Do Lemons Go Bad? How long do Lemons last?

Lemons are used for garnishing and adding flavor to many meals prepared in the kitchen.  Knowing when to buy lemons by learning when they go bad will help save you money.

Quick Answer

Yes, Lemons can go bad.  The best way to store a fresh Lemon is whole in the fridge.  Lemons lasts for 1 week on the counter.  Stored in a pantry, Lemons can stay fresh for up to 2 weeks.  Whole Fresh Lemons in the fridge will help it keep for 3-4 weeks.  Cut Lemons stored in the refrigerator last for 3-4 days.  Frozen Lemons remain fresh for up to 4 months.


There are ways to tell when Lemons are bad and ensure that it is still fresh.  Here are a few tips and tricks to this process.

Do Lemons Go Bad? How long do Lemons last?

Yes, Lemons can go bad.   Here are some estimations for how long Lemons can be stored on the counter, in the pantry, fridge, and freezer.

How Long Do Lemons Last on Counter/Pantry

Leave Lemons on the counter or pantry if you plan to use them immediately.

Cut:  There is little difference in how long a lemon lasts in a pantry or on the counter.  Lemons that have been sliced or quartered have to be used the same day.  They are no longer any good after a couple of hours.

Whole: A whole lemon can remain on the counter for one week without drying out or going bad.  The pantry can keep the Lemon up to 2 weeks if stored properly.

Using the pantry or counter to store Lemons can be used if you are going to use or eat it immediately.

How Long Does Lemons Last in the Fridge

Using the fridge to store Lemons is a great way to extend its shelf life by a few weeks.

Cut:  Cut Lemons can last 3-4 days in the refrigerator.  Proper storage is the best way to ensure that bacteria doesn’t set up.  Using a storage container can help prevent dryness or bacteria set-up.

Whole:  Whole Lemons can last for 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator.  Using sealable plastic containers, bags, or plastic wrap is best to maintain freshness.  The more Lemons are exposed to air, the quicker they go bad.

Storing Lemons in the Fridge is the best way if you plan on eating within a couple of weeks.

How Long Does Lemons Last in the Freezer

The best way to store Lemons for an extended amount of time is by freezing them.

Cut:  Freezing fresh Lemons is the best way to extended shelf-life. If properly frozen, Lemons can last from 8-12 months in the freezer.

Whole:  Freezing cooked Lemons can extend the shelf-life for up to three months.  It must be sealed in a freezer-safe bag to ensure that it is edible.

The best way to store it for immediate use is at room temperature.   If you do not plan on using or eating it quickly, then refrigerating or freezing is the best option for storing.

How to Tell if Lemons are Bad? How to Tell if Lemons are Fresh?

Lemons are fresh when they have a bright yellow rind.  They should be quite firm to the touch and have a tangy smell.

Mold:  Anytime you see mold growing on Lemons, it is time to discard and purchase another for use.  Always check it right before use to ensure that it is okay to eat.

Appearance: Small areas of imperfections are typical.  If the entire Lemon has change coloring, it may be time to get rid of it.

Texture: When you touch a lemon, and it is soft to the touch or slimy, it is time to throw it out.

Smell:  Lemons will begin to lose their scent over time.  If it lacks aroma, it is up to you if you would like to continue to use it.  If the Lemon begins to smell unusual, don’t take any chances and discard it.

Remember, you are the best judge on whether it seems to be because of the environment or time to get rid of it.  You may need to cut into it to ensure that what you see is enough to make you discard it.

How to Store Lemons?

There are a few basics to follow to get the maximum shelf life from your Lemons.

Counter/Pantry:  Keep the lemons whole for them to last for up to a week.  Putting them in a storage bag and making sure all the air is expelled can help preserve them.

Fridge:  Cut or whole Lemons stored in the refrigerator extends its shelf life.  Using a sealed storage bag or container can help Lemons remain fresh for up to 3-4 weeks.

Freezer: You can store Lemons in the freezer cut or whole.  It is the best way to preserve the freshness for up to 4 months.

The best way to store Lemons is in the fridge or freezer.

Can You Freeze Lemons? How?

Yes, you can freeze Lemons. It can be a relatively straightforward process if you choose.

Cut:  Decide if you prefer the Lemons sliced or cut lemons into wedges.  Rinse them off with cool water.  Freeze them on a tray lined with parchment paper to ensure they do not freeze together.  Once frozen, add to a freezer-safe bag.

Whole:  Rinse the Lemons rind thoroughly.  Put them in a freezer-safe bag dry them with a paper towel to prevent them from freezing together.

It is easy to freeze a lemon whole for zesting, cutting, or slicing when you are prepared to use it later.

How to Thaw Lemons?

Lemons can be used frozen, or you can take the extra step to thaw it if you choose.

Use Frozen:  It is not necessary to thaw frozen Lemons.  You can zest or slice straight from the freezer and add it to the meal you are creating, still frozen.

Thaw:  If you prefer to thaw the Lemon, you can put them in room temperature water for ten to fifteen minutes.  You can also microwave them for 15-20 seconds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does eating Lemons have any health benefits? Yes, Lemons have health benefits. Eating Lemons can be effective against the development of cancers, tumors, and cysts. Lemons can help fight against bacterial infections and fungus. Lemon peels have 10 times more vitamins than lemon juice. Lemons also help your body get rid of toxins.

Can you become sick from eating a bad Lemon?  Yes, you can become ill from consuming a rotten Lemon.  You can get food poisoning from eating bad Lemons.  Rotten lemons sometimes have bacteria, viruses, or toxins attached to them.  These can make you sick within a few hours to two days after consumption.

Wrap Up

Lemons go bad at different rates, whether cut or stored whole.  Cut Lemons last for a couple of hours on the counter, 1-2 weeks in the fridge.  Whole lemons last for 1 week on the counter and up to 2 weeks in the pantry.  If an entire Lemon is stored in the refrigerator, it can last for 3-4 weeks.  Cut or whole frozen Lemons can be kept for up to 4 months.

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