Does ReaLemon juice need to be refrigerated?

ReaLemon is a popular brand of lemon juice that is readily available in grocery stores. With its bright yellow color and tangy taste, ReaLemon adds flavor to everything from seafood to marinades. But does it need to be stored in the refrigerator or can it be kept in the pantry?

Quick Answer

Yes, ReaLemon juice should be refrigerated after opening. The acidity helps prevent bacterial growth at room temperature, but refrigeration is still recommended by the manufacturer.

Shelf Life of ReaLemon Juice

An unopened bottle of ReaLemon juice will stay fresh for up to 24 months. The acidity and preservatives help prevent spoilage and microbial growth. Once opened, it will stay good for up to one month in the refrigerator.

Here is a table summarizing the shelf life:

Storage Conditions Shelf Life
Unopened in pantry Up to 24 months
Opened in refrigerator Up to 1 month

The key is keeping the juice refrigerated and sealed after each use once it has been opened. The cool temperature helps slow the growth of mold and bacteria.

Does Acidity Prevent Bacterial Growth?

ReaLemon contains lemon juice concentrate, water, preservatives, and natural lemon oils. The high acidity level helps prevent bacterial growth and food spoilage:

  • pH of 2.2 – 2.4
  • High acidity from natural lemon juice concentrate
  • Added preservatives like sodium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, and potassium sorbate

Despite the acidic pH, it is still recommended to refrigerate ReaLemon after opening. While the acidity helps slow microbial growth, it does not fully prevent food spoilage. Refrigeration is the best way to maintain quality and freshness once exposed to air.

Signs ReaLemon Has Spoiled

Watch for the following signs that opened ReaLemon juice has spoiled and should be discarded:

  • Mold growth
  • Fermented smell
  • Fizzing or bubbling
  • Cloudy appearance
  • Changes in color

The acidity does not necessarily prevent mold. If you see any fuzzy growth, err on the side of caution and throw it away. Off odors, texture changes, and bubbling can also indicate microbial spoilage or fermentation.

Does Refrigeration Affect Acidity?

Refrigerating ReaLemon juice does not significantly change the pH or acidity level. Tests have shown up to a 0.2 pH variation when refrigerated. However, the juice remains safely in the acidic range of pH 2.2 to 2.4.

Refrigeration simply slows the growth of bacteria and mold. The cool environment helps preserve the quality and fresh lemon taste. But the lemon juice concentrate and preservatives continue protecting it from harmful microbial growth.

How to Store ReaLemon Juice

Follow these tips for storing ReaLemon juice:

  • Store unopened bottles in a cool, dry pantry away from direct sunlight
  • Refrigerate opened juice in the door shelves
  • Seal the bottle tightly after each use
  • Use within 1 month of opening for best quality
  • Do not store in the freezer to avoid splitting the bottle

The refrigerator door is a convenient spot that maximizes space while allowing easy access. Just be diligent about sealing the bottle to prevent any spills or leaks.

Does ReaLemon Go Bad if Left Out?

If left unrefrigerated after opening, ReaLemon can go bad due to mold growth. The manufacturer recommends using refrigerated juice within 1 month for optimal safety and quality.

Even though the lemon juice concentrate helps prevent bacterial growth naturally, it can still spoil if left out too long. Refrigeration provides an additional barrier against foodborne pathogens.

Can It Be Frozen?

Freezing is not recommended for opened ReaLemon bottles. The expansion during freezing can split seals and cause leakage. It also accelerates vitamin degradation.

If you have excess juice, consider freezing it in ice cube trays or muffin tins. Then transfer to freezer bags for longer term storage. This prevents waste while retaining the fresh taste.

Signs Your Refrigerated Juice Has Gone Bad

Check refrigerated ReaLemon juice periodically for the following signs of spoilage:

  • Mold on surface
  • Cloudy appearance
  • Changes in color or texture
  • Fermented smell
  • Fizzing or bubbling

Any changes in appearance, smell, or texture can indicate microbial growth. When in doubt, play it safe and discard the juice.

Does ReaLemon Go Bad in the Fridge?

Properly stored ReaLemon can last up to 1 month past the “best by” date in the refrigerator. But eventually the quality deteriorates and spoilage becomes a risk.

Always inspect juice before use. Signs it may be expired include:

  • Mold on surface or under lid
  • Fermented or yeasty smell
  • Fizzing, bubbles, or effervescence
  • Cloudiness and changes in color

The juice can grow mold or ferment in the fridge over time. Discard if you see any signs of spoilage.

How to Tell When Refrigerated Juice Is Bad?

Here are tips for determining when refrigerated ReaLemon juice has gone bad and needs to be discarded:

  • Check expiration date – within 1 month of opening
  • Inspect appearance – discard if mold, clouds, separation, or rings form
  • Smell juice – sniff for fermented, yeasty, or rotten odors
  • Note changes in texture – watch for sliminess
  • Check for fizzing or bubbling when bottle opened

Changes in the look, smell, or texture almost always mean the juice is past its prime and potentially unsafe. Erring on the side of caution prevents foodborne illness.

Does ReaLemon Juice Ever Need Preservatives Added?

ReaLemon juice already contains preservatives like sodium bisulfite, potassium sorbate, and sodium metabisulfite. Additional preservatives are not needed if properly stored and used within recommended time limits.

The preservatives along with acidity help prevent mold, fermentation, and bacterial growth. Refrigeration further inhibits microbial spoilage once opened.

Should You Freeze Leftover ReaLemon Juice?

Freezing leftover ReaLemon juice can extend its shelf life while preserving the flavor. Consider these freezing tips:

  • Freeze in ice cube trays or muffin tins first
  • Transfer to freezer bags after solidly frozen
  • Squeeze air out before sealing bags
  • Label bags with date and contents
  • Use within 3-6 months for best quality

Freezing prevents waste while retaining the fresh lemon taste. The juice cubes can be popped out and added to recipes or drinks for convenience.

What Happens If You Freeze ReaLemon Juice?

Freezing ReaLemon juice causes expansion that can split seals and crack bottles. But the juice can safely be frozen in ice cube trays or small containers first.

Juice cubes retain flavor and nutrition well in the freezer. Some impacts include:

  • Expansion splits seals on bottles
  • Vitamin C degrades faster than refrigerated juice
  • Can absorb freezer odors over time
  • Slight change in texture when thawed
  • May need to shake or stir after thawing

For best results, use frozen ReaLemon juice within 3-6 months. The cubes provide a convenient way to preserve excess juice.

Can You Substitute Fresh Lemon Juice for ReaLemon?

Freshly squeezed lemon juice can be used in place of ReaLemon in recipes. However, keep these differences in mind:

  • Fresh lemon juice has a shorter shelf life.
  • The juice may need to be strained to remove pulp or seeds.
  • Freshly squeezed juice has a brighter, more intense flavor.
  • You may need to use slightly more or less fresh juice to achieve the desired tartness.
  • Adjust other liquids in the recipe to account for extra juice or moisture.

When substituting fresh lemon juice, add it at the end to preserve the most flavor. Start with 3/4 the amount of ReaLemon called for and adjust to taste.

Does Lemon Juice Like ReaLemon Ever Need Water Added?

ReaLemon is already diluted to the proper consistency for use in recipes. Extra water should not need to be added.

The juice concentrate is formulated to have a balanced lemon flavor when mixed with water at the factory. Diluting it further can throw off the intended taste and acidity level.

If a recipe calls for additional water to be added to ReaLemon, it likely means fresh-squeezed lemon juice. In that case, use 3/4 of the ReaLemon amount and add water to equal the total juice needed.

What Is a Good ReaLemon Juice Substitute?

Some good substitutes for ReaLemon juice include:

  • Fresh lemon juice – Use 3/4 of the ReaLemon amount. Add water if dilution needed.
  • Lime juice – 1:1 substitution for tartness
  • White vinegar or apple cider vinegar – Start with half vinegar to juice ratio
  • Wine vinegar – Non-alcoholic option, use 1:1
  • Low-sodium vegetable or fruit juice – For health-conscious recipes

Citrus juices like lemon, lime, or orange make the closest replacements. Vinegars work well to replicate tartness and acidity. Get creative with combinations of juice and vinegar to find a flavor balance.


ReaLemon juice adds bright, vibrant flavor to recipes thanks to its lemon concentrate and natural lemon oil. While the acidity helps prevent bacterial growth, optimal safety and quality require refrigeration once opened.

Check bottles for signs of spoilage like mold, fizzing, or an off smell. Discard if any changes are noted. Frozen in cubes, the leftover juice can enhance recipes and drinks for up to 3-6 months.

ReaLemon eliminates juicing hassles with concentrate that equals the taste of fresh-squeezed juice. Follow proper storage and food safety tips to enjoy its convenience and flavor.

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