Apple juice is a refreshing and (sometimes), healthy option when compared to sodas and other high-sugar beverages.
There’s not much worse than finding lumps of mold floating around in your apple juice, so what’s caused your apple juice to turn moldy? Can it still be saved and how can you stop this from happening again?
All these questions and more will be answered within this article, so keep reading.
The most common form of mold found in apple juice is Penicillium expansum, which causes “brown rot” in apples. This mold is common in soil throughout the world. If ingested, patulin (a carcinogenic metabolite) can cause nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, and vomiting.
What causes mold in apple juice
Apple juice can become moldy due to several factors, they are:
- How well the fruit trees were looked after and protected from molds and fungi
- How the fruit was stored after harvesting
- How the apple juice was stored after processing
In each of these scenarios, mold will have the opportunity to grow if the correct processes are not taken into consideration.
Mold needs a dark environment, a source of moisture, and a food source in order to thrive, and these can be found at each stage of the apple juicing process.
For example, if the apple trees were not protected against mold growth whilst the apples were growing and mold formed on either the apples themselves or the leaves of the tree, during picking, spores could leave the tree and settle on the apples.
If the apples (once picked) were left in a dark environment that was not adequately temperature or moisture-controlled, mold could easily begin to form on the apples.
And if the juice of the apples is not kept in air-tight containers and stored in a climate below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, it would create the perfect breeding ground for mold.
What kinds of mold grow in apple juice
The most common form of mold found growing in apple juice is Penicillium expansum, which is a psychrophilic blue mold.
This type of mold is considered to be one of the most economically damaging diseases of apples once harvested, as once formed, it can spread quickly and ruin whole harvests of apples.
The mold can produce a mycotoxin, which is known to be carcinogenic to humans. However, by use of fungicides such as benomyl or SOPP, farmers can reduce the likelihood of this mold growing in the first place.
What is the shelf life of apple juice?
Apple juice that is stored in a dry and cool location (between 32 and 39 degrees Fahrenheit), will stay good for two to three months after its stated expiration date.
This duration is extended for canned apple juices which can remain drinkable for up to nine months past the written expiration date if stored in a cool and dark place. Once the cans have been opened, they should be kept in the refrigerator and consumed within three days.
Signs your apple juice has gone moldy
The most obvious sign that your apple juice has become moldy, is clumps of a white or blueish/white substance either floating on top of the liquid, around the edges of the container or within the juice.
You may also find that instead of the expected sweet smell, your juice may have more of an acidic scent. This can be a signal that the juice has begun to ferment.
How long does apple juice take to mold?
If stored in a cool environment, such as a refrigerator, fresh apple juice can be kept for up to three days. After this point, mold can begin to grow and the juice can start the fermentation process.
If kept at a warm temperature, mold can begin to grow on and in apple juice within 24-48 hours.
What happens if your drink mold in apple juice
Ingesting even small quantities of mold from drinking apple juice that has gone bad has the potential to cause stomach upset and gastrointestinal discomfort. For people with severe allergies, inhalation or ingestion of mold spores can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks in those most sensitive to them.
Is mold in apple juice dangerous?
As previously stated, Penicillium expansum (also known as “blue rot”), can affect apples during any part of the growing and juicing processes used to create apple juice.
This strain of mold can produce the mycotoxin patulin, which is a known carcinogen and can cause nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal issues.
Whilst some people might suffer from only minor complaints, people with suppressed immune systems or severe allergies may have a more severe reaction to either ingesting or inhaling the spores created by the mold.
How to prevent mold in apple juice
The best way to prevent mold from developing in apple juice is to ensure it is stored correctly.
Once purchased, apple juice in cartons should be stored in the refrigerator to keep its temperature lower than 32 Fahrenheit to keep it fresh for as long as possible. This prevents not only mold from growing but also slows down the breeding of bacteria.
If the container has any tears or holes, it is possible that mold spores may have found their way into the container, in which case they may still be able to grow even at low temperatures. If this is the case, it is best to throw away the item.
Does freezing apple juice prevent mold?
Mold cannot grow at temperatures lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore, freezing apple juice will prevent mold from growing in fresh apple juice.
It is important to make sure you freeze the juice as soon as possible to ensure that there is no time for mold to begin growing before it is frozen.
Can you save moldy apple juice?
Unfortunately, once apple juice has begun to grow mold, it cannot be saved. Drinking or using apple for cooking when it has formed mold could cause stomach and gastrointestinal issues, so if you discover mold growing within it, it should be thrown away.
If you find mold in apple juice, it should not be consumed as there may be carcinogenic mycotoxins that could cause a number of health complaints if ingested.
If stored under the correct circumstances, fresh apple juice will last for several days in the refrigerator, so make sure there are no holes in the container it came in. Even mold on the outside of a container can cause health issues if inhaled, so if you see any mold on containers or cartons of apple juice, they are best avoided altogether.