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Does Lemon Juice Go Bad If Not Refrigerated? How Long Does it Last?

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonades.”

Everyone is familiar with the “lemon quote.” The essential ingredients are lemon juice, sugar, and water to make lemonades.

The question is, does the essential lemon juice last “forever”? Does lemon juice go bad?  This article gives you facts on lemon juice’s shelf life and storage.

30-Second Summary

Lemon juice can go bad. Freshly squeezed juice can last up to 2 or 3 days in the fridge. Bottled juice can stay for about one year.

Keep opened bottles sealed and store them in the refrigerator. Keep unopened bottles away from light and in a cool dark place.

If your juice’s flavor, color, and taste change, discard it. The juice might be spoiled.

Does Lemon Juice Go Bad?

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Yes! Like every food, lemon juice will go bad at some point. Factors like temperature, air, and handling or storage methods can affect how your lemons go bad.

Now that it’s settled that lemon juice goes bad, how long can it last?

Does Bottled Lemon Juice Go Bad?

Yes. Bottled Lemon Juice can go bad. It is easier for bottled lemon juice that has been opened to go bad. This is because it has been exposed to air.

However, it doesn’t mean it will go bad immediately because it has been opened. It can last for at least half a year or the duration specified by the manufacturer.

Does Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice Go Bad?

Yes, fresh lemon juice can go bad. The rate at which it can get spoiled fastens when it’s not refrigerated.

Does Lemon Juice Go Bad at Room Temperature?

Yes, lemon juice goes bad at room temperature. Fresh Lemon Juice is more prone to going bad faster.

Keep this rule in mind; if your fresh lemon juice has stayed at room temperature for over a day, discard it.

Does Lemon Juice Go Bad if Not Refrigerated?

Yes and No. Don’t be confused; this is why we have both answers.

We say yes because fresh lemon juice can go bad faster if not refrigerated. It’ll be exposed to air, and microbes can breed faster; the best option is refrigeration to keep it fresh.

In contrast, we say no because an unopened bottle of lemon juice does not go bad if it isn’t refrigerated.

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You see bottled lemon juice stacked on the shelves when you go grocery shopping, right? That’s because they contain preservatives. This can prolong their shelf life. So without refrigeration, they can still last for a while.

This raises the question, does lemon juice need to be refrigerated?

Does Lemon Juice Need to be Refrigerated?

Yes, lemon juice needs to be refrigerated, especially fresh lemon juice.

Apart from the role of preservation, refrigerating your lemon juice gives it that extra coolness.

Imagine a cold glass of lemonade on a hot day, refreshing and perfect!

How to Decide Which Type of Lemon Juice to Use?

If you plan to use lemon juice for a quick meal or a refreshing drink, freshly squeezed juice is your best option.

But if you want to use it as a seasoning or flavoring, then a bottle is better. Bottle juices overall have a longer shelf life.

Can You Freeze Lemon Juice?

Yes. You can freeze lemon juice in a deep freezer. Lemon juice can be frozen for 3 months.

How Long Does Lemon Juice Last?

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Apart from the factors mentioned earlier, the type of lemon juice determines how long it can last. By type, we mean fresh lemon juice or bottled lemon juice.

Fresh Lemon Juice

Fresh lemon juice is easily prone to spoilage, especially if stored improperly.

Bacteria and yeast molds grow faster on fresh foods, juice inclusive.

If stored properly, fresh squeezed lemon juice can ideally last 2 to 3 days. By proper storage, we mean storing in the refrigerator or freezer.

However, there is a trick to buying more time for your fresh lemons. If you intend to store it in a freezer, you can put your fresh lemon juice in an ice tray, then freeze it. This method can keep your juice fresh for a week before it spoils.

Don’t worry; you can always turn it back to lemon juice when you need it. Put the cubes in a glass jar, add sugar and water- enjoy!

Bottled Lemon Juice

Unlike fresh lemon juice, bottled lemon juice has a longer shelf life. Bottled Lemon Juice can last up to one year.

However, this shelf life depends on the date of manufacture and preservative content of the lemon juice.

Some bottled juices may last for less than a year. You might wonder: “how can I tell how long my bottled lemon juice will last?”

That’s pretty easy. Check the “Best by” or “Sell by” date. If the date is very far from the production date, it can last for long. If the date is close, it’ll last for a shorter time.

A longer time also shows it has significant preservative content.

Unopened bottled juices also tend to last longer than opened juices. This is because they haven’t come into contact with air, so oxidation can’t occur.

Since lemon juices can get spoiled, how can you tell if your lemon juice is bad?

How to Tell if Lemon Juice is Bad

Although lemon juice is an acidic fruit [1], it can go bad. If it contains no preservatives, you can expect the rate of spoilage to be twice as fast.

To determine if your lemon juice is sour, use three indicators:

Color

Lemon juice has a pretty attractive, bright, creamy yellow color. However, if this color turns darker and becomes unappealing, that is the first sign of spoilage.

Smell

Lemon juice has a fresh, pleasant aroma. It is cool and not irritating. If you smell your fresh lemon juice and get a harsh smell that isn’t normal, please discard it. It’s bad.

Taste

Tasting lemon juice is a sure way to tell its viability. So, if you get an odd and unusually harsh or sour flavor, then it’s high time you open fresh lemons.

How to Store Lemon Juice

To get the best result from your lemon juice, ensure you store it properly.  

Depending on the type of lemon juice, apply any of the following storage methods.

Cool, Dark Area

If your lemon juice is in a clear plastic bottle, store it away from light. Keep your bottled juice in a cool, dark area.

The kitchen pantry or a cupboard will suffice; ensure it’s away from heat sources.

Refrigeration and Freezing

If your bottle of lemon juice is open already, then ensure you seal it tightly after use and refrigerate. This will preserve the quality of the juice.

Freezing is another superb option for storing fresh lemon juice. You can freeze your lemon juice into ice cubes using an ice tray.

Storage in glass containers.

Wide-mouthed glass or steel containers are best to store juices. Plastic bottles can quickly release toxins into the liquid after a while.

Saran Wrap

Saran wrap supports the strong seal of your juice container to preserve fresh juice.

Remember that refrigerating your fresh juice keeps it cool and reduces the rate at which it becomes spoiled.

We try to keep our juice fresh to get the most out of them. But is there a side effect if we consume expired lemon juice?

Risk of Drinking Expired Lemon Juice

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A common issue that results from drinking expired lemon juice is food poisoning [2].

Food poisoning can result from the toxins or bacteria present in rotten food.

Other risks associated with consuming expired lemon juice include diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, etc.

Usually, these symptoms begin to show in a few hours or two days. If you notice any of these, discard the lemon juice and visit the doctor.

To prevent yourself from the risk of expired lemon juice, store it properly and discard it as soon as you see signs of spoilage.

Final Words

Lemon juice is helpful in the kitchen, adding zest and a “zing” to your recipe. Remember to refrigerate always and for the appropriate time.

When life gives you too much lemons, juice them and refrigerate them for that hot day.

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I’m Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I love cooking, reading, and my kids! Here you’ll find the healthiest recipes & substitutions for your cooking. Enjoy, and be well, friends!

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