Skip to Content

Is Fermented Juice Safe To Drink?

A common question I get is whether or not a ferment is safe to consume. I’ve received this question so many times that I feel it’s time to make a post about it. One of the most commonly asked questions is if fermented juice is safe to drink. Here are my thoughts.

This post may contain affiliate links.
Are Spontaneously Fermented Juices Safe To Drink?

No, fermented juice is NOT safe to drink.

My response assumes you are asking because your juice spontaneously fermented. As in, you did not set out to make a fermented drink.

Instead, you bought some grape juice or pineapple juice, and it stayed in the fridge too long and now it’s bubbly and fizzy. Or maybe it’s the orange juice you’ve been drinking for the past week. You forgot to put it back in the fridge for several hours, and suddenly it’s got some bubbles and a tang.

You know that people purposefully ferment drinks to make natural, probiotic sodas, so you’re wondering if this is the same general idea.

The answer is no, it couldn’t be farther from the same thing.

What happens when juice ferments spontaneously?

When juice ferments spontaneously, often it is due to contamination with bad bacteria. This is particularly the case if it is a pasteurized beverage, because all the good bacteria has already been killed.

But even a raw juice that spontaneously ferments isn’t necessarily safe to drink. It could be tainted with harmful bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella and make you very sick.

Bacteria and yeasts gobble up the sugars in the drink and release gases and ethanol. It results in a drink that is bubbly with a low alcohol content. This drink should be regarded as spoiled.

I’d avoid whether the juice was pasteurized or raw.

And when anyone asks me if “randomly” fermented drinks are safe, I will always say NO. Of course some will choose to drink them and things may turn out OK. But I would never advise it.

Drinking spontaneously fermented beverages can make you sick.

What’s the difference between a spontaneously fermented drink and a lacto-fermented drink?

Spontaneously fermented drinks are not created under any kind of controls. It is generally due to products being kept at too warm of a temperature, or not being used within the designated period of time. Generally juices recommend keeping them under refrigeration, and discarding within 7-10 days of opening.

Intentional fermentation is the complete opposite. When you intend to ferment, you put the juice in the right environment to ensure a safe end product.

Lacto-fermented drinks almost always contain a starter. If they do not, such as beet kvass, they are still fermented under controlled environments, generally with salt added to help stunt growth among harmful bacteria and allow lactic acid bacteria to flourish.

I personally also ferment beet kvass and similar ferments under anaerobic conditions, which also greatly decreases the odds of promoting the growth of bad bacteria and yeasts.

When fermenting fruit juices, I generally use a starter such as ginger bug or water kefir. These starters quickly drop the pH of the juice and crowd out any bad bacteria that may be in it. The starters help good bacteria flourish in the fermented juice, and have a preserving effect.

Even when home brewers are fermenting wine/alcohol, they will generally add something to kill the natural cultures before adding their own yeast.

Have you ever decided to drink spontaneously fermented juice? What has YOUR personal experience been? Leave a comment to let us know!

Nourishing Time is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. There is no additional cost to you, and I only recommend products I use and love. Thank you for stopping by! See Privacy Policy for more information.

Basanth

Sunday 29th of August 2021

I make gooseberry juice with palm sugar and one lemon. I refrigerate it in bottles and drink this all the time. But when i got covid, as a part of avoiding cold drinks, i started to skip the refrigerating part of the process. Even though i reduced the quantity that i make, lesser consumtion makes the drink fermented before it reaches the last couple of glasses. So now, once in ever two days, i am getting ended up with 2-3 glass of fermented drink. I drink this. Its been like this for the last ciuple weks and havnt noticed any stomach issues so far.

Jo

Wednesday 8th of September 2021

I'm glad to hear you're not having any negative symptoms and doing well after having COVID. Are you are using fresh gooseberry juice?

Shivani Dholepatil

Thursday 12th of August 2021

I boiled some plum with sugar , this fermented and I put some kombucha starter to ferment it further .. what is your view on this ?

Jo

Wednesday 8th of September 2021

Kombucha is a very powerful starter I've done similar with water kefir. Close and it should be fine.

Zackarius Duffy

Friday 30th of July 2021

Hi, if I wanted to make an alcohol at home, what is the easiest yet sweetest one that I can do? (And yes I’m over 21, lol. I am 29)

Zackarius Duffy

Friday 30th of July 2021

Hi, if I wanted to make an alcohol at home, what is the easiest yet sweetest one that I can do? (And yes I'm over 21, lol. I am 29)

Rachel

Saturday 24th of July 2021

I support those who say fermented juice has not made them sick. In my youth, in Africa, my brother used to put pineapple peels in a little water in a plastic container. He would cover it and store it in a dark place under the counter. After about 2 weeks, he would open it and we had a bubbly fuzzy alcoholic juice typically called good drink in Ayiti. I guess it has the same amount of alcohol as cider. We never got sick from it Regards.

Jo

Wednesday 28th of July 2021

@Rachel, That is a purposeful ferment that you set out to make. It sounds similar to tepache, which I have made. It is not the same as store-bought juice that begins spoiling. While it would still be safer to make it with an airlock, the good bacteria and yeasts from the pineapple peels can be protective and crowd out bad bacteria.