Lemon juice is something everyone has in their kitchen, whether it’s to add it to other foods, use in certain recipes, or simply have it on its own.
Many people resort to purchasing commercial lemon juice with preservatives, as this lasts longer after opening, but others choose to squeeze their own lemons to avoid juices without the preservatives.
While it typically acts as a natural preservative on its own, does lemon juice go bad itself? That is the question I am here to answer today.
While lemon and its juice offer many health benefits, there is also a time limit to how long these benefits are available before your lemons start to go bad. Before you think about buying in bulk, be sure to know the shelf-life of lemons and their juice.
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How Long Does Lemon Juice Last?
There are two types of lemon juices to know about before you store it for better measure; commercially bought juice and its freshly squeezed counterpart. Both juice varieties each have their own lifespan, even if you store them the exact same way.
First, commercially bought lemon juice is a little trickier since there is a variety of options to choose from. Some juices are packed full of preservatives, others with only a handful, a few with minimal to no preservatives at all.
Depending on the preservatives, the lifespan is different. The more there are, the longer your lemon juice will last. However, this never means it can last forever.
How Long Does Store-Bought Lemon Juice Last?
Lemon juice stays in peak condition for as long as the bottle remains sealed. Once you open the container, you need to store it properly. You can leave the juice outside, but this will cut its lifespan into half of what it could have been.
Lemon juice can live up to 12 to 18 months in the fridge, without any worry of it going bad, even if it’s continuously used during this period. If you intend on freezing your lemon juice, it can be used for even longer.
The expiration date given on the container is the manufacturer’s approximation of how it will last in peak condition. Lemon juice is safe to use after its expiration date until you notice certain signs of it going bad.
How Long Does Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice Last?
Freshly squeezed lemon juice is a completely different story. Since there are no preservatives in this, it does not last very long at all. Once you have made it, homemade lemon juice can last no more than a couple of days.
The catch is the longer you have fresh, homemade lemon juice, the less beneficial it’ll be. The quality of squeezed lemon juice depletes by the day, so it’s best to consume your lemon juice as soon as possible, or better yet only make as much as you’re going to have immediately.
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How to Tell if Lemon Juice Has Gone Bad?
There are different indicators that tell you that your lemon juice has gone bad.
- First off is the smell of the lemon juice. That once pleasant scent of lemon will disappear and be replaced with a damp or moldy smell.
- Then there is the appearance of the juice after a while. Lemon juice that has gone bad can have a much lighter or darker color than before, depending on the preservatives used as well as the surrounding temperature.
- There will also be a difference in the taste as well as texture. In worst-case scenarios, you may even see mold developing on the inside of the container and over the juice itself. That’s when you know for sure, that using the juice is out of the question.
- If the container of the lemon juice is deformed upon purchase, leaking, dented severely, or bulging out after time, then you must throw it away immediately. Its contents have definitely gone bad or are not safe for consumption.
Freshly squeezed lemon juice has a tighter lifespan but can present the same signs of aging. The rule of thumb, in this case, is if you have left the juice out for a day, it’s safe to assume it’s no longer good and throw it out guilt-free.
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How to Tell if Lemons Have Gone Bad?
Lemons and lemon juice are two different stories, but it’s important to know how long lemons last if you’re a fan of making your own homemade lemon juice.
To start off, lemons don’t have the longest lifespan, so buying lemons in bulk isn’t the best idea. At room temperature, lemons can last 7 to 14 days maximum until you start to notice them going bad. Placing them in the fridge will extend their life to 1 month and placing them in the freezer extends it to 3 to 4 months. If you have sliced up your lemons, then these slices will only last 3 to 4 days, even in the fridge, so use them as quickly as possible.
Signs that your lemons have gone bad include the following:
- The skin of the lemon is browning, with either lighter or darker spots developing. If they are concentrated to one part of the lemon, then you can cut that part off and safely use the rest. If they are all over, then the whole lemon has gone bad.
- The skin of the lemon has turned green or white in color, and a layer of fuzz is growing over it. This means there is mold on your lemon. If your lemon is turning green, but it smells the same and there is no fuzz or texture difference, then this change is solely because of the temperature around it. The lemon is still good to eat.
- The skin of the lemon is mushy and soft in places, or it started drying up and became wrinkled. This means the lemon is losing its moisture and is no longer usable.
- When the skin of the lemon becomes slimy it means the juice is seeping out of the skin. And if powdery, it means there is mold growing on top of the lemon. Both are reasons enough to not use this lemon.
- Last but not least, take a whiff of the lemon. If that citric, zingy aroma is no longer there, then the lemon is no longer the sour fruit it once was.
Does Lemon Juice Go Bad? Final Thoughts
Lemons and lemon juice are extremely beneficial to your health, but they can go bad. The above are some ways to determine when lemon juice goes bad.
Just remember that the fresher they are, the quicker they deplete in quality. So, it’s best to have your lemon juice as soon as possible to get the maximum benefits and not waste anything along the way.
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