Does Lemon Juice Go Bad or Expire? How To Tell For Sure!

Sure, we can’t drink lemon juice straight up, but this is a useful and beneficial kitchen stable! It’s an addition to beverages or to garnish on dishes, giving more of a zesty flavor.

And because of its high acid content and flavor, it’s only used in small amounts. That said, we heard that the high acidity in lemon juice would prevent it from spoiling. (*)

But it still has many people wonder, does lemon juice go bad?

Yes, what you hear is a myth. Lemon juice does go bad!

But wait, we’ve got more crucial info you need to know. Read on as we delve into the details about storage tips and shelf life of lemon juice to help you out!


Does Lemon Juice Go Bad?

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Yes, lemon juice goes bad over time. The rate it spoils depends on the type of lemon juice you have.

There are two main types of lemon juice: Freshly squeezed and store-bought varieties. The former would spoil quicker compared to the latter.

Store-bought lemon juice contains preservatives, usually sulfites, and is pasteurized to get rid of bacteria. That way, it lasts longer, even when unrefrigerated, as long as it stays unopened.

Another factor to consider is whether you store your lemon juice properly or not. If you store it well, then it will last longer than expected.

Here is the average lemon juice shelf life:

  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice can last for two to three days refrigerated or 1 week when frozen. If unrefrigerated, it won’t last for more than 1 day.
  •  Store-bought lemon juice lasts for 1 week refrigerated and 7-10 days when frozen. (*)
  • Unrefrigerated and unopened store-bought lemon juice lasts for three to six months after its best by date.
  • Refrigerated and unopened store-bought lemon juice last for 6-12 months.

Now, let’s go even deeper and learn about when lemon juice goes bad so you can avoid consuming it.

How to Tell If Lemon Juice is Bad

You might have difficulty telling if lemon juice has gone bad. Most spoiled food would smell and taste acidic, which is what lemon juice tastes like initially!

We help you out with these helpful tips to tell if lemon juice is bad:

1. The Color

Lemon juice would have a watery light-yellow color. When lemon juice spoils, its color will become a dark, cloudy yellow. For lemon juice in opaque bottles, pour it into a glass to check for color changes.

You may notice some white sediment or bits of lemon pulp in lemon juice. If it’s freshly squeezed lemon juice, this is normal, and you just need to shake the bottle before using it.

2. The Smell

Good quality lemon juice would have a soft and pleasant citrusy aroma. If spoiled, bacterial growth occurs, triggering fermentation. As a result, lemon juice will smell even tangier than usual, indicating it has gone bad.

3. Taste It

Take a tiny sip of the lemon juice. It tastes even sourer than usual or bland without the zesty lemon flavor if it’s gone bad.

4. Watch Out for Molds

 Lemon juice would contain water, which is where bacterial growth begins. If you find signs of mold around the packaging or the juice itself, it means the lemon juice is infested with bacteria.

Watch out for traces of yeast or mold. If you see any, dispose of the juice immediately and clean your container thoroughly to prevent mold from spreading around food in your fridge or freezer. 

Don’t stop here! We’ve got more in store for you, literally. Next up, we’ll show you excellent ways to store your juice.

Lemon Juice Storage Tips

Lemon juice appropriately stored will help keep it last even longer than its expiration date. Here are tips to keep your lemon juice from spoilage:

1. Storing lemon juice in refrigerators or freezer

Ensure that you keep your fresh juice in your refrigerator at temperatures between 32-40 degrees F. We suggest storing it in an airtight bottle to preserve its flavor and quality for a few days.

It’s best to store it in smaller jars based on how much you usually need in one sitting. Doing so prevents removing and placing the lemon juice in your refrigerator. The constant and drastic change in temperature would alter the juice’s chemical structure, causing it to spoil quickly.

Besides this, store it in dark bottles or wrap the dark paper around your lemon juice packaging. Light can destroy the quality of lemon juice, so keep it in a dark place at all times.

You can also freeze lemon juice for it to last for a week or so since bacteria and pathogens can’t multiply or regrow in freezing temperatures. You can store lemon juice by freezing it in ice cubes and placing it in a plastic resealable freezer bag. Note that one ice cube is approximately 2 tablespoons, so you’ll know how much you need.

Freezing it in ice cubes than in one container is convenient as it thaws quicker, and you’ll only get how much you need.

2. Storing lemon juice in the pantry

If you have store-bought lemon juice, you can store it in a cool and dry place outside the fridge. Usually, we leave it in the pantry, but you can also keep it in your kitchen cabinet or countertop.

Wherever you plan to leave it, make sure that it stays at constant room temperature. Also, keep your bottled lemon juice away from light and heat sources, like the stove, radiator, or other appliances.

3. Can It!

Besides freezing, consider canning your lemon juice! It has you store large amounts of lemon juice to last for even longer. If you can your lemon juice correctly, you can store it in the pantry for 2 years or so.

Prepare the process with mason jars, a heat source, and a canner. Start by sanitizing your mason jar, either through the dishwasher or putting it in boiling water for 10 minutes, killing bacteria.

Boil lemon juice and pour it into the jars until it reaches the top. Next, seal the mason jars tightly, preventing air from coming out. Seal the jar by pressing bubbles in the center of your lid. If it goes down and up, the air goes in, and you’ll need to use the juice within the week.

When filling your jars, please keep them in a canner with boiling water and cover them. Leave it for 15 minutes and remove the jars, letting it cool. After that, store it in a cool and dry place!

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about lemon juice with these frequently asked questions:

1. What is lemon juice for? 

Lemon juice is high in vitamin C and has many health benefits when you consume it on its own (mixed with sweeteners) or drizzle it on food and drinks. With its high vitamin C content, you can use it to boost your immune system, clear your skin, and even help in weight loss. (*)

However, please take note that it contains citric acid, which may damage your tooth enamel. Drink it sparingly and if you do plan on drinking it, dilute it with water and sweeteners. (*)

2. Does bottled lemon juice last longer?

Yes, bottled lemon juice lasts longer than fresh lemon juice, but it still spoils over time. That’s why you need to store it properly, or spoilage occurs at the same rate as fresh lemon juice, if not shorter.

3. Can I use expired lemon juice?

If you consume spoiled juice, it may cause food poisoning from the bacteria or mold contaminating it. The typical symptoms of food poisoning include stomach pain, headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, weakness, chills, and diarrhea. (*)

Wrapping It Up

Lemon juice’s shelf life isn’t too long if opened, but unopened bottles of lemon juice last even past its expiration date with proper storage. Next time you have lemon juice for food or drinks, consume it at the recommended date and store it well to prevent quick spoilage.

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Up Next: Does Lemonade Go Bad? Does It Need To Be Refrigerated?

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