Does Lemon Juice Go Bad? How Long Does It Last? Storage Tips

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on December 18th, 2022

Lemon juice, with its tangy citrus aromas, has many health and culinary applications around the house. If you have too much of it, you’re probably wondering if lemon juice spoils. We answer all your questions, from shelf life to how to store your juice for maximum freshness.


Does Lemon Juice Go Bad?

Lemon juice will deteriorate over time. The speed with which it degrades depends on whether it is freshly squeezed or purchased in a packaged form from a store shelf. Freshly squeezed juice spoils faster than packaged juice.

clear glass mason jar on brown surface

Storing the juice will also influence how long it remains fresh. Refrigeration is usually the greatest approach to extend the life of perishable items like lemons. If you have a huge batch of lemon juice, freezing it is your best bet.

We’ll discover how to keep lemon juice fresh for as long as possible. But first, let’s look at the shelf life of several forms of lemon juice.

How Long Will Lemon Juice last?

Lemon juice can survive as little as two days or as long as a year, depending on the type of juice and how it is stored.

We’ll look at three forms of lemon juice: handmade, freshly squeezed, refrigerated store-bought, and unrefrigerated store-bought.

Homemade lemon juice has the shortest shelf life and should be consumed within two to three days of being squeezed. Because it lacks preservatives, freshly squeezed juice is susceptible to microorganisms, and its quality deteriorates when the lemons are strained.

The store-bought refrigerated kind contains fewer preservatives and can last slightly longer than homemade juice. If you keep it in the fridge, it should last for up to a week before becoming rotten and unusable.

Finally, store-bought unrefrigerated lemon juice has a longer shelf life. It not only contains preservatives, but manufacturers also remove up to 90% of the water content in the juice to prevent bacteria growth. The juice can be kept fresh for up to 3-6 months if left unopened and up to 6-12 months if refrigerated.

Take note of the best-before dates on store-bought juices. The juice is generally okay to consume for a few days after the best-before date, after which it loses flavor and nutritional content.

Shelf Life of Lemons and Lemon Juice

 PantryFridge
Bottled lemon juice (unopened)Best by + 3 – 6 months 
Bottled lemon juice (opened) Best by 6 – 12 months
Store-bought fresh lemon juice 4 – 5 days
Freshly squeezed lemon juice 2 – 3 days

Whole Lemons

Lemons can generally be stored at room temperature for up to one week. They should keep in the fridge for two to three weeks. Lemons can be stored in the freezer forever, but they will lose flavor after three to four months.

Interestingly, once lemons are removed from the tree, they no longer develop, so putting them out on the counter to ripen is worthless — you’ll end up with shriveled, rotten lemons that must be discarded.

Lemons, cut

If you cut up more lemon than you can consume immediately, it will only survive a day at room temperature before drying up and going bad. It’s better to store the slices in the fridge for two or three days or in the freezer for two or three months.

When frozen for an extended time, chopped and whole lemons may become mushy.

Lemon Juice (fresh)

Freshly squeezed lemon juice that isn’t being used should be stored immediately in the fridge, where it can last for two to three days, or in the freezer, where it will be useable after three to four months.

Fresh lemon juice is sensitive to bacterium infection from the peel; if it cannot be used or frozen within three days, it should be destroyed.

Lemon Juice in a Bottle

Unopened, bottled (commercial) lemon juice can be stored in the pantry for up to a year. Once opened, it can last up to six months in the fridge. In the freezer, the shelf life is indefinite.

Preservatives will be applied to the majority of store-bought versions. The more preservatives in the juice, the longer it will last. Check the expiry date as a general rule. While the juice should still be safe to consume a few months beyond this date, it offers an idea of how long the juice will remain pleasant.

While lemons are acidic enough to act as a preservative, they contain water, which is a breeding ground for germs. Bottled lemon juice will last far longer than fresh lemon juice.

Lemonade

If not refrigerated, freshly squeezed lemonade should be drunk within one day. When properly refrigerated, it will keep in the freezer for up to one week or two to three months.

Store-bought lemonade can be kept in the fridge for two weeks if unopened or one week if opened. It will keep in the freezer for up to 12 months before losing some of its delightful properties – but it will still be safe to eat after that.

Homemade vs. Store Purchased

Various preservatives are added to extend the shelf-life of most store-bought lemon juice bottles. As a result, they will typically outlast their manufactured counterparts. This is due to the lack of preservatives in homemade lemon juice.

It’s crucial to note that the amount of preservatives in store-bought lemon juice varies depending on the brand.

Generally, opened store-bought lemon juice will last 4 to 6 months in the refrigerator, whereas freshly squeezed homemade lemon juice will last 2 to 3 days.

What is the shelf life of lemon juice at room temperature?

Unopened bottles of store-bought lemon juice can last up to 18 months. The lemon juice container does not need to be refrigerated before opening and may be stored at room temperature. Once opened, it should ideally be chilled to maintain the highest quality.

On the other hand, a lemon juice bottle should not be stored in direct sunlight. Instead, keep it in a cooler, darker location, such as your kitchen cupboards or pantry.

Is it possible for lemon juice to spoil if it is left out overnight?

So you poured yourself a glass of lemon juice and then promptly forgot about it. Is it okay to drink unrefrigerated lemon juice that has been left out overnight?

If it’s homemade fresh juice, you should think about throwing it out — as difficult as that may be. There’s too much of a chance that bacterial growth has begun, increasing the risk of food poisoning.

On the other hand, if you’re using store-bought lemon juice, you shouldn’t be concerned. This is due to the preservatives I discussed previously.

Before drinking, take a quick whiff and look for any of the indicators of diluted lemon juice listed below. If everything appears to be in order, go ahead and enjoy!

Is it possible to become sick from expired lemon juice?

Like any other outdated food, spotted lemon juice can make you sick.

Although citric acid in lemon juice is a natural preservative, it does not guarantee a bacteria-free environment if stored incorrectly or for too long.

Food poisoning can still develop from expired lemon juice due to bacterial or viral proliferation or other poisons that may naturally arise in it. If you ingest expired lemon juice, the symptoms may appear from a few hours to a few days. These are typically food poisoning symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, inflammation, etc.

As a result, you should always be mindful of how you store it, its shelf life, and the expiration date printed on the bottle. If you have any of these symptoms after drinking a suspicious-looking lemon juice, you should seek medical attention right once.

What Are the Dangers of Unrefrigerated Lemon Juice?

Warm and damp conditions are ideal for bacterial growth on any food item. A food item like lemon juice is considered in the “danger zone” for bacterial growth if it is left out in temperatures ranging from 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

The citric acid in lemon juice functions as a natural preservative, preventing germs from developing as quickly. However, it can begin to increase if left out for an extended period. It is harmful to consume once the bacterium has established a rapid growth pattern.

Contaminated lemon juice has the potential to cause food poisoning or disease. Check out this list to make sure your juice is safe.

Contamination

Mold patches can form in your unrefrigerated lemon juice once bacteria have established a pattern of growth and multiplication. Not only is this unsafe to eat, but the mold spores can also spread to other food items in your kitchen and contaminate them.

If you discover mold in your lemon juice, go to the sink and quickly drain the liquid from the bottle or container. Rinse the bottle well before recycling it. Getting rid of bacteria-ridden and moldy goods will help avoid spreading mold spores, reducing the likelihood of additional illness-inducing elements.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is one of the most common signs that you have consumed contaminated food or have food poisoning. This is the body’s natural defensive system for eliminating unwanted foods.

Diarrhea may occur if your lemon juice has bacterial growth from staying in the “risk zone” for an extended period. If this happens, make sure to drink enough water to avoid dehydration. It is also a good idea to avoid solid foods until the symptoms subside, particularly dairy products, sugary foods, meat, and alcohol.

Pain in the abdomen

Abdominal pain could be an indication of food poisoning. This could be due to regular stomach acids or gas or a warning that you ate infected food, such as unrefrigerated lemon juice. Other symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea, may accompany abdominal pain.

Vomiting

If you eat food that has rotted or has been contaminated with bacteria or viruses, you may feel vomiting or nausea. This is also a natural defense mechanism in which your body has to get unwanted intruders out of the body using whatever methods are required. Do not try to stop vomiting if this is the case. You want the tainted food out of your system.

Body Temperature Variations

Fever or chills may occur due to food poisoning caused by diluted lemon juice. During this time, you may also suffer cold chills. Fever indicates that your immune system works overtime to resist an invading organism. The fever is a natural side effect of the body’s attempt to burn up the chemical.

4 Ways to Tell If Your Lemon Juice Is Bad

Lemon juice may not spoil immediately, especially if it is bottled and unrefrigerated. The juice will gradually lose its zest over time, making it easier to overlook the indicators of staleness.

That said, here are several sure-fire ways to detect whether your batch of lemon juice has gone bad:

  1. Examine the Color

Lemon juice is a pale yellow liquid with a watery consistency. The color of the juice will change to a deeper, hazy yellow as it becomes rotten. If the juice is in an opaque bottle, pour it into a transparent glass to see if the color changes.

  1. Perform a Sniff Test

A good lemon juice will have a delicate citrus aroma. Bacteria will multiply and ferment the juice if it sits for too long or is incorrectly preserved. As a result, the juice will smell tangier than usual. If this is the case, your juice is either going bad or has already gone bad.

  1. Take a Drink

Checking the color and smell of lemon juice is generally enough to detect if it has gone bad. However, if unsure, you can taste the freshness by tasting a small bit. Without the normal zest of lemons, sour juice will be either extremely sour or bland.

  1. Examine for Mold

Lemon juice contains water, which is an ideal breeding habitat for bacteria. Mold is one indicator of bacterially contaminated juice. If you see any evidence of mold or yeast, dump the juice and clean the container immediately to avoid spreading the mold and contaminating other goods in the cupboard or fridge.

Choosing the Best Lemons

Examine the lemons you purchase for mold, wounds, or bruising. Lemons with thin skins are juicier than those with thick peels.

Green lemons can be purchased to ripen in a paper bag. Lemons that have matured at home are frequently sweeter and juicier.

3 Lemon Juice Storage Suggestions

If you have an excess of lemon juice, you do not have to throw it away. We’ll show you a few simple techniques to keep your juice fresher for longer:

  1. Make ice cubes out of the juice

The easiest way to store lemon juice is to freeze it, especially if you squeeze it fresh. You only need an ice cube tray to pour and freeze the juice.

What’s fantastic about this method is that you may take out only the quantity of ice cubes you need and leave the rest frozen for subsequent usage.

  1. Store in the refrigerator for short periods of time

Freshly squeezed lemon juice should be refrigerated right away. Opened bottles of lemon concentrate should also be refrigerated to extend shelf life.

Pour the juice into an airtight container for the best results. To prevent the growth of pollutants such as bacteria, mold, and yeast, ensure that the container has a cover or lid with a tightening band to prevent air and moisture from entering or exiting.

Rather than storing all of your juice in one container, divide it into smaller jars that can be consumed simultaneously. You should avoid taking lemon juice out of the fridge, using it at room temperature, and then putting it back in the fridge. This temperature difference will change the chemical structure of the juice, leading it to spoil, which is precisely what you want to prevent.

Refrigerate fresh juice for up to three days and lemon concentrate for up to 12 months.

  1. Is the juice suitable for long-term storage?

Aside from freezing, canning is an excellent option for keeping big amounts of fresh lemon juice for longer. If properly preserved, the juice can be stored in the cupboard for up to two years.

To begin, you’ll need mason jars, a canner or stockpot, and a heat source. To begin, sanitize the mason jar in the dishwasher or by immersing it in boiling water for 10 minutes to kill bacteria.

Bring the fresh lemon juice to a boil before pouring it onto the top of the jars. To keep air out, securely seal the jars. By pressing the bubble in the middle of the lid, you can ensure that the jar is properly sealed. If the lid drops and rises, the air has gotten into the jar, and you should utilize the juice within a week.

After filling the jars, place them in a canner with boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove the lemon juice jars carefully, and leave them to cool before storing them in a cool, dry location until ready to use.

Is it possible to freeze lemon juice?

The best technique to extend the shelf life of lemon juice is to freeze it. If you use lemon juice frequently, freezing small amounts in the freezer is a terrific way to save time. Then, take what you need and save the rest for later use.

Lemon juice can be frozen in two ways. Pour the juice into an ice cube tray and set it in the freezer overnight. The little-size cubes are ideal for recipes that call for a little zing.

Another clever approach to conserve lemon juice is to freeze it in zip-lock containers. This is perfect if you use a lot of juice, such as lemonade.

Ensure no air is trapped within the plastic bags before pouring the juice into them. Lemon juice oxidizes quickly when exposed to air, causing it to spoil. Place the bags in the fridge overnight or until you’re ready to consume the juice.

When you take frozen lemon juice out of the freezer, it’s best to use it up rather than re-freeze it. The temperature difference will change the juice’s profile and possibly diminish its shelf life.

What Is the White Sediment in the Lemon Juice Bottle’s Bottom?

If the lemon juice is fresh and refrigerated from the grocery, the white sediment is most likely particles of pulp or peel. If the label instructs you to shake the juice before using it, it’s much more likely to be natural fresh juice.

Because of additions other than preservatives in bottled juices, such as added fiber, modified starch, carrageenan, xanthan gum, and gum acacia, sediment is frequently absent.

These additions give the liquid substance by simulating real juice. The label may also indicate emulsifiers, which keep the various ingredients fluid and smooth.

We understand that squeezing fresh lemons at home isn’t always convenient. However, choose fresh-squeezed lemon and other refrigerated juices in bottles whenever possible. Also, keep your juice in a secure location.

What Can You Make With Old Lemon Juice?

If your lemon juice has expired, don’t worry; you may always repurpose it as a cleaning and disinfecting product around the house.

You’ll also be reducing waste, which is always a bonus in our current state of unintentional consumerism and waste. Here’s how to repurpose your old lemon juice:

Cleaner

You can put the lemon juice in a spray bottle with equal parts water and use it as a cleaning product. Similarly, you can microwave some lemon juice and water in a microwaveable container for 30-60 seconds, let the steam remain for 3-5 minutes, and then wash the inside of the microwave with a sponge or paper towel.

Antibacterial

Lemon juice contains a high concentration of alkaloid chemicals and acidity, making it antibacterial. You can use this quality by using old lemon juice to eliminate bacteria accumulated in the crevices of cutting boards, oven stones, and wooden utensils. After cleaning, treat the area with your old lemon juice, let it stay for 5-10 minutes, and then rinse with hot water before drying.

Polisher

Another excellent use for old lemon juice is as a polisher. To make your old aluminum pans and pots shine and as beautiful as new again, wet a sponge with your expired lemon juice and wipe the interior and exterior with it. After that, rub with a soft towel rather than rinse.

Summary

Lemon juice is a versatile condiment that keeps well in the refrigerator. If you have too much of it or want to save it for later, freezing is the way to go. To increase the shelf life of fresh juices and avoid potential poisoning, use extreme caution when handling them.

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Editorial Staff

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