It is impossible to imagine cooking without lemon juice. Irreplaceable in salad dressings and marinades, this citrus juice finds its uses in other cooking tasks too, including baking (you should also check out this incredible recipe for Meyer Lemon, Fresh Cranberry & Walnut Scones) and making no-bake desserts. But do we know it all about lemon juice?
How long does lemon juice last? You can store store-bought lemon juice in the pantry for up to 6 months past its ‘Best by’ date so long as the bottle is unopened. Once opened, the juice should be stored in the fridge where it will keep well for up to a year past its ‘Best by’ date. The maximum shelf life of freshly squeezed lemon juice is 3 to 5 days.
Continue reading to learn about the proper storage conditions for lemon juice and what is the one way of extending the shelf life of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Does Lemon Juice Go Bad?
Lemons are known as one of the best natural preservatives. Whenever there is lemon juice in something, we know that it won’t go bad too quickly.
But what about lemon juice itself? Does it go bad? Lemon juice does have a limited shelf life, be it freshly squeezed or bottled lemon juice from the supermarket.
Freshly squeezed lemon juice lasts way shorter than lemon juice sold in bottles. While there are a few more differences between fresh and bottled lemon juice, the general rules of storing them are the same.
If you don’t store lemon juice properly, it will quickly lose its refreshing properties. Not only that. Bad lemon juice has the ‘potential’ to ruin an entire dish.
How to Store Lemon Juice?
Commercially manufactured lemon juice that is sold unrefrigerated can be stored in the panty before being opened.
Keep the unopened bottle of lemon juice in a cool and dark area, away from heat sources and light. A kitchen cabinet will also work well for storing unopened lemon juice so long as it is away from the oven.
Once you open the bottle, lemon juice should be refrigerated. You should keep the lid tightly sealed at all times to prevent the contact of the juice with air.
As store-bought lemon juice contains added preservatives, some people think that it will do well at room temperature too even after opening. While store-bought lemon juice may last at room temperature for some time after opening, its quality will quickly degrade. The fridge, on the other hand, will significantly extend its shelf life.
Freshly squeezed lemon juice should be refrigerated at all times. This also refers to store-bought lemon juices that are sold in the refrigerated section. These are typically the ones that claim to be all-natural lemon juice concentrates without any additives.
The general storage rule remains the same: keep lemon juice in a container that you can tightly seal.
How Long Does Lemon Juice Last?
Commercially manufactured lemon juice always comes with a ‘Best by’ date. But considering that these juices are simply mixtures of water, lemon juice, and preservatives, they can last longer than the date indicated on the label so long as you keep the bottle unopened.
An unopened bottle of lemon juice stored in a cool and dry area will last up to 6 months past its ‘Best by’ date.
Surprisingly, opening and refrigerating store-bought lemon juice doesn’t decrease its shelf life. You can keep a well-sealed bottle of lemon juice in the fridge for 6 to 12 months past the ‘Best by’ date.
Things are different with freshly squeezed lemon juice. It has a way shorter shelf life.
Kept in the refrigerator, in a tightly sealed container, fresh lemon juice has a shelf life of 3 to 5 days.
If you use lemon juice often and don’t want to spend time on squeezing fresh lemon juice every time you need it, then buying bottled lemon juice is your best option. It keeps longer and is convenient for everyday use.
It should be mentioned, however, that many people prefer freshly squeezed lemon juice as its flavor is brighter and fresher.
So, it is a matter of preference. The important thing is that you know how to store lemon juice and how long it lasts no matter which kind you are using.
Can You Freeze Lemon Juice?
Freezing is a great way of extending the shelf life of freshly squeezed juice. If you ever decide to freeze lemon juice, you should certainly do it in ice cube trays. This is what makes frozen lemon juice extremely convenient to use.
You can use lemon juice ice cubes to cool your lemonades without watering them down too much. These frozen lemon water bits will also work great for your morning glass of water.
You can also thaw lemon juice ice cubes and use them for salad dressings, marinades, and a range of other cooking tasks.
One ice cube generally equals two tablespoons. Keep these measurements in mind when using frozen lemon juice.
Freezing lemon juice is quite straightforward. Cut the lemons in half and juice them. Pour the juice into ice cube trays. Once the cubes are frozen, pop them out. Put them into a freezer bag to save space in your cold storage.
If you are going to use the lemon juice cubes for drinks, you can thin down the juice with water and only then freeze it.
Frozen lemon juice will maintain its best quality for 3 to 4 in the freezer. However, if you have not managed to use up your frozen lemon juice cubes, you can continue using them as they will keep safely in the freezer for much longer.
You can thaw lemon juice by letting the cubes sit in the fridge. Alternatively, you can use the microwave or leave the cubes stored in the freezer bag under running cold water.
Use lemon juice thawed in the fridge within 3 days so long as you leave it there in a tightly sealed container. If you have thawed lemon juice using the microwave or cold water, use it immediately.
How Can You Tell If Lemon Juice Has Gone Bad?
The process of lemon juice going bad is quite slow, especially in the case of the store-bought ones. The quality slowly degrades until it reaches a point when the juice is so bad that you better not use it.
The smell of lemons is often associated with freshness. Thus, if the lemon juice doesn’t smell fresh, that means it is certainly not at its best.
When the smell of lemon juice changes for the worse, the flavor does too. If the juice smells too sour it is best to stay safe and not use it.
In certain cases, the juice may lose its flavor properties. And who needs flavorless lemon juice?
Other signs of spoilage of store-bought lemon juice include the color changes of the liquid as well as traces of mold in the bottle.
As for freshly squeezed lemon juice, things will happen much faster. You will notice significant changes in the color, smell, and taste of freshly squeezed lemon juice after a few days of storing it in the fridge.
Even if the citrus juice seems to be good, don’t use it if you have had it for more than 5 days.
Using lemon juice contaminated with bacteria or toxins may result in food poisoning and other health issues. If you are having any doubts about the freshness and safety of your lemon juice, discard it.