When it comes to refreshing drinks, nothing beats freshly squeezed lemonade.
And for days when you’re out and about, a bottled lemonade at the store will be enough to quench your thirst.
As if its refreshing taste is not enough, some people claim that the acidity of the lemon juice makes it resistant to spoilage. But, how accurate can this rumor be?
Does lemonade go bad? Does lemonade need to be refrigerated? and How long does lemonade last?
Read this article to find out!
Does Lemonade Go Bad?
The rumor about lemon water not going bad seems logical, especially since this drink is high in citric acid, which is a natural preservative. (*)
Unfortunately, that rumor isn’t true. Lemonade does go bad—no matter how acidic it is.
Higher temperatures can hasten the deterioration of the juice. Because of this, it won’t even last a day when stored at room temperature. Therefore, you must learn how to keep your lemonade correctly stored if you want to extend its shelf life.
How Long Does Lemonade Last?
The shelf life of lemonade will depend on two things:
- The type of lemonade (fresh lemon juice, store-bought refrigerated, and store-bought unrefrigerated)
- And its storage conditions (stored at room temperature, refrigerated lemon juice, and frozen lemon juice).
Bottled lemonade lasts longer than freshly squeezed lemon juice as a rule of thumb. This is because bottled lemon juice contains more preservatives than homemade lemonade.
Additionally, the shelf life of an unopened bottle of lemon juice is longer than an opened lemon juice.
Lastly, unrefrigerated lemon juice will deteriorate faster than refrigerated lemon juice.
To sum it up, here are the simple shelf life guidelines that you need to know:
1. Homemade Lemon Juice
Since it contains little to no preservatives, this has the shortest shelf life of them all.
|Fresh Lemon Juice||Room Temperature||Refrigerator||Freezer|
|Shelf Life||<24 hours||1 week||2-3 months|
- Pantry: <24 hours
- Refrigerator: 1 week
- Freezer: 2-3 months
2. Store-Bought Refrigerated Lemon Juice (Unopened or Opened Lemonade)
This type contains a small number of preservatives, lasting a bit longer than homemade lemonade.
- Refrigerator: 1 week
- Freezer: 7 to 10 days
3. Store-Bought Refrigerated Lemon Juice
Lemonades stored at room temperature at groceries last the longest because these contain a high amount of preservatives. Additionally, the manufacturers remove around 90% of water in the formulation to prevent bacterial growth.
- Pantry: Expiration dates + 3 to 6months (unopened lemonade)
- Refrigerator: 6 to 12 months (opened lemonade)
How To tell If Lemonade Is Bad?
For the store-bought juices, it’s always best that you pay attention to their expiration dates. However, it’s generally safe to consume the juices a few months past the expiration dates when stored correctly.
But, of course, this is only if there are no signs of spoilage. That’s why you should always be on the lookout for spoilage signs which are as follows:
1. Flavor Changes
Over time, the lemonade will lose flavor. Years past the best by date, the lemonade’s flavor starts to fade. It will still be safe for consumption by then, but the experience won’t be as enjoyable.
But if the lemonade already tastes sour, discard it right away as it’s one of the biggest signs of spoilage.
2. Changes in Appearance
Spoilage signs of lemonade include obvious mold or chunks at the surface of the juice or powder. As time goes by, lemonade develops darker color too.
3. Off Odor
If, upon opening, you noticed an unnaturally sour scent from your lemonade, throw it out immediately.
How to Properly Store Lemonade
If you want to extend the shelf life of your lemonade, you need to keep it properly stored. Here are some of the tips on how to do that:
A. Storing Fresh Squeezed Lemonade
1. Store in the refrigerator.
Homemade lemonades need to be refrigerated, so make sure that it will be continuously refrigerated and won’t be left at room temperature for a long time.
2. Place it in a dark bottle.
Exposure to light puts the juice at risk of oxidation, leading to rancidity and spoilage. To avoid this, make sure to place the liquid in a dark-colored bottle. If you don’t have any, another option is to wrap a paper around the bottle.
3. Freeze lemon juice in ice cube trays.
Pour lemon water into an ice cube tray and place it in the freezer. Once the lemon juice cubes are already frozen, you can transfer them to a resealable freezer bag and return them to your freezer.
B. Storing Bottle Lemonade
1. Store unopened bottles of lemon juice in a cold and dark place.
For best results, store bottled juices in your pantry, unheated shelf, or kitchen cupboard—far away from heat sources like stove or oven.
2. Store opened lemonade in the fridge.
Opened lemonade must be continuously refrigerated. Make sure that the bottle is tightly sealed to prevent spillage and oxidation.
Learn more: Your Common Food Ingredient’s Shelf Life – A Comprehensive Guide By Groups
Frequently Asked Questions
The Bottom Line
Contrary to popular belief, lemonade bottles can go bad—no matter how acidic they are. This is especially true for freshly squeezed and homemade lemon juices, which contain no preservatives.
But whether you’re using homemade or store-bought lemon juice, you must ensure that these are stored correctly so you can enjoy it for an extended period. You can do this by following all of the storage tips we’ve shared with you in this article.