harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning symptoms. Unfortunately, most of us keep our hoses within this range. This is why it is so important to throw out juice that has been sitting at room temperature for more than a few hours.
10. Freezing key lime juice extends the shelf life up to four months.
This is an excellent way to avoid wasting your key lime juice. You can add the cubes to drinks, smoothies, or dethaw them to make salsa.
Cubes are the perfect size to work with when cooking or making drinks. Their small size allows them to dethaw rapidly as well.
11. Oxidation can occur when a product is opened, left out, or sits for too long.
When a product is opened, left out, or sits for too long (even in the refrigerator), oxidation can occur.
Oxidation is a form of spoilage that causes a product to break down. This is why we have recommended shelf lives for products.
Make sure you follow these shelf-life recommendations so you can get the most out of your key lime juice.
Now that you know more about the shelf life of homemade and store-bought key lime juice, as well as how long it lasts refrigerated, unrefrigerated, and frozen, it’s time to go take care of your juice!