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We use juices for all kinds of things in the kitchen. From using as a base for sauces to adding to smoothies, juice has a lot to offer. While so many might think of juice as just something that you buy and consume very quickly, the truth is that there are many options out there that are suitable for longer storage than you realize. This post is going to discuss a range of options from cans for your every day use over 6 months to options that last longer. I encourage you to do your own research as well since I can only feature so many options in a single post.
A Note On Juice Origins
It is important to check labels and descriptions when buying juice. There is always a country of origin and in some cases there may be multiple countries. In today’s global economy, the less costly juices are often blends from several countries. If this is not ok with you then the other option is to pay more. I like to buy 100% USA juices too but this is not possible with some fruits and if I want something affordable for mid length emergencies, the blends are the way to go.
From Concentrate or Not?
Concentrates that are of good quality are the best choice if space is limited. Some more affordable ready to drink juices are from concentrate as well. Personally I have had a good experience with concentrates but at the same time, I don’t buy the cheapest concentrate in the store nor anything that has artificial flavors in it.
Sweeteners In Juice
You do need to be careful about added sweeteners in some juices especially blends. Look at the label and see if there is anything added and what percentage juice you are actually buying. Sometimes a product that appears to be juice is 50% or less. Things that are labeled as fruit nectars tend to be very sweet either naturally or with the addition of sugar.
High Fructose Corn Syrup is something that one must be aware of. It is a cheap filler and not good for you. A little in your diet is one thing but the amount that occurs in beverages can really add up and lead to health issues.
If you are a single person or couple or simply like the convenience of smaller containers, this juice is an excellent option. As far as mainstream brands go, I have been happy with the quality and flavor I get from Ocean Spray products. The juice is a blend from concentrate and it is foreign but the price is really good and thousands of people swear by the taste. Currently, this is a steal on Amazon. As far as shelf life goes, I get the impression that there is just a 6 month or so shelf life on the stuff you get off Amazon. The general rule is 6-9 months when you order canned juices. At this price though, it may be worth it to have a few cases of this for your short to mid-length food stash.
I plan on using mine for smoothies, breakfast, and sauces mostly. You can also make a wonderfully refreshing beverage by mixing juice with sparkling water. I used to really love Orangina but it is expensive and not the easiest to find. Since we make our own seltzer water, I can save space too.
Orange Juice Powder
I have found orange juice powder online and people seem to like it but I have not actually experimented with using any of it myself. I am intrigued by the possibility of having something that is actually juice in a dried format rather than the awful orange drink mixes that are often thrown into survival food packs marketed to the masses. I am including a link to the orange juice powder I found. If you have tried any powdered OJ please share your experience in the comments below. I will update if I order any later on.
Other Powdered Juices
There are other powdered juices out there that vary in price and quality. Blueberry and tangerine are a few that I saw. Of course, the alternative is powdered electrolyte solutions that have a similar flavor to juice. I wrote an article that gives a lot of options. Here is the link.
Canned Condensed Juices
A lot of people buy juice concentrates. Black cherry and tart cherry juice is often sold this way at major grocery stores. I really enjoy the convienence of it and how much space it saves. 1 pint of cherry juice concentrate will make up to gallon of juice when mixed to average strength. It will also flavor a lot of seltzer water and smoothies.
I recently became a bigger pomegranate enthusiast. Getting and eating the actual fruit is a hassle though so the juice is the way to go. I like to use the concentrate as a flavoring agent. Although it is mostly used in the typical smoothies and seltzers I plan on using it in a homemade sherbert recipe using my KitchenAid Stand Mixer Ice Cream Maker attachment. I have made frozen yogurt with it but not sherbert.
Premium Jar Juices
These are juices that are very good and high quality but the price point and the amount of space they take up make them products that I cannot recommend for major stockpiling. I am including them because it is nice to have a treat once in awhile and they are a way to have a juice on hand that is closer in quality to what you would expect from premium juices in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. So while you are not going to want to put back a lot of these, there is nothing wrong with having some quarts on hand for winter for example or if you have to stay home for a month and want exceptional quality.
I have used Lakewood juices in the past and they are very good. This orange juice can be found at Vitacost or other online health food retailers. I advise using them because you can often find very good coupons that help reduce the cost. Amazon can be higher than other retailers.
This juice is not from concentrate and is formulated to taste as close to fresh squeezed as you can get out of a jarred juice.
As far as I know, this juice is all from US Growers.
The glass jars could be nice to reuse as well. The lids would need to be replaced after so long.
Lime and Lemon Juice
For us, this is essential to have on hand. Since we make most of our fizzy drinks, lime juice comes in handy on an almost daily basis. Your choice for lime juice is to buy it from concentrate or not.
Bottles of lime juice from Lakewood are 12.5 oz and go a long way. There are plastic squeeze bottles of shaped like limes or lemons from Dream Foods International that are much better than the ones that you often see in the produce section of grocery stores.
As long as it stays sealed, lime and lemon juice will last for a long time. It is just so acidic that it takes a lot for it to start getting gross.
Santa Cruz Organics makes an excellent lemon juice and lime juice. While lemon juice can be found in quarts, lime tends to be in pints.
Watch out from really large jugs of lime or lemon juice concentrate. Sometimes these can have more added ingredients and concentrates can vary. It may be for the best to try out a few smaller containers before committing to large jugs. I like the convenience of quarts and pints.
Lemon and lime juice is definitely something I pay extra money to get in an organic version. I made the mistake of using non-organic store brand lemon juice on my hair when laying in the sun and I got the worst allergic reaction of my life. It took a week to get over and I swelled up monstrously. I am not sure what they spray lemons with but whatever it is it is awful. I also would like to point out that the juice that costs less often has the peel ground up to flavor the concentrate that it comes from.
Cranberry juice is good to have on hand. It is useful if you are experiencing any type of kidney or urinary issues and will help prevent such things from occurring if you are particularly prone to them.
Cranberry juice is too tart if not diluted with something else. More expensive cranberry juices are diluted with other juices while the more economically priced versions are from concentrate and sweetened enough to be palatable. This is a juice where you really need to look at the label before buying if you are very picky about ingredients. Northland Cranberry juice is good and 100% juice.
If you want to make the best use of your space you can buy undiluted 100% cranberry juice concentrate and mix your own up. This is a good option for those that like a tarter experience or want to reduce sugar intake. Sometimes if you are mixing a juice with other ingredients for a smoothie, it is nice to have an unsweetened version so that the combined product is not unbearably sweet.
Ocean Spray is the most common brand of cranberry juice out there. You can get it in larger 3-liter jugs or in the small 5.5 oz cans if that is more reasonable for your juice drinking needs. The cans definitely help those out that need to stick to certain portion sizes due to dietary restrictions.
There are way more different types of vegetable juices available than they used to be. We tend to buy tomato juice blends. A good tomato juice or veggie juice blend is an excellent base for making some of the best soup or stew you will ever eat. You can make fast and easy minestrone soup with just a few added ingredients from your pantry or freezer for example.
We are pretty big fans of just the original V8 juice. I also enjoy their juice and green tea blends. No V8 is not organic but it is very affordable. I do have to say that the price has gone up and down a bit online. We found a good deal on the 11.5 oz cans. They are very convenient and they help my Dad out who suffers from stomach and digestive issues.
Regular V8 is a blend of water, and vegetable juice concentrates that include tomato, carrot, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress, and spinach.
Storebrand Tomato or Veggie Juices
When we were going to the grocery store regularly we would buy organic tomato or vegetable juice with our store’s label on it. You can get some very good juices this way if you are lucky enough to have a good grocery store chain in your area. Our local store chain is Ingles and they have a lot of organic and conventional foods produced under their label that tend to be as good or better than many national brands.
A lot of people are still avoiding the grocery store or at least getting Instacart. There are frozen juices that you can add to your order. Of course, this takes up freezer space. With so many people reporting that they are either low on freezer space or that they cannot find a reasonably priced spare freezer to purchase, one must consider the best way to prioritize space. If your freezer goes out or you have an extended power outage you will need to consume juices quickly or use them to make canned sauces.
Frozen concentrates can be really good though and there is nothing wrong with having a few on hand for immediate use. If you do have spare freezer space they are a way to use it up while keeping bulky bottles out of your pantry.
Of course one of the biggest disadvantages of some of the higher quality juices is the fact that they come in glass and that is more challenging to store for some than others. You also may not want to carry around glass as much during a short to long emergency just for the fact that it is a safety hazzard. We store glass bottles in storage totes for extra protection.
How much juice?
Like any prep, it is easy to dedicate too much space to juice. Of course, I don’t know your personal diet requirements nor what foods you like. I generally advise people to prioritize space. So if you have all your pantry staples covered for 6 months or a year with some space left over then I would consider the extra space for specialized preps including foods like juice that are not necessary but are nice and comforting to have for the sake of variety.
Maybe start with a case of 24 cans per person in the household or if you have space, perhaps two cases. Make sure to start a system of juice rotation so that you don’t waste it. So if that case of 48 Ocean Spray Orange Juices has a shelf life of 9 months then you need to make sure to consume it in that time frame. Don’t by up more juices than you can reasonably drink and rotate out.
Dealing with juice that is close or just past expiration is easy if you make sauce or jelly!
If juice is about to expire or you find that you cannot drink it up in time, you can make sauces to add to your condiment stash. Canned sauces can be very nice to have especially if you like specialty condiments or have your own special recipe. Be sure to use proper canning procedures based on the ingredients used.
Of course, always check juices that are close to or just past expiration. If there is anything growing on the inside of the lid or it tastes off then you need to just throw it out and try to be better in the future when it comes to food rotation.
Juice is a good sweetener.
Pure juice adds some sweetness to your diet. The average person is used to a bit of sweetness and would miss it if suddenly they couldn’t get it. Sugar is pretty addictive and even those of us that use very little of it would miss it if some of our sources of sweetness were not available.
Juice is heavy so you may be able to find better deals sometimes at the store or ordering via Instacart or other grocery delivery service.
Some juice is very reasonable online but if the deal seems really great you may want to just get a case of it or whatever the lower quantity is. If you would prefer to buy a lot it may be worth it to find out what the best buy date is on the lot.
Instacart is an option for some juices that are overpriced or not available online. I don’t have a Costco around here but people seem to like them. Grocery store pickups are another option. Wal-Mart is actually doing delivery in some areas due to popular demand. I think they started realizing how much they were losing in some areas to Instacart shopping.
Do you use juice a lot at your house? What are your favorite brands?