Fresh, homemade apple juice is delicious and nutritious. But like all fresh juices, it only stays fresh for a day or two in the refrigerator before it starts to spoil. Preserving your homemade apple juice can extend its shelf life so you can enjoy it for weeks or even months. This allows you to make juice in bulk when apples are in season and save it to enjoy year-round.
- 1 Why Preserve Apple Juice?
- 2 Choosing Apples for Juice
- 3 Juicing the Apples
- 4 Preserving Methods
- 5 Storage Times for Preserved Apple Juice
- 6 Tips for Preserving Apple Juice
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8 Conclusion
Why Preserve Apple Juice?
There are several benefits to preserving apple juice:
- Saves money – Preserving juice means you only have to buy apples in the season when they are the cheapest. Buying juice year-round can get expensive.
- Convenience – Preserving a large batch of juice at once means you don’t have to juice apples every time you want a glass.
- Locks in nutrients – Proper preservation blocks oxidation, which destroys nutrients like vitamin C.
- Custom flavors – Tailor flavors with spices and other fruit when making a large preserved batch.
- Food storage – Having preserved apple juice contributes to a well-stocked pantry and emergency food supplies.
Choosing Apples for Juice
When making juice that will be preserved, choose apple varieties that are tart, crisp, and juicy. Some good options include:
- Granny Smith – Tart and crisp, ideal for juice.
- Honeycrisp – Sweet tart with lots of juice.
- Fuji – Sweet and mildly tart, makes great juice.
- Jonagold – Tart and juicy, with subtle honey-like flavors.
- Pink Lady – Crisp and juicy with tangy sweet-tartness.
Avoid mealy, soft varieties like Red Delicious. Using a blend of sweet and tart apples helps create a balanced flavor.
Juicing the Apples
Wash apples thoroughly before juicing. Cut out any bruised or damaged sections. Core the apples but leave the peels on – the skins contain beneficial nutrients.
Run apple chunks through a juicer according to the manufacturer’s directions. Masticating juicers are ideal as they fully crush apple solids to extract more juice. Centrifugal juicers are faster but don’t extract as much liquid.
Collect the fresh juice in a clean container. Avoid letting it contact metal, as this can cause oxidation. Yield is about 1 gallon of juice per 5 lbs of apples.
There are several ways to preserve fresh apple juice. The best method depends on how long you want to store it.
The easiest short-term preservation method is refrigerating. Pour juice into clean plastic containers or glass jars, leaving 1⁄2 inch of headspace. Seal and store in the refrigerator. Juice preserved this way will last 5-7 days.
For medium-term storage for up to one year, freeze apple juice. Leave headspace in containers as liquids expand when frozen. This prevents the container from bursting. Thaw frozen juice overnight in the fridge before drinking.
Hot Pack Canning
Canning preserves apple juice for long-term room-temperature storage. Bring juice just to a boil and immediately pour into sterilized canning jars, leaving 1⁄2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids, and process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes for pints or 20 minutes for quarts.
Properly canned juice will last up to 18 months at room temperature. Discard any jars with signs of spoilage like odor, mold, or “off” looking liquid.
Cold Pack Canning
This method is similar but doesn’t require heating the juice first. Fill jars as above, then lower into a canner filled with warm water. Slowly bring to a boil and process pints or quarts for 15 or 20 minutes respectively.
Preservatives help block microbial growth to extend shelf life. Common preservatives used for home juice preservation include:
- Ascorbic acid – An antioxidant that maintains color and vitamin C levels. Use 1/4 teaspoon per quart of juice.
- Citric acid – Adds tartness and acidity to inhibit bacterial growth. Use 1 teaspoon per gallon of juice.
- Potassium sorbate – Prevents mold and fermentation. Use 1/2 teaspoon per gallon.
When using preservatives, refrigerate juice for short-term storage or freeze for longer storage. Do not can juice with preservatives added.
Storage Times for Preserved Apple Juice
|Preservation Method||Shelf Life||Storage Temperature|
|Freezing||12 months||0°F or below|
|Hot pack canning||18 months||Room temperature|
|Cold pack canning||12 months||Room temperature|
|With preservatives, refrigerated||4-6 weeks||Refrigerator|
|With preservatives, frozen||12 months||0°F or below|
Tips for Preserving Apple Juice
Follow these tips for safely preserving apple juice at home with the best nutrition and flavor:
- Only use disease-free, unspoiled apples. Discard apples with any mold or damage.
- Wash all apples thoroughly before juicing, even if peeling.
- Use a mix of sweet and tart apples like Fuji, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, or Pink Lady.
- Drink juice within 5 days if refrigerating without preservatives or freezing.
- Leave appropriate headspace in containers before sealing.
- Make sure jars and lids are sterile when canning.
- Process canned juice for the full recommended time in a water bath canner.
- Label containers with the date before storing. Use the oldest juice first.
- Discard any juice that smells, looks, or tastes off. Do not taste food from bulging or unsealed jars.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does apple juice last in the refrigerator?
Refrigerated apple juice will stay fresh for 5-7 days. Juice with preservatives added will last for 4-6 weeks refrigerated.
Can you freeze apple juice concentrate?
Yes, frozen apple juice concentrate is stored well in the freezer for about one year. Leave headspace in containers and thaw in the refrigerator before using.
Is it necessary to peel apples for juicing?
Most of the beneficial nutrients in apples are found in the skins, so peeling is not necessary. Just wash apples thoroughly before juicing.
What is the best apple juice blend?
For balanced flavor and the right consistency, use a mix of sweet apples like Fuji and tart apples like Granny Smith. Other good blending apples include Honeycrisp, Jonagold, or Pink Lady.
How do you know if canned apple juice has gone bad?
Discard any canned apple juice that smells bad, looks cloudy, or has mold. Also, discard any jars with bulging lids or that spurted liquid when opened.
Can you water bath can fresh apple juice?
Yes, apple juice can be safely preserved using the boiling water bath method. Process pint jars for 15 minutes and quart jars for 20 minutes.
Preserving fresh apple juice at home lets you enjoy the delicious flavor and nutrition of juicing apples year-round. Proper refrigeration, freezing, and canning all allow apple juice to be stored for varying lengths of time. Follow safety guidelines closely, choose the right apples, and use the best preservation method for your needs. With preserved homemade apple juice on hand, you can give your family a wholesome treat anytime.