We love to promote make-ahead dinners, lunches, and snacks here at Cooking Light. Using your weekend to boil big batches of whole grains or layer un-dressed salads in adorable mason jars is a great way to get a healthy jumpstart on your week.

However, juicing is one make-ahead process you may want to skip.

For starters, there’s a reason the bottled juices you buy at the supermarket are pasteurized. Raw fruits and vegetables can easily become contaminated with harmful bacteria. This bacteria is especially dangerous for older adults, pregnant women, young children, and those with weakened immune systems.

If you are juicing at home, it’s important to thoroughly rinse all of your produce and kitchen equipment before juicing. Even those fruits that require peeling – like melons, avocados, and stone fruit – need a good bath. Bacteria on the rind or peel can end up in the glass along with all that juice.

So why is raw so trendy? In addition to killing harmful bacteria, the pasteurization process also slightly decreases the concentration of certain vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Pasteurized products are still very nutrient dense and perfectly safe – some people just prefer theirs raw and fresh out of the juicer.

Then there’s the fact that many of the vitamins found in fresh fruits and veggies are heat, light, and air sensitive. They start to break down the minute they are exposed, so more time on the fridge shelf means fewer accessible vitamins.

It’s okay to juice a little extra – just be sure to refrigerate what you don’t drink right away in tightly-sealed containers and enjoy within 24 hours.

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