You can use lemon juice for a range of purposes, like making it into lemonade or using it for cooking. How long you can expect your lemon juice to last depends on whether you mean pure and self-extracted lemon juice or commercial bottles. Many also refer to lemonade as lemon juice, which has its own shelf life.
Technically, the answer is yes; lemon juice does go bad eventually. However, how long it will take to go bad can depend on the kind of lemon juice it is and how you have stored it.
Since lemon juice contains citrus or citric acid, you can generally expect it to last for a long time since it is a widely used preservative itself. With the presence of other ingredients (more common with commercial varieties of lemon juice), the lifespan can be even longer.
It can be confusing to figure out, especially if you have some lemon juice lying around that you want to make use of. What exactly should you do in this case? Is it safe to still use? How can you store lemon juice to ensure it stays good in quality, taste and safety?
You can go through the answers to all these questions below.
Best Way to Store and Maintain Lemon Juice
There are several ways to store and maintain lemon juice, although this can depend on the kind of lemon juice it is.
In either case, however, you should note that while the lemon juice might still be safe to consume even in terms of taste, its vitamin C content might have broken down already if quite a bit of time has passed.
You can go through the storage requirements for the different kinds of lemon juice below.
Store-Bought Lemon Juice
If you have bought lemon juice from the store or supermarket, then it is likely to contain its own set of preservatives in addition to citric acid itself. This can mean that this kind of lemon juice is bound to last for a long time.
Usually, store-bought or commercial lemon juice comes in bottles, containers or even Tetra Paks. These are all tightly sealed when you buy them (although you should double-check this to ensure that there are no holes or broken seals).
Due to their packaging and preservative content, you can store this juice at room temperature. However, once you open it, you should refrigerate it immediately. You can also refrigerate it immediately since this has a better chance of making the juice last longer.
After opening, you can also pour the juice into ice trays and freeze it to increase its life even more. This way, you can use individual cubes when required while storing the rest in the freezer.
Make sure you also check the packaging for other specific storage conditions.
Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
If you have squeezed your own lemon juice at home, the storage conditions and requirements will be a bit different compared to commercially bought lemon juice.
This is because freshly squeezed lemon juice only contains citric acid as a preservative, which is why you will immediately need to store it in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed bottle or container.
However, you can also freeze this lemon juice by pouring it into ice trays and then using the cubes individually as and when required.
Lemonade is a beverage that contains lemon juice mixed with some water and sugar or another such sweetener, and it can also include a bit of salt. How you should store lemonade can also depend on whether you have made it at home or bought it from the store.
If you have made the lemonade at home, you should immediately store it in the refrigerator. You can also keep it in the freezer.
For commercially bought lemonade, how you store it can depend on the packaging instructions and ingredients. Usually, you might be okay storing this lemonade in a cool and dry spot, although you will need to refrigerate or freeze it after you open it.
Durability and Lifespan of Lemon Juice
The shelf life of lemon juice can differ based on the kind of lemon juice you have. You can take a look at the specifications for each kind below to find out how long you can expect it to last.
Store-Bought Lemon Juice
When it comes to lemon juice that you have bought from the store or supermarket, you can expect it to last for several months. This is because this kind of lemon juice is likely to contain several preservatives such as sodium benzoate and sulfites while also being made from concentrate from lemon and purified water.
You can check the lifespan of this kind of lemon juice on the label of the packaging. Based on this, you can then expect it to last for around three months, although you might actually be able to use it for up to six months without any change in its taste or smell, even if you open it.
In case you store it in the freezer, you can even use it for up to a year.
However, some brands might sell lemon juice without any preservatives, which you will need to refrigerate immediately after buying. In this case, you will have to use it up within two weeks or so, although you can check the taste and smell beyond this time period.
You can make it last for a few months if you freeze it.
Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
Freshly squeezed lemon juice will last you for three or four days or even up to a week, even in the refrigerator. This short lifespan of freshly squeezed lemon juice is due to the lack of preservatives along with the bacteria that might develop or transfer from the peel of the lemons.
Freezing it can make it last for a few months.
Related: Do Lemons Go Bad? How Long Do Lemons Last?
If you have fresh lemonade that you made yourself, then you can expect it to last for up to a week in the refrigerator as long as you store it properly and seal it tightly. You can also freeze it to make it last for a couple of months.
If you buy lemonade from the store, you can make it last for three weeks in the refrigerator and another couple of weeks after you open it. Freezing it will make it last for up to a year.
Further Reading: Food Storing Guide: Storage Times For The Refrigerator And Freezer
How to Find Out If Lemon Juice Has Gone Bad
If you are confused about whether your lemon juice has gone bad, you should look for the following signs.
- Check the packaging (if any). If it is beyond the expiry date, this can give you a general idea of what to expect.
- See how the lemon juice looks. Mold, different colors and a watery appearance can indicate that it has gone bad.
- If it smells odd or foul, it has gone bad.
- If you taste it and it tastes bad, you should throw/pour it out.
Lemon juice can go bad but commercially bought lemon juice can last longer than freshly-squeezed lemon juice. You can also increase the lifespan of either by freezing them. Make sure you check the look, smell and taste to confirm if it is still good or has gone bad.