How long is pasteurized apple cider good for?

Pasteurized apple cider can stay fresh and safe to drink for 1-2 months when properly stored. The pasteurization process extends the shelf life by killing bacteria and yeasts that can cause spoilage. Unopened pasteurized cider will last about 5-7 days after the “best by” date on the package. Once opened, it’s best to drink within about 7-10 days. Here are some tips on how to get the longest shelf life and recognize when pasteurized cider has gone bad.

Does pasteurized apple cider expire?

Pasteurized apple cider does technically expire and has a limited shelf life. However, the term “expiration date” is a bit misleading. With proper storage, the cider should stay good for 1-2 months after the date on the package. This date is actually the “best by” date, which indicates when the cider will start losing peak flavor and quality. It doesn’t necessarily mean the cider is unsafe if it’s a few weeks past that date.

The pasteurization process extends the shelf life of apple cider by killing bacteria, yeasts and molds that can cause spoilage. It doesn’t prevent it from eventually going bad though. Over time, the color, flavor, aroma and texture of the cider will deteriorate.

How long does unopened pasteurized cider last?

An unopened bottle or jug of commercially packaged pasteurized apple cider will typically stay fresh 5-7 days past the “best by” date printed on the label. Since the bottle hasn’t been opened yet, bacteria have not been introduced inside. As long as it was properly pasteurized and stored, unopened pasteurized cider lasts about 1-2 months from the packaging date.

Does pasteurized cider need refrigeration?

Refrigeration extends the shelf life of pasteurized cider by slowing down the growth of any remaining bacteria and the chemical changes that affect quality. For longest freshness, it’s recommended to store unopened pasteurized apple cider in the refrigerator if possible. Some cider producers recommend refrigerating after opening as well. If refrigeration isn’t an option, store it in a cool, dry pantry out of direct sunlight.

How long does opened pasteurized cider last?

Once opened and exposed to air, pasteurized cider has a shorter shelf life. It’s best to drink it within 5-7 days. When you first open a bottle of pasteurized cider, mark the date on the lid so you know when it was opened. Store opened bottles in the refrigerator and finish within one week for peak freshness.

How to tell if pasteurized cider has gone bad

Here are some signs that opened pasteurized apple cider has spoiled and should be discarded:

  • Fizzing or bubbling – This can indicate yeast or bacteria got inside and fermentation has begun
  • Cloudy appearance – It should look crystal clear, not opaque or murky
  • Mold growth – Check the top and bottom of the bottle for any fuzzy mold
  • Off odors – Cider should smell fresh and appley. A spoiled, yeasty or rotten smell means it’s bad.
  • Sour taste – An overly sharp, vinegar-like taste indicates spoilage
  • Leaking or bulging bottle – Don’t consume leaking, bulging or corroded containers

Does pasteurized cider need to be refrigerated after opening?

For best quality and safety, it’s a good idea to refrigerate pasteurized apple cider after opening. The cool temperature slows down chemical reactions that cause it to go bad. Refrigeration prevents yeasts and molds from growing as rapidly. If refrigeration isn’t an option, at least store it in a cool, dark pantry and try to use within 5-7 days.

Can you freeze pasteurized cider?

Yes, you can freeze pasteurized apple cider to extend its shelf life even longer. Make sure to leave some headspace in the container as liquids expand when frozen. Thaw frozen cider overnight in the fridge before drinking. Freezing stops the chemical changes that make it go bad. However, the texture and flavor may degrade over longer frozen storage.

For best quality, drink thawed frozen cider within a day or two. Don’t refreeze thawed cider. Make sure frozen cider containers don’t leak or crack as well.

Should you refrigerate pasteurized cider before opening?

Refrigerating unopened pasteurized cider can help it stay fresh longer. The cool temperatures will slow the growth of any remaining heat-resistant bacteria or molds. Refrigeration also inhibits natural chemical changes that degrade quality over time. If refrigeration is not an option, at least store it in a cool, dark pantry. Avoid warm conditions or direct sunlight which will hasten spoilage. Once opened, refrigeration is highly recommended.

Can you drink pasteurized cider past the expiration date?

It’s generally safe to drink pasteurized cider for about 1 week after the “best by” or “sell by” date as long as it was stored properly. However, the flavor and quality go down after the date. Make sure to inspect and smell the cider before drinking it. If you detect any off odors, flavors or carbonation, it’s best to discard it. With proper refrigeration, unopened pasteurized cider lasts about 1-2 months past the date on the label.

How long can pasteurized cider sit out?

It’s best to refrigerate opened pasteurized apple cider right away and not let it sit out at room temperature. The warmer conditions allow rapid growth of bacteria, yeasts and molds that can spoil the cider or make it unsafe. Only allow pasteurized cider to be unrefrigerated for a maximum of 2 hours before putting it back in the fridge.

Does pasteurized cider need to be kept cold?

Keeping pasteurized cider cold through refrigeration can significantly extend its shelf life compared to room temperature storage. The cool temperatures inhibit chemical reactions that degrade quality and slow microbial growth. For longest freshness, it’s highly recommended to refrigerate unopened pasteurized cider. Once opened, refrigerate and use within a week.

Can pasteurized cider be stored at room temperature?

It’s not recommended to store opened pasteurized cider at room temperature. The warm, oxygen-rich conditions allow rapid growth of bacteria, yeast and mold. Storing opened pasteurized cider at room temperature can shorten its shelf life to just 1-2 days before spoilage occurs.

Unopened pasteurized cider can be kept at room temperature for the 1-2 month shelf life before opening. Just make sure it’s in a cool, dark pantry away from heat and sunlight. Refrigeration is still best for unopened bottles as well.

Does pasteurized cider need to be refrigerated before opening?

Refrigeration is recommended for pasteurized apple cider before opening to help it stay fresh as long as possible. The cool temperatures inhibit chemical reactions that degrade color, flavor and nutrition over time. It also prevents growth of heat-resistant molds or bacteria that may survive pasteurization. However, unopened pasteurized cider can be stored at room temperature for 1-2 months. Just keep it away from heat and sunlight.

How long does pasteurized cider last in the fridge?

Properly stored pasteurized apple cider will last about 1-2 months in the refrigerator past the date on the package. The cold fridge temperatures slow down chemical changes that affect quality and inhibit microbial growth. Once opened, pasteurized cider lasts 5-7 days in the fridge.

For comparison, unpasteurized fresh cider only lasts 1-2 weeks refrigerated due to naturally present yeast and bacteria. Pasteurization gives pasteurized cider a significant shelf life advantage.

Should you shake pasteurized cider before drinking?

Shaking the bottle or jug before pouring can help improve the flavor of pasteurized cider right before you drink it. Gentle shaking mixes up chemical components distributed throughout the cider. It redistributes subtle flavor compounds that sink and rise over time.

However, avoid vigorous shaking which introduces excess air bubbles. Also don’t shake pasteurized cider that seems overly carbonated, as this can cause foaming. A gentle swirling or inversion of the sealed bottle will suffice to remix the cider.

Can you drink pasteurized cider after opening without refrigeration?

It’s not recommended to drink pasteurized apple cider after opening if it hasn’t been refrigerated. Keeping it chilled after opening is important to prevent bacterial growth. At room temperature, opened pasteurized cider may only last 1-2 days before excessive microbial growth causes spoilage.

To be safe, refrigerate opened pasteurized cider right away after pouring. Never leave it sitting out on the counter overnight. Consume refrigerated cider within a week for optimal freshness and flavor.

Is pasteurized cider safe for babies?

Most health organizations consider pasteurized apple cider safe for babies over 12 months old, as long as it’s consumed in moderation. The pasteurization process eliminates dangerous pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella that could make babies sick. Avoid giving babies unpasteurized juice.

Check with your pediatrician first before introducing cider. Since babies have low immunity, follow proper storage and watch for any signs of spoilage. Limit intake to 4-6 ounces per day. Never give cider to newborns under 6 months old due to botulism risk.

Why does pasteurized cider need refrigeration after opening?

Refrigerating pasteurized apple cider after opening helps prevent microbial contamination and growth. When you first open the bottle, bacteria in the air can get inside. The warm, oxygen-rich conditions of room temperature allow these bacteria to multiply quickly.

Cool refrigerator temperatures slow down bacterial growth, maintaining safety and freshness. Refrigeration also inhibits chemical reactions like oxidation that degrade the flavor. For best quality, drink refrigerated pasteurized cider within 1 week of opening.

How long can pasteurized cider be unrefrigerated?

For food safety, pasteurized apple cider should not be left unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours total after opening. At room temperature, bacteria introduced during pouring can multiply to dangerous levels after 2 hours. Only pour the amount you plan to consume and refrigerate the rest.

Unopened pasteurized cider can safely be stored unrefrigerated for about 1-2 months. Just keep it in a cool, dark place. Once opened, limit unrefrigerated time to 2 hours max before illness risk increases.

Does pasteurized cider need to be kept refrigerated?

Refrigeration is highly recommended for both unopened and opened pasteurized apple cider. Keeping pasteurized cider cold helps inhibit microbial growth and preserve flavor longer. The ideal storage temperature is 35-40°F (2-4°C).

Unopened pasteurized cider can be kept at room temperature, but will deteriorate faster from heat and light exposure. Once opened, refrigerate and consume leftover cider within 1 week before undesirable changes occur.

How to store pasteurized apple cider

Here are some tips for proper storage to extend the shelf life of pasteurized apple cider:

  • Purchase pasteurized cider from refrigerated sections for maximum freshness
  • Check “best by” dates and pick packages with most time remaining
  • Refrigerate unopened cider, ideally at 35-40°F
  • If refrigeration unavailable, store unopened in cool pantry
  • Keep away from direct sunlight and heat sources
  • Refrigerate cider within 2 hours of opening
  • Store opened bottles towards the back of the fridge
  • Pour out only needed portion instead of repeated openings
  • Finish opened cider within 5-7 days
  • Don’t let sit out for more than 2 hours after opening

Proper refrigerated storage and minimal exposure to air, heat and light help pasteurized cider retain the best flavor and maximize shelf life after opening.

Does pasteurized cider go bad?

Yes, pasteurized apple cider eventually goes bad and spoils, even though the pasteurization process extends the shelf life. Pasteurization eliminates most yeast and bacteria, but it doesn’t fully sterilize the cider. Over time, remaining heat-resistant microbes may grow and cause spoilage.

Oxidation and chemical degradation also lower the quality and freshness of pasteurized cider. Signs of spoilage include off odors, fizzing, cloudiness, mold and sour taste. Discard any cider that smells or tastes unpleasant.

Can you freeze opened pasteurized cider?

You can freeze leftover pasteurized apple cider to extend its shelf life past 5-7 days. Freezing stops microbial growth and slows chemical changes that degrade quality. To freeze, pour cider into an airtight freezer container, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.

Frozen cider may lose some flavor nuance over time. For best results, drink thawed frozen cider within a day or two. Don’t return thawed cider to the freezer. Make sure containers don’t crack or leak during freezing.

Does pasteurized cider have alcohol?

No, commercially produced pasteurized apple cider does not contain alcohol. The pasteurization process kills the yeast responsible for fermentation that can turn cider alcoholic. Store-bought pasteurized cider typically contains less than 0.5% alcohol.

On the other hand, unpasteurized fresh cider does naturally contain trace amounts of alcohol from fermentation, around 0.5-1%. Hard cider is fermented to around 5-8% alcohol content. But regular pasteurized cider is non-alcoholic.

Is pasteurized cider acidic?

Pasteurized apple cider has a mildly acidic pH around 3.4-3.8. This acidic environment helps inhibit bacterial growth and enhances cider’s tart, fruity flavor. Malic acid is the primary organic acid contributing to cider’s acidity.

The exact acidity depends on the apple variety. More tart apple juices produce cider at the lower end of the pH range. Acidity declines slightly as pasteurized cider ages during storage due to chemical changes.


Pasteurized apple cider can remain fresh and safe to drink for about 1-2 months past the packaging date if stored properly in refrigeration. Once opened, it will last 5-7 days refrigerated before quality deteriorates. Keeping pasteurized cider cold prevents microbial spoilage and maintains the flavor longer.

Check for signs of spoilage like off smells, changes in appearance, or carbonation when drinking pasteurized cider. Discard any containers that seem swollen or leaking. While not a shelf-stable product, following the proper storage and handling recommendations can maximize the shelf life of pasteurized apple cider.

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