Can you drink expired Martinelli’s?

Martinelli’s is a popular brand of apple juice and apple cider that has been around since 1868. It is beloved for its fresh, crisp taste and fun retro-style glass bottles. But what happens when your bottle of Martinelli’s passes its expiration date? Is it still safe to drink?

What is Martinelli’s?

Martinelli’s is an apple juice and apple cider product made by the Martinelli Company based in Watsonville, California. The company was originally founded in 1868 by Italian immigrant Stephen C. Martinelli. Some fun facts about Martinelli’s:

  • Martinelli’s uses a blend of Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples.
  • In addition to apple juice and cider, they also make sparkling cider, sparkling juice drinks and apple sangria.
  • Martinelli’s apple cider is naturally carbonated and contains no added preservatives or sweeteners.
  • The juice and cider come in signature 10.5 oz glass bottles with an old-fashioned label.
  • Martinelli’s is kosher certified and fat free.

The most popular Martinelli’s products are the traditional apple juice and cider. The juice has a sweet, appley flavor, while the cider has an effervescent, champagne-like quality.

Do foods really expire?

Before getting into whether expired Martinelli’s is safe, let’s first examine what food expiration dates really mean. Many people think of expiration dates as an absolute cutoff for when a food is considered spoiled. However, that’s not actually true in most cases.

There are two main kinds of expiration dates:

  • Sell by date – This tells retailers when to pull a product from the shelves. Food is still safe to eat after this date, but quality may start decreasing.
  • Use by/Best by date – This is the last date recommended for use at peak quality. Food is often still fine after this date, but nutrients may start to break down.

With unopened shelf-stable foods like Martinelli’s juice and cider, the use by/best by date is an estimate of when optimal flavor and quality may decline. It does not necessarily mean the product is unsafe.

What happens when Martinelli’s expires?

So what exactly happens when a bottle of Martinelli’s surpasses its best by date? Here are the key changes to expect:

  • Loss of freshness – Flavors may start to degrade, giving the juice or cider a flatter, duller taste.
  • Nutrient breakdown – Levels of vitamin C and other nutrients can start to diminish over time after opening.
  • Possible texture changes – The juice may oxidize and start to brown, and separation can occur.
  • Bottle fermentation – With the naturally carbonated cider, pressure buildup could cause bottles to explode if left too long.

However, these quality changes happen slowly. An expired bottle that has been properly stored and remains sealed will still be consumable – though not at peak quality.

How long past its date can you drink Martinelli’s?

So how long past the printed date is Martinelli’s still good for? Here are some general guidelines:

Unopened Martinelli’s

  • Juice/cider: Up to 1 year past the best by date.
  • Sparkling juice: Up to 9 months past the date.

As long as the seal stays intact, unopened shelf-stable Martinelli’s can often last over a year. The higher acidity helps prevent microbial growth.

Opened Martinelli’s

  • Apple juice: 3-5 days after opening if refrigerated.
  • Apple cider: 1-2 weeks past date if refrigerated.

Once exposed to air, the apple juice and cider deteriorate more rapidly. But proper refrigeration can still extend the shelf life for a week or more.

How to tell if expired Martinelli’s is bad

Aside from observing the use by date, here are some ways to tell if an open or unopened bottle of Martinelli’s has spoiled and should be discarded:

  • Off smells – It gives off an unpleasant, rotten, or fermented odor.
  • Visible mold – Signs of fuzzy mold are apparent in the bottle or around the lid.
  • Carbonation changes – The cider loses its natural bubbly quality or seems flat.
  • Color changes – The juice appears brown, darkened, or cloudy.
  • Off tastes – It simply does not taste fresh, and has a distinct stale, cardboard, or unpleasant flavor.
  • Yeasty appearance – Tiny bubbles or yeast particles are visible in the juice/cider.
  • Bottle bloating – The bottle swells or seems under pressure.

Trust your senses – if anything seems off visually, aromatically, or texture-wise, do not drink it.

Can expired Martinelli’s make you sick?

Consuming truly spoiled, fermented, or moldy Martinelli’s could potentially cause illness. However, the chance of expired Martinelli’s actually making someone sick is very unlikely. Here’s why:

  • Preservatives – Martinelli’s contains no added preservatives, but its high acidity inhibits bacterial growth.
  • Alcohol content – Fermented products may yield trace amounts of alcohol, but not near concerning levels.
  • Pasteurization – The juice and cider are pasteurized, lowering the risk of harmful pathogens.
  • Tight seals – If the bottle seal is intact, the risk of contamination is extremely low.

The worst that is likely to happen from accidentally ingesting a small amount of expired Martinelli’s is some minor stomach upset. But again, this is rare as long as you watch for signs of spoilage.

How to store Martinelli’s properly

To get the most shelf life out of your Martinelli’s and avoid premature spoilage, be sure to store it correctly:

Unopened bottles

  • Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • Avoid storage areas that may get hot, like near appliances.
  • Refrigeration is not needed until opened.

Opened bottles

  • Refrigerate after opening and keep chilled at all times.
  • Screw the cap on tightly or use a stopper to limit air exposure.
  • Pour into a clean glass before drinking instead of drinking straight from the bottle.
  • Finish within 5 days for optimal freshness.

Can you freeze Martinelli’s?

Freezing is not recommended for Martinelli’s juice or cider. The liquid could expand and crack the bottle. Thawed frozen Martinelli’s also tends to suffer major textural changes, becoming watery or grainy. If you do freeze it, allow the bottle to thaw completely in the fridge before opening.

How to use up expired Martinelli’s

If your Martinelli’s has passed its prime but the bottle seal is still intact, you have options for using it up besides just drinking it straight:

  • Cooking ingredient – Use expired Martinelli’s as a sweet ingredient in sauces, baked goods, or vinaigrettes.
  • Cider vinegar – Allow hard cider to ferment further until it becomes cider vinegar.
  • Frozen pops – Blend with fruit and freeze into popsicles.
  • Apple sauce – Cook down with sugar, spices and a dash of water into apple sauce.
  • Cocktail mixer – Shake up with liquor and lime into fun cocktails.

The high acidity and strong apple flavor still works great for cooking even if the juice is no longer enjoyable on its own.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Martinelli’s go bad if unopened?

Properly stored, unopened Martinelli’s can stay fresh up to 1 year past its best by date. Eventually it will degrade in quality and flavor, but the bottle seal prevents any external contamination or spoilage.

Does Martinelli’s need to be refrigerated before opening?

No, unopened Martinelli’s has a long shelf life and does not require refrigeration. Simply store in a cool, dry pantry until you are ready to use it.

Can Martinelli’s make you sick after the expiration date?

It’s highly unlikely for expired but properly sealed Martinelli’s to cause food poisoning or illness. Discard any bottles that show signs of contamination like mold, fizzing, or a rancid smell.

How long is Martinelli’s good for in the fridge after opening?

Keep refrigerated Martinelli’s no more than 5 days after opening. The apple juice will last 3-5 days, while the naturally carbonated cider keeps for 1-2 weeks.

Is it safe to freeze Martinelli’s juice or cider?

Freezing is not recommended, as it can cause the glass bottle to crack and the thawed juice or cider will have poor texture.

The Takeaway

Martinelli’s is designed to keep well, but will degrade in taste and nutrients over time after its best by date. Properly stored, unopened bottles stay fresh for up to a year. Once opened, consume within 5 days (juice) or 2 weeks (cider). Look for changes in odor, texture, appearance and flavor to determine if an expired bottle is still consumable. While drinking truly spoiled Martinelli’s isn’t advisable, the health risk is low if it’s been continuously refrigerated. With its high acidity and tight seal, Martinelli’s has a relatively long shelf life compared to other fruit juices.

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