Does Lemon Juice Go Bad? How Long Does Opened Lemon Juice Last

Lemon juice can be used in a variety of recipes, so it’s always good to have a bottle on hand.  However, if you’ve been using the same bottle for too long, you might be wondering if it’s still good.

Quick Answer

How long lemon juice will stay good depends on how it is stored, as well as how it was made.

  • Store-bought lemon juice that came from the shelf will stay good for six to twelve months after opening, refrigerated.
  • Homemade lemon juice will stay good for two to three days refrigerated or one week frozen.
  • Store-bought lemon juice that was refrigerated will stay good for one week refrigerated or up to ten days frozen.

Consuming old lemon juice can potentially be dangerous, so it’s always best to make sure your lemon juice is still good before you use it.

Does Lemon Juice Go Bad? How Long Does Opened Lemon Juice Last

Once you open lemon juice, it will start to go bad faster.  Keep this in mind when storing your opened lemon juice.

Does Lemon Juice Spoil?

Some people claim that lemon juice doesn’t spoil due to its high acidity.  Is this true?

  • While citric acid does slow bacterial growth, it does not prevent it, meaning lemon juice can still spoil.
  • Other pathogens and contaminants may also make the lemon juice go bad.
  • Store-bought lemon juice that has preservatives may stay good longer, but will still spoil eventually.
  • Consuming spoiled lemon juice can be dangerous due to the contaminants it may carry, and can therefore cause severe illness.
  • Spoiled lemon juice can be identified by its appearance, smell, taste, or age.
  • Proper storage can extend the shelf life of lemon juice.

How Long Does Opened Lemon Juice Last in The Fridge?

Refrigeration is probably the most common way of storing lemon juice, as it preserves it much longer than room temperature storage.

Store-bought lemon juice from the shelf will stay good for six to twelve months when refrigerated.  The lemon juice that the grocery store keeps at room temperature has preservatives in it that should keep it good for a long time in the fridge after it has been opened.  For best results, use it within a year of opening it.  Beyond that, although it will most likely still be safe to consume, the quality may decline.  If properly stored, it should remain safe for consumption indefinitely, but make sure you check for signs it has gone bad before you use it.

Fresh-squeezed lemon juice will stay good for two to three days when refrigerated.  If you’re the type to squeeze lemon juice yourself, you won’t get the long shelf life of store-bought lemon juice.  Because your fresh lemon juice doesn’t have all the preservatives of the juice from the store, it will only last two or three days.

Store-bought fresh lemon juice will stay good for one week refrigerated.   Fresh store-bought lemon juice that was refrigerated in the store will last a little longer than home-squeezed lemon juice, but not nearly as long as the juice stored at room temperature.  You can keep it refrigerated for up to one week.

Can You Freeze Opened Lemon Juice? How Long Does Opened Lemon Juice Last in The Freezer?

For those who want their lemon juice to last as long as possible, freezing may be an option.

Store-bought lemon juice doesn’t need to be frozen.  The room-temperature lemon juice from the store has so many preservatives and stays good for so long that there is no point in freezing it for storage.  Of course, feel free to freeze it if you really want to, but it’s simply not necessary.

Freezing fresh lemon juice can extend its lifespan.  Because fresh lemon juice has such a short shelf life, you may want to freeze it if you want it to last longer.  This is helpful if you squeeze more than you can use at once or if you buy a lot of fresh lemon juice.

Properly stored frozen lemon juice should last indefinitely.  To keep your frozen lemon juice good indefinitely, you will want to make sure it is completely covered, and sealed if possible.  This prevents contaminants from potentially getting in.

Using an ice cube tray can help with portions.  You can pre-portion your lemon juice before you freeze it by using an ice cube tray.  This way, you can only thaw out as much as you need when you’re ready to use it.  Just be sure to cover it, maybe with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, or put it in a freezer bag.

You can use other containers too.  If you don’t want to use an ice cube tray, you can use any freezer-safe container.  Glass jars are a popular option, but if you go this route, don’t fill them completely, as there is a risk of them cracking or breaking if the lemon juice expands too much.

Thaw slowly, if possible.  The best way to thaw lemon juice is to leave it on the counter for about an hour to let it melt.  You may also consider putting the container with the frozen lemon juice in hot water, but if your container is glass, this is not a good idea as it may crack or break.

Use the microwave to thaw quickly.  If you’re in a hurry, you can microwave the frozen lemon juice on low power.  Just be careful to not let it get hot, as this may affect the flavor.

When Should Lemon Juice be Thrown Out?

If you’re starting to feel a little uncertain about the state of your lemon juice, you may be considering if it’s time to throw it out.

When it is way too old.  If your lemon juice is freshly squeezed, you will know it needs to be thrown out if it is way past its lifespan.  For example, if it has been sitting in the fridge for a few weeks, it should be thrown out.

When it has been left out for too long.  Fresh lemon juice shouldn’t be left out at room temperature for long periods of time.  Generally, the rule of thumb is that it should be thrown out after being left out for more than one day.

When mold appears.  If you ever see mold on the bottle or inside your lemon juice, you should throw it out immediately.  If you have store-bought lemon juice that has been sitting in the fridge for a long time, you should check carefully for mold before using it.

When its color changes.  You can check the appearance of lemon juice to see if it has gone bad.  If the color appears dull or dark, it has probably gone bad and should be thrown out.

When it starts to smell off.  Lemon juice has a very distinct smell.  If the smell changes and smells considerably different, it’s probably time to throw it away.

When it doesn’t taste right.  If you have checked everything else and still can’t figure out if your lemon juice is still good, you can try tasting a little bit.  If the flavor is noticeably off, you should throw it out.

Storage can go a long way in determining how long lemon juice lasts, especially if it’s fresh-squeezed lemon juice that doesn’t have preservatives.

How to Properly Store Lemon Juice

A big part of keeping lemon juice good for as long as possible is storing it properly.

Keep it cold.  Lemon juice tends to go bad quickly at room temperature, especially fresh lemon juice.  If you want to keep it good for as long as possible, you should keep it refrigerated or frozen.  It can spoil at room temperature, and the flavor can break down in the heat, so always keep it cold.

Keep it sealed.  Make sure that your bottle (or another container) is always sealed tightly.  Otherwise, contaminants may get in, making it spoil.  You should never use lemon juice that was sealed without a lid, or with cracks or holes in the container.

Freeze it to extend its life.  If you want to keep your fresh lemon juice around for more than a few days, you can freeze it to store it longer.  Follow the steps in the above section to freeze it properly.

Unopened commercial lemon juice can stay in the pantry.  The stuff you buy at the store that was kept at room temperature on the shelf can stay at room temperature for a long time before you open it.  Generally, it can last in the pantry unopened for up to a year, but refrigerate it after you open it.

Is Old Lemon Juice Unsafe to Use?

If your lemon juice is a bit older than the safe range, you might be wondering what the risks are of using old lemon juice.

  • The most common result of using bad lemon juice is getting food poisoning.
  • Food poisoning can come from contaminants, such as viruses, bacteria, or other toxins.
  • The most common symptom of food poisoning from old lemon juice is diarrhea, but other symptoms such as vomiting or stomach pain may result as well.
  • Symptoms may take anywhere from a few hours or a few days to appear.
  • Food poisoning from lemon juice does not usually require hospitalization, but may in special cases.

Wrap Up

Because eating spoiled lemon juice can make you sick, it’s always a good idea to make sure your lemon juice is good before you use it.  Store it properly, and avoid lemon juice once it gets too old.

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