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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.

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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. Your spontaneously fermented apple juice is not the same as cider, and is not safe to drink.

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.

What shoud you do if you accidentally drank fermented juice?

If you accidentally drank some juice that was sitting too long, then you need to somewhat play it by ear.

Rest assured that you don’t need to jump to the conclusion that you’re going to die.

Chances are that the worst that will happen is you’ll have some digestive distress, like a stomachache or diarrhea. Here are some tips for dealing with belly pain.

In some cases, you may have more serious digestive issues such as vomiting. If you have a little nausea or vomit once or twice and then feel better, then it’s safe to assume that your body did a good job of clearing the irritant.

However, if you have persistent diarrhea or vomiting and don’t seem to be getting better, you may want to consult your doctor.

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

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Wednesday 5th of June 2024

Oh I eat mouldy bread, left out fizzy orange juice , super old kefir, mouldy cheese, old cooked meat ...I’m still here but I hear ya...normally if In doubt I’ll try a little and wait 30 - 40 mins. Try raw honey fermented’s the bomb but please take probiotics after !

Nasami Beverages

Wednesday 29th of May 2024

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Friday 10th of May 2024

I drink it.. I understand it is not perfectly safe.. but alot of things I do are not perfectly safe.. I have drank it my whole life since I was a kid and if the juice was fermented I wouldn't tell my mother because she would have tossed it and I liked the taste.. it has never made me sick and helps me feel better when I have a tummy ache.. it is not perfectly safe but it is relatively safe.. a matter of choice I think.. like eating rare steak.. also I have thought of fermenting juice "the right way".. but I'm busy and poor.. this is best for me.. I tell people that it's possible to get sick but it's possible to get sick from alot of things.. it just depends on the person whether they want to


Friday 9th of February 2024

Feeling sick right now from Pom juice that upon opening tasted fizzy and fermented . Hubby and I both now with stomach aches and diarrhea.


Tuesday 21st of November 2023

I grew up on a farm with a big apple orchard. Every fall our father drove my brothers and I in a panel truck drove through the orchard. We plucked apples from the trees into the truck until the truck was full and then headed to a juicing mill. At the mill the operator juiced the apples into gallon jugs for us. We kept them in a room in the cellar with a floor of packed-clay. By Christmas the juice had become bubbly. I don't remember anyone complaining of the effects of drinking the stuff.