Even a tiny amount of lemon juice can be such a game changer when you add it to a sauce or a heavy, greasy dish. This is why it’s such a ubiquitous and essential kitchen staple. That said, you can’t always find fresh lemon juice or have the time to squeeze your own. So naturally, a lot of us keep a bottle of lemon juice in our pantries or refrigerators in case we need it. But it’s also easy to completely forget about it because of our hectic daily lives and leave it there for a very long time! What happens when you leave bottled lemon juice? Can it go bad?
If you want to know if the bottled lemon juice that’s been sitting in your pantry for a while is safe to use or not, worry no more. I’ll explain everything you need to know about the shelf-life of bottled lemon juice and the signs of spoilage you need to be careful about because it can definitely go bad!
- 1 The Quick Answer – Does Lemon Juice Go Bad?
- 2 How Long Does Bottled Lemon Juice Last?
- 3 Can Expired Lemon Juice Make You Sick?
- 4 How to Tell if Lemon Juice has Gone Bad
- 5 How to Store Bottled Lemon Juice
- 6 Freezing Lemon Juice
- 7 What Can You Do with Expired Lemon Juice?
The Quick Answer – Does Lemon Juice Go Bad?
So let’s get the bad news out of the way first.
Like any bottled juice, lemon juice will eventually expire. Depending on whether it’s store-bought or freshly squeezed juice, you can keep it for up to 6 months in the fridge.
Read on to get the lowdown on how the type of juice you have impacts its shelflife. Plus, I’ll tell you exactly how to identify spoiled lemon juice.
How Long Does Bottled Lemon Juice Last?
Since lemon juice is very acidic, it doesn’t spoil that easily. Yet that doesn’t mean you should rush to consume a decade-old bottle of lemon juice!
In order to make a well-informed decision, you should be aware of the fact that there are different types of bottled lemon juice and thus, different expiration dates.
Homemade lemon juice and store-bought lemon juice will have different expiration dates.
Homemade vs Store Bought
Most store-bought bottles of lemon juice have a variety of preservatives added to them to prolong their shelf-life. So, they will generally last much longer than their homemade counterpart. This is because homemade lemon juice doesn’t usually contain any preservatives.
It’s important to keep in mind that the number of preservatives in store bought lemon juice will vary depending on the brand.
As a rule of thumb, opened store-bought lemon juice will last 4 to 6 months in the refrigerator whilst freshly squeezed homemade lemon juice will last for about 2 to 3 days in the fridge.
How Long Does Lemon Juice Last at Room Temperature?
An unopened bottle of store bought lemon juice can last for up to 18 months. Before opening, you don’t need to keep it in the fridge and can store the lemon juice bottle at room temperature. Once opened, you should ideally keep it refrigerated to ensure that it stays at best quality.
However, you shouldn’t store a lemon juice bottle in direct sunlight. Instead, you should keep it in a cooler, dark place such as your kitchen cupboards or pantry.
Does Lemon Juice Go Bad if Left Out Overnight?
So you’ve poured yourself a glass of lemon juice and forgot about it. Is it still safe to drink unrefrigerated lemon juice if you’ve left it out overnight?
If it’s homemade fresh juice, you should consider discarding it – hard as that may be. There’s just too great a risk that bacterial growth may have started, increasing the risk of food poisoning.
On the other hand, if its store bought lemon juice you shouldn’t need to worry. This is because of the preservatives I’ve mentioned earlier.
Before drinking, just give it a quick sniff and check for any of the signs of spoiled lemon juice below. If all looks good, go ahead an enjoy!
Can Expired Lemon Juice Make You Sick?
Like any other expired food, spoiled lemon juice can definitely make you sick.The citric acid in lemon juice may be a natural preservative, but that doesn’t necessarily ensure a bacteria-free environment if you store it improperly or too long.
You can still get food poisoning from expired lemon juice that may have bacterial or viral growth or other toxins that may naturally occur in it. If you consume expired lemon juice, it may take a few hours to a couple of days until the symptoms begin. These will commonly be food poisoning symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, inflammation and such.
So, you should always be careful about how you store it, its shelf life, and the expiration date on the bottle. If you experience any of those symptoms after drinking a suspicious-looking lemon juice, you should immediately seek medical supervision.
How to Tell if Lemon Juice has Gone Bad
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to identify an expired bottle of lemon juice as there are loads of clues and signs of spoilage to look for. Keep in mind that homemade, preservative-free lemon juice will go bad much faster than the store-bought kind.
If your bottle of lemon juice has been sitting around for a long time and you suspect it may have gone bad, be wary of these common signs:
Spoiled lemon juice will have a darker color than when you first bought or made it. If this is the case with your lemon juice, you should immediately discard it.
If you suspect it may have gone bad but doesn’t have a darker color, then you should do a smell check.
Spoiled lemon juice won’t have the fresh lemon scent you’re familiar with. It may even smell funky and sour if there is any mold or bacterial growth. If this is the case, throw it out.
Taste and Flavor
Another telltale sign of spoiled bottled lemon juice is the taste. It may be sourer than it usually was, have an unfamiliar or funky taste, or can even become tasteless.
All of these criteria depend on what caused it to go bad, whether it is bacteria or mold growth and such.
If you couldn’t figure out by appearance or smell, take a very little sip and taste if there are any of the signs I have mentioned above, and if there are, immediately discard that lemon juice.
How to Store Bottled Lemon Juice
Similar to many store-bought items with a long shelf life, you should store your store-bought unopened bottle of lemon juice in a dark, cool and dry place, ideally in your pantry or a cupboard away from sunlight if it’s a transparent bottle.
After you open the bottle, it should be stored in the refrigerator. Keep in mind that the longer it sits in your refrigerator, the more it will lose its flavor and degrade in quality.
In terms of homemade fresh lemon juice or store-bought fresh lemon juice that has little to no preservatives, they should be transferred to the refrigerator immediately and consumed in 2 to 3 days.
Just like the store-bought kind, fresh lemon juice will degrade in quality over time. So, it’s best to consume any kind of lemon juice as soon as possible if you don’t want to waste any of its nutrients.
Freezing Lemon Juice
Keeping a constant flow of freshly squeezed lemon juice can be an inconvenience. To remedy this, you can always freeze any extra lemon juice if you don’t need to consume it right away and want to prolong its shelf-life.
Bottles and Jars
You can use a bottle or a glass jar to store your lemon juice in the freezer for up to 3 months. That way, you’ll be preventing quick degradation and protecting its nutrients as well.
Ice Cube Trays/Ice Molds
Another great method of freezing lemon juice is an ice tray or an ice mold. It’s so convenient to be able to just pop one or two cubes of lemon juice out and put in a cold drink during a blistering hot summer day.
Aside from that, you can thaw and add them to a recipe that calls for a little amount of lemon juice. It’s a good tip to measure one cube of lemon juice so that you know exactly how much you will need for a recipe or a drink.
Want to use the ice tray mold for other things after making your frozen lemon juice cubes? Not a problem – just pop the cubes out and transfer them into a freezer bag. Make a note of the date on the bag so you know how long they’ve been frozen.
What Can You Do with Expired Lemon Juice?
You shouldn’t be alarmed if your lemon juice is expired, because you can always re-purpose it around your house as a cleaning and disinfecting product.
Also, you’ll be minimizing waste, which is always a huge plus during our current unconscious consumption and waste problem. Here is how you can re-purpose your expired lemon juice:
You can transfer the lemon juice into a spray bottle with equal amounts of water and use it as a make-shift cleaning product. Similarly, you can heat up some lemon juice and water in a microwaveable container for 30-60 seconds in the microwave, let the steam sit in there for 3-5 minutes, and then wipe the interior of your microwave with a sponge or paper towels.
Lemon juice is very rich in alkaloid compounds and acidity, which makes it antibacterial. You can take advantage of this quality and use your expired lemon juice to kill the bacteria that remain in the nooks and crannies of cutting boards, oven stones, and wooden kitchenware. Simply coat the area with your expired lemon juice after washing, let it sit for 5-10 minutes and rinse with hot water before drying.
Another great way to utilize expired lemon juice is as a polisher. You can lightly wet a sponge with your expired lemon juice and wipe the inside and outside of your old aluminum pans and pots to make them shiny and as good as new again. Make sure to buff with a soft towel afterwards, and do not rinse.