Orange juice has always been a member of the “breakfast of champions”, but it’s also a great mid-afternoon pick up on its own. The sweetness and little bit of tangy sour poured into a glass bring a kick that’s hard to compare to other juices.
While oranges used to be a luxury that was only enjoyed on Christmas, today, we can pick up a big bag from the grocery store and squeeze them all into a big pitcher. But, like everything else made from fruits, orange juice can go to waste if it’s left in the fridge for too long. So, in this article, we’ll take a look at whether you can freeze orange juice.
Can You Freeze Orange Juice?: The Short Answer
Even better, there’s not too much complexity in the process. You just need to choose a freezer-safe container and pour the juice in. Plastic containers like Tupperware work really well, of course. Another option is freezer-safe glass containers, like Mason Jars. One more popular option for making sure no orange juice goes to waste is using an ice cube tray. Once frozen, you can add orange ice cubes to drinks to cool them down with an extra dose of flavor.
Although you can freeze any orange juice (using any of the methods), there are different kinds of orange juice that will produce different results when they’re frozen. What we’ll look at is store-bought orange juice versus freshly squeezed, and at the amount of pulp that’s in the juice we’re thinking about freezing.
Store-Bought Versus Freshly Squeezed
One of the most important things to be sure of when freezing anything is making sure that it’s not already gone bad.
This is one of the main differences between store-bought orange juice and freshly squeezed orange juices—the former lasts much longer in the fridge. So how long does fresh-squeezed orange juice last? If you make the juice yourself, it will only last for two or three days in the fridge before bacteria starts to grow.
Once you open a carton of Tropicana or Minute Maid juice, it will keep in the fridge for about a week before going bad. That’s because big companies pasteurize (heat-treat) their juices to kill harmful and unhealthy bacteria from forming.
So, if you want to save some of your own orange juice for later, make sure to get it in the fridge quickly. It’s safe to wait a little bit with juices from the store, though.
How Much Pulp?
Many a breakfast table has been divided over this question, and while there’s no way to settle the dispute here, there is a right answer for those who want to freeze their orange juice.
The less pulp, the better.
To understand why we need to think about why water freezes into such uniform and consistent shapes. Water has very few large particles in it, so there’s nothing to interfere with the formation of ice crystals. Orange juice is, of course, much different.
There will always be sugars from the fruit in frozen juice—that’s what gives it the flavor and sweetness—so it’ll never freeze as perfectly as water. Putting orange juice with large chunks of pulp into the freezer makes the situation even worse.
What will happen is, as the juice cools down in the freezer, the heavy pulp will fall towards the bottom of the plastic container or Mason Jar. (You’ll have seen this if you ever left a glass sitting out for too long). Then, once it freezes, the bottom of the ice will be flaky and less consistent than the more pure upper layer. Not good for ice cubes, and not good for thawing to drink either.
So, if you’re freezing your own freshly squeezed orange juice, it might be a good idea to strain it beforehand. That will get as much pulp as possible out of the juice, and when you have the craving months later, you’ll get the reward. If you’re working with store-bought juices, think about buying some without pulp to save that extra step.
Some Tips, Tricks, and Usages
If you’re very thirsty for orange juice and don’t want to wait for it to thaw, you can put it in the microwave on the defrost setting. If you do this, be sure to drink all of it at the time—it shouldn’t go back into the fridge again.
Use the frozen orange juice for making cocktails, like screwdrivers, or non-alcoholic beverages, like Orange Julius. You can also use it for baking and other meals. Check out some recipes for both drinks and food (including a great looking Orange Mandarin Chicken).
Can you freeze store-bought orange juice? Yes. Can you freeze squeezed orange juice? Also yes.
Despite those easy answers, there’s plenty to be aware of. Keep an eye out for too much pulp, don’t wait too long before freezing your homemade orange juice. We’re sure you’ll be able to preserve orange juice so that it’s just about as good as fresh. Then, you’ll never be forced to go to the store to satisfy that craving.