Does Tomato Juice Go Bad? How Long Does Tomato Juice Last?

Tomato juice is a healthy drink in moderation, as well as a key ingredient in the alcoholic beverage Bloody Mary and some soups.  You’d think that since it comes in cans and it’s sold on grocery store shelves, it would last a long time, right?

Quick Answer

Regular unopened tomato juice from the shelf can last anywhere from three to six months after its “best by” date.  Once opened, it lasts from five days to a week in the fridge.  Tomato juice sold in the refrigerated section of the supermarket lasts around three to five days, while homemade tomato juice is good for about two to three days.  Frozen tomato juice can still be good anywhere from eight months to a year.

Here’s a handy guide to storing your tomato juice, how to make it last, and how to know when it’s time to throw it out.

Does Tomato Juice Go Bad? How Long Does Tomato Juice Last?

Tomato juice is kept in air-tight cans or bottles, which makes it last a long time until it’s opened.  Let’s look at each of the places that it can be stored.

How Long Does Tomato Juice Last Outside?

If you buy it in a bottle or can, tomato juice lasts around three to six months past its “best by” date or until you open it.  That’s because it’s been pasteurized, or sterilized when it was packaged.

Keep the tomato juice in a cool, dry, dark place until you open it. The pantry, a cupboard, or a cabinet are excellent places for storing it.  Any exposure to heat or light makes the juice break down a little bit faster, which isn’t good if you want to get the most use out of it.

Once opened, the tomato juice must be placed in a refrigerator within two hours if you want it to last.  Opening the package breaks the sterility and allows light, air, and contaminants to get inside the juice.

How Long Does Tomato Juice Last in the Fridge?

Some kinds of tomato juice need to be put in the refrigerator.  Those kinds of tomato juice are sold in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, and they can survive anywhere from three to five days.  On the other hand, homemade tomato juice lasts around two to three days.

When you open store-bought tomato juice, it needs to be stored in the fridge even if you bought it off the shelf.  It lasts from five to seven days.

Tomato juice should be kept in the back of the fridge, away from the door.  This minimizes any exposure to warmer air and light that could lead to it spoiling faster.  The best temperature is anywhere from 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Long Does Tomato Juice Last in the Freezer?

Tomato juice lasts the longest if you keep it in the freezer, especially if it’s homemade.  Tomato juice lasts from eight months to a year if it’s done the right way.  As far as I can tell, there is no difference in the amount of time between the different kinds, since they’re frozen.

The question is, how much do you want to store?  Smaller portions thaw out better and are easier to re-combine in case of ingredients separating.  They can be frozen using ice cube trays before you can put the tomato cubes in a resealable freezer-safe container.

If you freeze your tomato juice, don’t forget to write down the date you froze it on the container, along with what you’re freezing.  This eliminates any confusion and helps you to know if you should toss it or not.

Your tomato juice will be around for a long time, but it won’t last forever.  There could be a defect in the can, or it could have been left out of the refrigerator too long.  Always check the juice to see if there are any signs of it going bad.

How To Tell If Tomato Juice Has Gone Bad/How To Know Tomato Juice is Fresh?

Here are some signs that it’s time to throw out your tomato juice.  They won’t all happen at once; spoiling is a slow process, but when taken all together they show the whole picture.

Smell:  Does the juice smell strange?  This could be caused by things like fermenting or mold.  Either way, it’s definitely time to throw it out.

Taste: If you aren’t sure about the smell, try tasting a little.  If it tastes a bit off, toss it.

Discolorations: Pour some of the tomato juice into a cup.  Are there any discolorations?  Mold can grow on the surface or on the walls of the container.

Expanding container: Look at the can or bottle the tomato juice came from.  Do you see any swelling, bulges, or dents in its surface that happened for no clear reason?  This happens because the juice ferments or bacteria got into it and that causes the container to expand.

Damaged container: On a similar note, if you see any kind of damage to the container like cracks, leaks, rust, this is a good sign that the juice inside isn’t safe to eat.

In the fridge too long: If the container’s been open and in the fridge for more than ten days, throwing it out is a good idea even if you don’t see any other signs of spoiling.

How To Store Tomato Juice?

Storing tomato juice in the right place helps increase its potential to last a long time.  Let’s take a look at better ways to store it.

  • Always keep the container sealed and in the fridge after you use it.  If the container doesn’t have a resealable lid, you can put it into an air-tight container with the lid on
  • Keep the tomato juice away from any smelly foods in the fridge and freezer.  You know how tomato juice is famous for getting rid of skunk smells?  Tomato juice absorbs odors, and that might affect how it tastes
  • Frozen tomato juice needs to be kept at a constant temperature of zero degrees Fahrenheit, or around -17 degrees Celsius, for best results
  • Don’t forget to reseal the container tightly when you use it.  This is common sense, but improperly sealed tomato juice will spoil quicker.  Also, using the juice as few times as possible limits exposure to air and contaminants

Can You Freeze Tomato Juice?  How?

Do you have leftover tomato juice that you can’t use within a week?  You can freeze tomato juice, but not without some preparation.

  • Tomato juice can be frozen in a freezer-safe bag or container.  Any other container must be lined with freezer-safe material, like freezer paper or freezer aluminum foil, to eliminate the risk of freezer burn or cracks in the container
  • Leave some space in the container for the juice to expand when it freezes.  An inch and a half seems to be the maximum amount for expansion, depending on how big your container is
  • The freezing process changes the texture a little, mostly in homemade tomato juice, as the ingredients settle.  Stirring the thawed product should eliminate this
  • Store the tomato juice in the back of the freezer.  As I said about the fridge, the less exposure to light and warm air, the longer the tomato juice will last

How To Thaw Tomato Juice?

When you’re ready to eat or use frozen tomato juice, thawing it out can be slow or quick depending on how fast you need it.

  • The slow way to thaw tomato juice is the easiest.  Take it out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight
  • A quicker way is to run the container under cold water until the juice has melted enough to be liquid

Frequently Asked Questions About Tomato Juice’s Shelf Life

What happens if you drink expired tomato juice?

Hopefully nothing.  Tomato juice has been pasteurized, and its high acidic content helps to keep away harmful bacteria.  Check the container and the juice for signs of spoiling if you do.  But, the “best by” date exists for a reason, and that reason is giving you the best quality.  You could give yourself a stomachache, diarrhea, or really make yourself sick if you drink spoiled tomato juice.

Will freezing tomato juice affect the flavor?

I’ve heard that tomatoes are affected by freezing and their flavor is reduced, but this only seems to be an issue when the tomatoes aren’t at their freshest.  I haven’t been able to find anything on tomato juice being affected this way, so I’m going to say no.

Wrap Up

One last thing to be aware of is that these dates aren’t set in stone.  Tomato juice might last longer than the given dates, it might not.  But if you store it well enough, it will survive for a long time.

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