Is it safe to drink? Trading Places edition
March 24, 2013 11:12 PM   Subscribe

How old is too old to drink frozen concentrated orange juice?

I bought a few "paper cans" of Minute Maid frozen concentrated orange juice early last year, tossed em in my chest freezer and just unearthed them today.

They have expiration dates on the ends of the cans of roughly 15 months ago (Jan 2012) and 12 months ago (Mar 2012).

Are they safe to make and drink? They've been in the chest freezer this entire time and have never been defrosted. Thanks!
posted by Fiat124 to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Chest freezers have much lower temps than your average freezer, the only risk is it tasting off and frothing unreasonably- if you get a dilute solution with a bunch of froth at the top, taste it. If it tastes very bitter, throw it out.
posted by The Whelk at 11:25 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

If the juice was frozen the whole time in a chest freezer it should be fine; chest freezers have lower and more consistent temps that a "frost free" freezer that is part of a refrigerator. The expiration dates on these cans relate mainly to taste rather than food safety if they've been kept in the "deep freeze". Eventually the taste changes a bit with stuff that has been frozen a long time.
posted by gudrun at 11:39 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

They're certainly fine from a food safety standpoint; frozen temps keep the nasty bugs from growing. I'd open the cans before thawing and try to remove any of the extra crystalized stuff from the top/bottom of the cylinder which might contribute to a funky, freezer-burn taste. I bet some of the concentrate in my parents' freezer has been there for at least a decade and Sunday morning OJ always tastes just fine.
posted by maniactown at 12:10 AM on March 25, 2013

Sealed and hard frozen food is probably good for longer than your freezer is likely to run. The problems are almost always with the sealed part, freeze/thaw cycles due to frost free systems, or unnoticed power outages.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:16 AM on March 25, 2013

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service has a series of fact sheets on safe food handling, including one on Freezing and Food Safety. It says "Food stored constantly at 0 °F will always be safe. Only the quality suffers with lengthy freezer storage."

So if your freezer has been below zero °F the entire time, your concentrated orange juice is safe to consume, although it may not be as appetizing as it was when freshly purchased.
posted by RichardP at 6:34 AM on March 25, 2013

Expiration dates aren't safety-based (Except for infant formula) they're "Best by" dates. As you cross the date printed on the can, the product becomes "less tasty."

A great article about this aired on NPR a while back.
posted by endotoxin at 9:09 AM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

"How old is too old to drink frozen concentrated orange juice?"

As a rule, I wouldn't eat any frozen OJ older than I am. This sounds considerably younger than that. "Expiration dates" are marketing bullshit.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:02 PM on March 25, 2013

Thanks for all the excellent answers! It didnt occur to me that keeping it in the chest freezer would lengthen its shelf life so to speak, but it makes sense to keep long term stuff there instead of in a frost-free freezer that heats up now and then to remove the frost.

I'll start with the oldest can and make note of the frothiness and taste of the OJ and should any of them taste off, I'll just pour them out.

Thanks again!
posted by Fiat124 at 11:48 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

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