In this brief guide we will address the question, “How long does lemon juice last?” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how to store lemon juice and how to tell if lemon juice has gone bad?
How long does lemon juice last?
When life gives you lemons, squeeze them!
Fresh homemade lemon juice typically lasts for upto 2-3 days when stored in the refrigerator. Whereas, store bought refrigerated and unrefrigerated can last from a week to 6 months respectively when unopened.
Freshly squeezed lemon juice will last for only a few hours in the pantry before it starts to lose its nutritional value and taste. Fresh lemon juice has almost no natural preservatives and immediately starts going bad the moment you squeeze it out. A good way to preserve lemon juice is to refrigerate it. In this way, your lemon juice can last upto 2-3 days.
When we talk about store bought juice, there are two types that are commercially available. One is refrigerated lemon juice with a bit of preservatives, and the other one is refrigerated lemon juice with more preservatives than the former.
Definitely, non-refrigerated lemon juice will last much longer than the refrigerated one because it has more preservatives. The fact that some of the lemon juice is kept in the refrigerator is in itself the answer to what minute quantity of preservatives it might be containing. It stays good for only about a week when opened and stored in the fridge.
Unrefrigerated and store bought lemon juice can typically last from 3 to 6 months when unopened. If opened and properly stored in the fridge, it may last up to a year.
How to store lemon juice?
When it comes to storage, we have two options.
Short term storage
Whether it is freshly squeezed homemade lemon juice or bought from the market, if you want to store lemon juice for a short period of time like a few days to a week, you can go with the option of refrigerating it. This is ideal for short term storage and also keeps your lemon juice fresh and well preserved in its natural state.
People who are unsure about storage methods generally go with freezing, but why spend extra time putting the juice in an ice cube tray and then thawing it when you can just refrigerate it. Homemade lemon juice that has been kept in the fridge will stay fresh for 2-3 days. Similarly, store bought refrigerated and unrefrigerated will last for a week and 6 months respectively.
It is also important to note that when it comes to store bought unrefrigerated lemon juice, you can just put it in the pantry without opening it, and it will stay fresh for about 3 months. If you want to store it any longer, just open it and then put it in the fridge.
Long term storage
Yes, you guessed it right! When it comes to long term storage, freezing is the correct option. Freezing will prolong the shelf life of lemon juice by as much as 6-12 months. There are different ways of putting things in the freezer, but the principle remains the same for most of the items – make sure they’re well isolated and packed.
You can even store lemons in the freezer and thaw them later so you can get fresh juice. However, I would not recommend that. Just squeeze out the juice and put it in ice trays for lemon cubes. Remember to pack your ice tray in a freezer bag, so other items in the freezer do not contaminate your cubes. Things like juices can easily catch the aroma of items in the freezer, and will give an off smell when taken out.
How to tell if lemon juice has gone bad?
There are some key indicators that will tell that your lemon juice has gone bad. Let us discuss them one by one.
Change in color
Fresh lemon juice has a light yellow color. There is some degree of transparency to it as well. When lemon juice goes bad, its color will start to darken and it will get cloudy. If you notice such a change in your lemon juice, it means that your lemon juice has gone bad and it is now time to discard it.
Change in smell
You can also tell if your lemon juice has gone bad by a simple sniff. Fresh lemon juice has a tangy, citrus aroma. When lemon juice goes bad, its smell will be more towards the pungent and citrus side. This is a great indicator that will instantly catch your attention. This pungent, citrus smell will be because of the fermentation process.
Usually color and aroma are enough to indicate if your lemon juice has gone bad or not, but if you are still unsure about the lemon juice, take a sip. Spoilt lemon juice will be extra sour, with its taste leaning more on the bitter side.
Taking just a sip will not adversely affect your health, and you can always throw it out if you feel a change in the taste.
Check for visible mold growth
Just like when you check the color, you can also check the expiry of your lemon juice by observing any mold growth on the juice. Lemon juice has a low pH and attracts acidophilic bacteria and mold. If it is given a suitable amount of time in the pantry, or stored for longer durations in the fridge, bacteria and mold will invade.
In this brief guide we have addressed the question, “How long does lemon juice last?” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how to store lemon juice and how to tell if lemon juice has gone bad?