How Long Fresh-Squeezed Lemon And Lime Juices Last In The Fridge

If you've zested and then juiced a lemon or lime for a recipe, and you have some of the juice left over afterwards, you may have no idea how to store it. Or, perhaps you like to juice lots of citrus at once so it's ready whenever you need it. While it is convenient to have lots of fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice on hand, for everything from salad dressing to impromptu margaritas, the juice won't last forever. 

While commercially-produced citrus juice that you buy bottled can last up to a year, even after opening, the fresh-squeezed kind is best consumed within one to four days, depending on the type of juice and how you store it. Lemons are slightly more forgiving than limes. Fresh lime juice can develop an off flavor within just twenty-four hours, while lemon juice can last for up to a few days. After that, both juices may taste bland or "off," not to mention they can be dangerous to consume. Storing the juice properly in the first place can mitigate some of these concerns.

Storing fresh-squeezed citrus juice

After juicing a lemon, lime, or other citrus fruit, you should transfer the juice to an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator as soon as possible. When citrus juice is exposed to air, it immediately begins to oxidize and turn less fresh. For this reason, you should ideally juice your citrus right before using it in your food or beverages, but sometimes — especially when hosting a group gathering — juicing in advance just has to be done. In this case, juice your citrus the morning of the event and keep it in the fridge, never uncovering or taking it out until you're ready to use it. This will ensure that it is safe to consume and retains its refreshing flavor.

If you do not store your fresh citrus juice properly, bacteria will start to form, and its taste will go from bright and pleasant to bitter and off-putting. When lemon or lime juice has spoiled, it may develop a strange odor, change color, or show signs of mold. Toss the juice out if you're unsure of its safety.

What to do with a lot of lemons and limes

If you find yourself with an abundance of lemons and limes, some free time, and a craving for something sweet, try making three-ingredient sorbet, using the citrus peels as adorable (and biodegradable) bowls. These make for an impressive dessert, so invite some friends over and you can burn through some more citrus in the form of batched cocktails and big bowls of guacamole. Just make sure that you keep the juice in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.

If you're not in a place to throw a party, and you find yourself with more fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice than you know what to do with, fear not. You can significantly prolong the shelf life of citrus juice by moving it from the fridge to the freezer. Simply pour the juice into an ice cube tray, which will make it easier to use as needed, and freeze it for up to three months.