How do you store lemon juice for a long time at home?

Lemon juice is a versatile ingredient that can be used to add flavor to many dishes and drinks. However, fresh lemon juice only lasts for a few days in the refrigerator. To keep lemon juice fresh for longer, it needs to be stored properly. There are a few methods for storing lemon juice at home so it stays fresh and flavorful for weeks or even months.

Should You Refrigerate or Freeze Lemon Juice?

Freshly squeezed lemon juice can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Both methods help prevent spoilage and preserve the flavor, acidity, vitamin C content, and other nutrients in the juice. Here is an overview of how to store lemon juice in the fridge vs. freezer:

Refrigerating Lemon Juice

  • Pour freshly squeezed lemon juice into an airtight container, mason jar, or lemon-shaped juice dispenser.
  • Make sure the container is clean and sterilized.
  • Store the container in the refrigerator, not the door.
  • Properly refrigerated lemon juice lasts for up to 2 weeks.

Freezing Lemon Juice

  • Squeeze fresh lemon juice and pour it into ice cube trays or freezer-safe silicone molds.
  • Freeze overnight until solid.
  • Transfer the frozen lemon juice cubes to an airtight freezer bag.
  • Frozen lemon juice keeps for up to 6 months.

The main advantage of refrigerating lemon juice is convenience – you can use it right away. Freezing portioned lemon juice makes it easy to pop out a cube or two as needed. The vitamin C content degrades faster when frozen, so refrigeration is best for preservation.

What Containers Work Best for Storing Lemon Juice?

The container you choose for storing lemon juice can make a difference in how long it lasts. Look for containers that are airtight, durable, and made from inert materials that won’t react with the acidic juice. Here are some good options:

Glass Jar or Bottle

  • Glass is nonporous and won’t transfer flavors or odors.
  • Use a narrow-necked jar to minimize air exposure.
  • Make sure there is enough headspace at the top.
  • Sterilize first with boiling water.

Plastic Container or Squeeze Bottle

  • Opt for food-grade plastic like PETE or PET.
  • Avoid reused plastic containers that may transfer flavors.
  • Only use BPA-free plastic.
  • Hand-wash and air dry to prevent warping.

Silicone Mold

  • For freezing, silicone molds are convenient and reusable.
  • Choose mold shapes that are easy to pop out.
  • Make sure molds are dishwasher safe.

No matter what type of container you use, make sure to label it with the date so you know when it was prepared. Avoid any containers with cracks or worn plastic that may harbor bacteria.

What’s the Best Way to Prepare Lemon Juice for Storage?

Proper preparation is key to maximizing how long lemon juice stays fresh. Follow these best practices when making lemon juice to store:

  1. Wash lemons and scrub the outer peel to remove wax and chemicals.
  2. Cut in half and juice lemons at room temperature – avoid warm lemons.
  3. Use a juicer or reamer to extract the most juice possible.
  4. Remove any seeds or pulp for the smoothest juice.
  5. Pour immediately into the cold, sterile storage container.
  6. Make sure no lemon flesh, oil or pith gets transferred.
  7. Allow any foam to settle before sealing.
  8. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace if refrigerating; 1/4 inch if freezing.
  9. Seal tightly and label with the date.

Straining the juice through a fine mesh sieve can help remove excess pulp and foam for maximum freshness. Consume or freeze the juice within a few hours of juicing for best quality.

How Long Does Lemon Juice Last in the Fridge or Freezer?

Here are the approximate timelines for how long properly stored lemon juice will stay fresh and retain good flavor and acidity:


  • Fresh lemon juice in a sterilized, sealed container: 2-3 weeks
  • Commercial pasteurized lemon juice: 6-8 weeks after opening


  • Fresh lemon juice in silicone molds or cubes: 4-6 months
  • Commercial frozen lemon juice concentrate: 9-12 months

Signs that refrigerated lemon juice has gone bad include mold growth, browning, fermentation bubbles, or off odors. Frozen lemon juice may get freezer burn or start tasting stale after long storage. Portioning juice into ice cube trays helps prevent waste.

Tips for Maximizing Shelf Life of Lemon Juice

Follow these handy tips to get the longest shelf life out of your home-prepared lemon juice:

  • Wash lemon skins thoroughly before juicing.
  • Use clean, sterile equipment and containers.
  • Remove pulp and foam from strained juice.
  • Store lemon juice in airtight containers, not plastic bags.
  • Keep refrigerated juice away from ethylene-producing fruits.
  • Freeze any excess for later use within a few hours of juicing.
  • Leave 1/2 inch of headspace in jars for expansion.
  • Choose cold storage over the fridge door.
  • Wrap frozen juice packages well to prevent freezer burn.
  • Label storage containers with the preparation date.

Being meticulous about juicing techniques, storage methods, and conditions helps retained the fresh-squeezed lemon taste. Discard any juice that smells, looks, or tastes off after prolonged storage.

What Are the Signs that Lemon Juice Has Gone Bad?

Check your stored lemon juice periodically for any of the following signs that it is spoiled and should be discarded:

  • Appearance: Cloudiness, particles, sliminess, or layer of film/foam
  • Texture: Increased viscosity or grittiness
  • Color: Browning, darkening, or graying
  • Aroma: Fermented smell, alcohol odor, vinegary tang
  • Taste: Moldy, tangy, bitter, metallic, or rancid
  • Bubbles: Carbonation, fizzing, or fermentation bubbles
  • Mold: Hairy or fuzzy mold spots; dry, powdery film

Discard lemon juice immediately if you notice any of these warning signs. Do not taste juice that shows spoilage.

Can You Tell if Lemon Juice Is Bad by How It Looks?

Appearance is one way to gauge whether refrigerated or frozen lemon juice has gone bad, although looks alone don’t always indicate spoilage. Here are some visible signs that may mean lemon juice is no longer fresh and should be discarded:

  • Cloudiness: The juice looks hazy, opaque, or has particles floating in it.
  • Foam: There is a white film or frothy foam on the surface.
  • Sediment: You see grains, bits of pulp, or other sediment settled on the bottom.
  • Mold: There are visible hairy spots, dots, or powdery film that resemble mold.
  • Discoloration: The lemon juice has darkened and is no longer pale yellow.

While cloudiness, particles, or layer of foam do not necessarily mean the juice has spoiled, they can be early warning signs. When in doubt, use the smell or taste test to confirm before consuming.

What Happens If You Drink Bad Lemon Juice?

Drinking spoiled lemon juice that contains mold or bacteria could cause unpleasant symptoms or food poisoning. Potential risks and side effects include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or fever
  • A bad taste sensation that lingers

The acidic environment of lemon juice makes it unlikely to harbor the kinds of dangerous bacteria that can cause severe foodborne illnesses. But mold and yeast overgrowth may occur. Consuming just a small amount of tainted lemon juice can lead to temporary digestive issues in healthy adults.

Can Lemon Juice Be Salvaged if Part Has Gone Bad?

If only part of your refrigerated lemon juice shows signs of spoilage, the remainder may still be usable if handled properly. Here are some tips for salvaging the good part of a lemon juice container:

  • First, inspect juice closely and discard any with visible mold or fuzz.
  • Smell and taste the juice to confirm it has not fermented or spoiled.
  • Strain out any pulp, foam, or particles through cheesecloth or a fine sieve.
  • Boil remaining juice and cool if concerned about bacteria.
  • Use quickly within a day or two and do not re-refrigerate.
  • Store in sterilized containers to prevent recontamination.

Freezer-burned frozen juice can also sometimes be rescued by boiling and straining. However, juice with obvious signs of spoilage is safest to discard.

Can You Extend the Shelf Life of Lemon Juice?

There are a few tricks that may help extend the shelf life of homemade lemon juice by a week or more when properly refrigerated or frozen:

  • Acidification: Add citric acid or lemon juice powder.
  • Sweeteners: Mix in sugar, honey, or glycerin.
  • Vitamin C: Add ascorbic acid powder or crushed tablets.
  • Sterilization: Heat sealed jars in a water bath canner.
  • Freezing: Portion into ice cube trays or molds.
  • Canning: Can lemon juice using a pressure canner.

Combining these preservation methods can help homemade lemon juice stay fresher longer in the refrigerator or freezer. But flavor, color, and nutrient retention may be affected.


With proper juicing, storage methods, and conditions, lemon juice can stay fresh and flavorful for up to 3 weeks in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer. Using sterilized containers, limiting air exposure, straining out pulp, and freezing portioned amounts are all effective ways to maximize shelf life at home. Check periodically for any signs of spoilage and discard lemon juice at the first indication it has gone bad.

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