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Does Lemon Juice Go Bad?

Maria Foster
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by Maria Foster

We all know the story, you open up a bottle of lemon juice because you were trying out a new recipe, or had a particular craving, and then the half-used bottle of lemon juice has since sat in your refrigerator or your pantry for a while.

Does Lemon Juice Go Bad?

But what if you’ve gone to use it again after all this time, and the use-by date on the bottle has passed? Is it okay to be used? Or should you toss it in the trash and accept that you’re going to need to buy some more?

If this sounds like you, then don’t worry, as we’re here to help you deduce whether or not you’ll still be able to use that lemon juice you’ve got lying around, no matter whether you bought it from the store, or squeezed it yourself!

How To Store Lemon Juice?

When it comes to storing lemon juice at home, you should always aim to follow the same procedures as you would when storing other fruit juices, which means keeping them out of any direct sunlight, and away from any heat sources too.

Both your pantry and any of your kitchen cupboards should be suitable for this, so you shouldn’t have any issues finding somewhere to store your lemon juice.

However, if you’ve opened up your lemon juice, you’ll need to make sure that before you put it back away in storage you ensure the lid has been tightly resealed, and that you then place it into the refrigerator in your home.

While the lemon juice you buy from the store will add a certain amount of preservatives, it’ll also benefit significantly because the citric acid it contains is a natural preservative.

The only problem is that the quality and taste of the juice can decline rapidly when left out of the refrigerator once it’s been opened. This is why the refrigerator is usually the recommended storage place for it when opened.

Another way you could store your lemon juice is in the freezer. By pouring the lemon juice into the sections of an ice cube tray, you can then portion your lemon juice ready for when you need to use it in your cooking.

Ice-cubed lemon juice also works as a particularly refreshing addition to a drink on a warm or hot day too, just add one or two in and enjoy. The same goes for fresh lemon juice that you’ve squeezed yourself too.

Once it’s been squeezed, if you want to keep your lemon juice fresher for longer, then you’ll need to transfer it into a sealable bottle and keep it stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it again.

Should Lemon Juice Be Placed In The Refrigerator?

While many people think you can just keep lemon juice stored in the pantry or cupboard, once it’s been opened you’ll need to make sure it’s transferred to the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it again.

Thankfully, lemon juice can usually last for a couple of months when stored in the refrigerator, so you’ll have plenty of time to use it up before it expires.

How Long Does Lemon Juice Last?

The shelf life of lemon juice is a fickle thing, and depending on whether the fluid is fresh, from a bottle, how long it can last can change dramatically.

In this section, we’ll take a look at the shelf life of both fresh and bottled lemon juice, so you can tell whether or not yours is safe to use and drink!

Fresh Lemon Juice

Does Lemon Juice Go Bad?

Typically, if you squeeze some fresh lemon juice and then put it into a resealable container before refrigerating it, you’ll be able to make it last somewhere between 3 to 4 days after it’s been squeezed.

The shortened shelf life of fresh lemon juice can be frustrating, especially if you don’t manage to use it all at once. It lasts a lot longer than bottled lemon juice due to the overall lack of added preservatives to keep it fresher for longer.

Thankfully, this makes fresh lemon juice perfect for the method of freezing we mentioned earlier. By using an ice cube tray, you’ll be able to create ice cubes made from lemon juice, which will allow you to thaw and use them as you need them.

Use the lemon juice the recipe you’re cooking asks for, pour the rest into an ice cube tray, and put them in the freezer, and then you can thaw them out once you need them again.

Or if you don’t have any freezer space going free, then why not try to put the spare lemon juice to good use? Baking and cooking is another great way of using up your fresh lemon juice, and the results are always delicious.

Things such as lemon curd are always a great idea, especially since it tends to have a much longer shelf life than fresh lemon juice, which is thanks to the addition of sugar.

If you’ve bought a bottle of fresh lemon juice from your local grocery store, then it too will likely have a much shorter shelf life than regular bottles of lemon juice, but it’ll also likely outlast any lemon juice that you’ve squeezed yourself at home!

Bottled Lemon Juice

Suppose you’ve bought some lemon juice from your store that was in an unrefrigerated bottle. In that case, you can usually get away with using this lemon juice up to 4 months past the expiration date, due to the preservatives and citric acid found inside.

Of course, this does change when you open the bottle. In this case, you’ll be able to use the lemon juice until the expiration date, or for up to 12 months after opening (whichever comes first), where the quality will then begin to decrease significantly, and you’ll have to purchase a new bottle.

Another one of the reasons why unrefrigerated store-bought bottles of lemon juice last so much longer than fresh lemon juice is down to the fact that the companies that manufacture it use concentrate diluted with water to produce something that resembles lemon juice.

Plus, the addition of preservatives, as well as the pasteurization to help kill any bacteria all means that the lemon juice will generally tend to last for much longer than you might expect it to.

No matter what bottle of lemon juice you buy, they’ll all feature a use-by date or a best-before date somewhere on their packaging.

This, of course, is meant to tell you how long the juice will stay fresh, but the reality is that for this type of lemon juice, it’s a conservative estimate. You’ll be able to use this kind of lemon juice for months past its expiration date so long as it hasn’t been opened.

An opened bottle of lemon juice will stay fresh for around 12 months, or until its expiration date, so there’s no real rush to use up your juice, and you can always freeze it in an ice cube tray if the expiration date is coming too soon for you to use it up!

Expired Lemon Juice

Now, if you have an expired bottle of lemon juice in your pantry or refrigerator, then you’ll know from what we’ve discussed already that it’ll easily last for months past its supposed expiration date. But what happens when you open this bottle? How long will it last then?

Unfortunately, there’s no real way of telling, which means it’s something you’ll need to evaluate each time you go to use the juice.

A safe estimate would presumably be somewhere between a month to 3 months, but for the sake of safety, it’s probably best to use it as soon as you can.

It definitely won’t spoil within a few days of it being open, but you might see a slight drop in the quality of the juice, which in turn might affect whatever you’re using it for, whether it’s for cocktails, cooking, or something else.

So, now that you know how long lemon juice lasts, it’ll be a good idea to tell you about how you can tell whether it’s gone bad!

How To Tell If Lemon Juice Has Gone Bad?

Unrefrigerated bottled lemon juice loses its quality incredibly slowly, so much so that it’s almost hard to tell that it’s going bad until it tastes completely rancid.

If you’re someone who uses just a small amount every day, then you definitely won’t notice it, but if you leave it for months before using it again, then the difference will be noticeable.

Both the smell and the taste change, at which point it’s down to you to decide whether or not you want to keep using it.

Of course, if the usual signs of expiration are showing, such as mold spots, change of color, and complete sourness, then you might want to purchase a new bottle.

The same applies to fresh lemon juice, but the process is much faster, and you can usually expect to see a significant drop in quality after just a few days of being unused.

If you’re ever unsure of whether or not your lemon juice has gone bad, be sure to discard your current juice, and simply purchase a new one instead.

Final Thoughts

We hope that our guide to whether or not lemon juice goes bad has been helpful. Just remember, that no matter whether it’s fresh or bottled, by freezing it, you’ll be able to keep the quality and freshness prolonged for longer. Thanks for reading!

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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