Does lemon juice go bad? Lemon juice is a useful ingredient added in various dishes and recipes. Even when used in small amounts, it can add great flavor to your dishes. Also, it has been noted as an effective part of many weight loss plans.
Some people like to purchase lemon juice from the local stores in bulk, as it is considered a staple item in many households. However, there are others who enjoy squeezing fresh lemons and extracting its juice for their consumption.
But, what do you do with extra lemon juice? Likewise, you may also be asking yourself – does lemon juice go bad?
Proper Storing Technique for Lemon Juice
Unfortunately, lemon juice can go bad, especially when it is not handled and stored properly.
If you are thinking of purchasing lemon juice in bulk, you should learn how it is properly stored. Here are some important notes to consider when storing this type of juice.
How to Store Fresh Lemon Juice
Fresh lemon juice offers the best taste. In handling fresh juice, you should immediately store it in the fridge right after extraction if you are not going to use it yet.
The flavor of the juice will not be altered for about two to four days. After this period, it will gradually lose its flavor.
Even though the fresh lemon juice is acidic, it still does not contain any preservatives. Thus, its taste will only last for about a week and a half.
If you intend to keep it for a longer time, you may want to consider freezing or preservatives. Since using preservatives is not healthy, you can choose to freeze it instead.
Proper Handling and Storing Bottled Lemon Juice
Commercially available or bottled lemon juice already comes with preservatives that extend its shelf life. Because of this, this type of lemon juice can be stored for a long time without compromising its flavor.
When using bottled juice, you should always check its label and look for the best before the date indicated on the container.
This time does not mean that it will go bad after the mentioned date. Instead, the date means that the taste, as well as the quality of the juice, should be okay up to that date. After the indicated period, it will gradually lose its flavor.
When storing unopened bottled juice, you may keep it in the pantry as refrigerating it is not necessary. However, if it has already been opened, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to six months.
Freezing Lemon Juice – Is It Possible?
To extend the shelf life of fresh or bottled juice, you may freeze it. It is not advisable, however, that you store the entire bottle because if you need to use it, you will need to thaw the entire bottle.
Once thawed, it is not recommended that you freeze it back again.
To remedy this problem, you can freeze juice using freezer bags or an ice cube tray instead of the entire bottle. This way, you can thaw the juice in manageable quantities.
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When it is stored in the freezer, it can last for another three to five months.
Determining the Shelf Life of Fresh and Bottled Lemon Juice
Fresh lemon juice does not last as long as the bottled ones. However, it does taste better and can be stored in the fridge using the right methods to extend its shelf life.
Refrigerated fresh juice can last up to a week before it will start to lose its flavor and overall quality. However, freezing fresh lemon juice can extend its shelf life up to three to six months.
On the other hand, bottled juice already contains preservatives. Thus, it can last up to a few months without spoiling. In fact, it can last up to 12 to 18 months if unopened and stored properly in the pantry.
How to Determine Spoiled Lemon Juice
The first thing that you need to note when identifying spoiled lemon juice is that it should be stored either in the freezer or the fridge unless it is unopened.
When placed at room temperature, it can become contaminated, especially when you are handling the fresh juice. If you have left the juice at room temperature for quite some time or that you are in doubt about its quality, you should discard it. You should never attempt to taste or consume it because drinking spoiled lemon juice can cause food poisoning.
When checking for spoiled juice, you should look for any changes in smell, color, or taste. If it has a darker color or it does not have any citrus taste and smell, it has probably gone bad.
If you notice any leaks or bulging caps on unopened bottled juice, you should discard it, as it may already have gone bad. You should never attempt to consume it even with small portions of the juice.
The Bottom Line
Like any other types of juices, lemon juice can go bad. However, there are various ways on how you can extend its shelf life.
With proper handling and storage, you can make use of extra lemon juice for a longer period.
Both fresh and bottled juices should be refrigerated once opened. Bottled ones can be stored in the pantry away from direct sources of light and heat and considering it has not been opened yet.
Freezing lemon juice is also an option. However, this must be done using ice cube tray or small freezer bags. This way, you can thaw the amount you will need and not the entire bottle of juice. Once thawed, it not advisable to freeze it again.
Now that you know the answer to the question – does lemon juice go bad? You can store your extra lemon juice properly so you can use it later for your other recipes.
Jen Lin-Liu is the founder of Black Sesame Kitchen. A Chinese-American writer and a nationally certified Chinese chef in Beijing. Jen is the author of two memoirs, Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China and On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta.