Does Lemon Juice Go Bad?

We are not going to underestimate your intelligence. You know what lemon juice is. It is the juice of a lemon.  

Used all over the world for flavouring food and drinks, it is now regularly sold in those tiny little squeezy bottles that you see at the supermarket. The ones shaped like little lemons. You might even have one of them in your cupboard right now.

But you are here for a reason. ‘Does lemon juice go bad?’ You are asking yourself. Well, the answer is slightly more complicated than you might think.

Does lemon juice expire?

Short answer. Yes.

Long answer. Are you using a fresh lemon juice or a bottled lemon juice?

Fresh lemon juice

Fresh lemon juice is easy to make and tastes amazing. The only drawback, though, is that it doesn’t last long at all.

Fresh lemon juice will last around 2-4 days before it starts to taste worse. You are only looking at around a week total before you’ve got a bunch of expired lemon juice on your hands.

There are a couple of ways to store lemon juice to make it last longer. We will get into those methods later.

How to know when lemon juice is expired

There are a few easy ways to know whether your lemon juice has gone bad. Look for colour, smell and taste.

Colour: Lemon juice should be relatively clear, with a consistent colour all the way through. If it seems cloudy, or the colour is darker than expected, it might be going off.

Smell: We all know the fresh scent of lemon. If it doesn’t smell as fresh as it did, then it might be going off.

Taste: Lemon juice starts to lose its flavour a couple of days before it goes off. So if it doesn’t taste as strongly, or it tastes bad, then it is probably off.

How to store fresh lemon juice to keep it fresher longer

There are two ways to help keep your lemon juice fresh for longer. Refrigeration, and freezing.

Putting your lemon juice in a container and placing it in the fridge will extend its lifespan by several days. After a week or so, though, it will still start to go bad, so don’t look at this as a foolproof method.  

Freezing fresh lemon juice is entirely possible, but tends to lead to a watery, flavourless juice that is all but useless for anything you might want it.

The best lemon juice storage tips

In our opinion, the single best lemon juice storage tip we have is not to store lemon juice.

Sounds ridiculous, but bear with us. Lemon juice lasts a few days, even in the refrigerator. However, lemons can last three or four weeks.

So honestly, if you want some lemon juice, store lemons instead. It takes a minute or two to juice a fresh lemon, and you can have freshly squeezed and beautifully flavoured lemon juice, whenever you need it.  

Bottled lemon juice

Bottled lemon juice is an entirely different animal to fresh juice.

It has preservatives that hugely increase its lifespan. You will typically see a use-by date on every bottle you buy, which makes it much easier to know when it is going off.

You are probably looking at a storage time of months, for bottled lemon juice. If you are particularly frugal, or you need it to last longer, then you can always freeze it. Unlike fresh lemon juice, the bottled stuff is fine to freeze, especially if you make sure it is tightly sealed.

So does lemon juice go bad?

Definitely. But it is much faster for fresh lemon juice than it is for bottled stuff. If you only need it once, you will probably be fine just grabbing a couple of lemons and juicing them yourself.  

But if it is something you use regularly, and you need a decent shelf life so you can be sure it is not going off, then get a bottle of the manufactured stuff. It lasts for ages, and as we said earlier, you can always freeze it to extend the shelf life even longer.

If you’ve got any hints or tips, or even just a favourite use for lemon juice in your house, then make sure you let us know in our comments below. We love hearing from all our readers, so no matter what it is, you can talk to us!