Lemon juice is prized for adding acid and citrus to many recipes and should be a staple in your kitchen. It can be used in everything from a savory dinner marinade to sweet desserts baked for the entire family.
But what if your lemon juice is past the expiration date? Is it safe to use? Does lemon juice and lemon juice concentrate go bad?
You will find the answers to all your questions in this article so you know if your old bottle of lemon juice is safe to consume and if it’s time to get a new jug.
We will cover fresh squeezed lemon juice, premade lemon juice, as well as lemon juice concentrate.
Let’s get right to it!
How To Tell When Lemon Juice Goes Bad
Lemon juice offers a long shelf life and when stored properly will likely be used up before it goes bad. But what happens when you find a bottle of lemon juice you completely forgot about and need to know if it’s safe to use?
Lemon juice can spoil and there are a number of factors that contribute to how quickly that happens.
Your first clue will be the best by date on your bottle. While that date does NOT mean it has spoiled as soon as the date has come and gone, it is a good indication of how old your lemon juice is.
Time and storage conditions are the two primary factors that dictate if your lemon juice has gone bad or not.
The more recent your lemon juice was squeezed as well as proper storage ups the chances that your lemon juice is still good considerably.
This goes for fresh squeezed lemon juice as well as bottled or even lemon juice concentrate.
Related: Substitute for Lemon Extract
Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice Shelf Life
Who doesn’t love a glass of ice cold lemon juice? Or maybe you are adding fresh squeezed juice to up the flavor of your recipe. No matter why you made fresh squeezed lemon juice, it is important to know how long it will stay good so you don’t waste any.
When stored in the refrigerator, fresh lemon juice will last up to 4 days. If frozen, fresh lemon juice will last up to 1 month.
Store Bought Lemon Juice Shelf Life
Most store bought lemon juice comes with a “best by” date. This date is not an expiration date, but is instead the manufacturers recommended use date for maximum flavor.
When properly sealed and stored, refrigerated store bought lemon juice will remain good for a week or two past the “best by” date.
But lemon juice can also be found in unrefrigerated form as well. This type of store bought lemon juice offers a longer shelf life and will remain good for up to 1 year when unopened, and up to 6 months after being opened.
Related: Orange Juice Substitutes
Lemon Juice Concentrate Shelf Life
Frozen, unopened lemon juice concentrate has a long shelf life. The “best by” date is yet again, a manufacturers recommendation for retaining the best flavor. Properly frozen concentrate can be used for up to 2 months after the “best by” date.
Lemon juice concentrate that comes refrigerated or even room temperature has a shorter shelf life and can generally be used up to 1 week past the “best by” date.
Prepared lemon juice made from frozen concentrate will stay good in the refrigerator for 1 week. While it can be frozen after being prepared, I have found lemon juice from frozen concentrate does not retain as much flavor when refrozen so I recommend using it up within a week to avoid needing to refreeze it.
Signs Lemon Juice Has Gone Bad
If you are still unsure if your lemon juice is safe to consume or add to a recipe then there are a handful of things to check that will tell you if your lemon juice has gone bad.
Check How it Smells
When lemon juice spoils it is because bad bacteria has taken up residence and this lead to the smell changing.
Good lemon juice will smell of citrus with hints of sweet while bad lemon juice will smell stronger and tangier.
Look at the Color
When lemon juice is fresh it has a light yellow color but when it goes bad, lemon juice takes on a much darker color.
Bad lemon juice will also be much cloudier than fresh so pour some into a glass and check to see if your lemon juice is still good.
Do a Mold Check
When bacteria begins to grow in your lemon juice it can grown to the point there is visible mold.
If you see any signs of mold in your lemon juice you know it is no longer safe to use.
If your lemon juice is the right color and there are no signs of mold but you are still unsure if it is safe to use, do a taste test.
Just a small sip will let you know for sure if your lemon juice is good to go. If it tastes like you expect then your lemon juice is good, but if you pick up any hint of rancid flavor then your lemon juice should not be used.
Lemon Juice FAQ
How do you store lemon juice?
If you only need to store your lemon juice for a short amount of time the best method is in the refrigerator. Seal in it’s original container or a juice pitcher and it will last in your fridge for 1 to 2 weeks.
If you must store your lemon juice for longer you can freeze it. The easiest method is to pour your lemon juice in ice trays and place in the back of your freezer.
Fresh lemon juice will last in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Can you can lemon juice?
Yes you can! Canned lemon juice offers you a longer shelf life than refrigeration or freezing. Canned lemon juice will last for up to 2 years.
What happens if you drink spoiled lemon juice?
Like with any spoiled food item, food borne illness is a risk when consuming expired lemon juice.
Bacteria and mold can grow in lemon juice and consuming it can lead to food poisoning. If you are concerned you have consumed expired lemon juice contact poison control or your physician.
Can lemon juice be frozen?
Yes, lemon juice can be frozen. You can freeze lemon juice for up to 1 month. The easiest method for freezing lemon juice is to pour it into ice cube trays and place them in the back of your freezer until you need to use them.
How long does lemon juice keep in the fridge?
Fresh squeezed lemon juice will last up to 4 days when stored in the refrigerator. Store bought lemon juice contains preservatives that increases it’s refrigerator shelf life to up to 2 weeks or more.
Can old lemon juice make you sick?
That depends on what you mean by “old”. Spoiled lemon juice contains mold or bacteria that can make you sick. But some forms of lemon juice have a long shelf life and even though it may be “old” it is still perfectly safe to consume. Read above for more details on how to tell if your lemon juice is safe to consume.
Does lemon juice go bad if not refrigerated?
Fresh squeezed and opened store bought lemon juice should be stored in the refrigerator (or freezer). Leaving it at room temperature for extended periods of time can accelerate mold or bacteria growth which will make your lemon juice unsafe to consume.
Does fresh lemon juice go bad?
Yes. Fresh lemon juice does not contain preservatives like most store bought varieties and therefore has a shorter shelf life. Fresh squeezed lemon juice has a shelf life, when stored in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days.
How long does lemon juice last at room temperature?
The FDA recommends that juice be left at room temperature for no more than 2 hours.