If you search “lime” in Wikipedia, you’ll find a surprising number of entries that are in no way related to the citrus fruit, ranging from a Korean singer, to a town in Oregon, to an Asian lifestyle magazine. However, I imagine you’re here to learn about the citrus fruit that can be used to accompany a shot of tequila or to make a tangy Key lime pie!
If you’ve found your way to this page I imagine that you’ve either had a bumper harvest from your lime tree, or found them on sale and bought a whole bunch. Perhaps you’re wondering how to ensure your limes stay fresh for a long time. Can you freeze whole limes? Good news, you can!
Read on to learn everything you’ll ever need to know about freezing limes so that their flavor holds for as long as possible.
Can Whole Limes be Frozen?
Yes, whole limes can be frozen! This goes for other citrus fruits as well. Fresh lemon also freezes really well.
So, if you happen to come across a super sale on limes (or lemons), go ahead and buy them!
Since you can freeze whole limes rather easily and with little to no negative effect on them, you don’t have to worry about them going to waste.
Freezing limes whole is not only easier – as it doesn’t require any cutting – it’s also the best way for the lime to retain its quality longer.
How Does Freezing Affect Limes?
If you freeze whole limes, freezing doesn’t impact them much. The thick skin of the lime protects the inner lime juice. And, the exterior peel of the lime isn’t negatively impacted either.
If you plan on zesting the limes for a pie or for another recipe, don’t worry. You can easily use the zest of lime after it’s been frozen and then you can even pop the lime back into the freezer after you zest it so you can use the lime juice later.
So, in short, you can use frozen whole limes just as you would use fresh limes.
How Long Do Limes Last in the Freezer?
While whole limes do freeze very well, they aren’t invincible.
For the best quality, limes last about one year in the freezer. After this point, they will still be safe to eat, as there won’t be any bacteria growth causing them to go bad, but, the taste and usability of the juice and zest may start to degrade.
For the best results, make sure the limes are kept in an airtight container and don’t come into touch with any moisture or air.
Keep in mind that after three months, the lime zest and peel will begin to dry out. It will still be good to use after this period, but the zest may not have as much taste as you would want.
How to Freeze Limes
The condition of the limes before freezing will determine how long they can be frozen. Is it entire limes, lime wedges, zest, or juice that you’re freezing? Here I will only discuss how to freeze whole limes and sliced limes, however.
Freezing Whole Limes
- First, remove any wax coating on the limes by thoroughly washing them. Remove any dirt or coatings, wash the limes with cold water or with a vegetable wash. This is more important if the lime is not organic, as there may be pesticide residue left on it, which should be removed.
- After you’ve cleaned the limes, softly wipe them dry with a paper towel.
- Fill a heavy-duty freezer bag halfway with limes, squeeze out all of the air, and seal securely. Make sure to get as much air out of the bag as possible, since air exposure will kill the taste and dehydrate the bag. This is why you should also close the bag securely.
- Label the bag of limes with the date and then place it in the freezer.
Freezing whole limes is actually the best way. You don’t have to slice the limes first, flash-freeze them, and then pick them up one by one to place them in a freezer bag.
Washing limes whole, patting them dry, and then popping them into a plastic freezer bag, eliminating all the air before closing it tight is an easy operation. Another advantage of freezing limes whole is that you don’t have to defrost or thaw them if you just need some zest for a pie.
Freezing Sliced Limes
If you’re freezing sliced limes you’ll have to do a bit more prep work at the beginning.
- First, the limes should be cut into wedges or thin slices. The wedges should be no bigger than 14 of the lime, and the slices should be around a quarter-inch thick.
- Place the slices or wedges on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Arrange them peel-side down to make them simpler to remove when frozen.
- Pop the tray in the freezer and leave it there until the lime chunks are solidly frozen.
- Pick up the frozen lime slices and place them in a freezer bag.
- Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing it. Keeping the lime slices fresh and protected by removing the air prevents freezer burn.
- Label the freezer bag with the date it was frozen and the contents’ name so you know when to use it and can quickly identify the lime slices in the freezer.
How to Thaw Frozen Limes
While freezing a whole lime is easy, thawing them is even easier.
You can quickly defrost a whole lime by microwaving it on the defrost setting for 10-second increments until it’s defrosted.
You can also defrost the frozen fruit by running it under or soaking it in warm water. This takes a little longer but works just as well.
And lastly, you can place the lime or limes in the fridge for a few hours or overnight and allow it to defrost. This takes the longest but it’s the most hands-off method.
Can You Refreeze Limes?
While it’s safe to refreeze limes, they might become increasingly dry if you refreeze them after they have been fully defrosted.
However, if you take one lime out only to quickly zest it, you can put the lime back into the freezer.
Other Ways to Store Whole Limes
Other packaging alternatives for freezing limes exist, but they are not as practical or space-saving as a plastic freezer bag.
You might use a freezer container, but it will not store very many limes and will take up a lot of freezer space.
Another method is to individually wrap the limes in layers of plastic wrap and aluminum foil, but this takes time and is a waste when the limes may be placed in one freezer bag.
How Long Do Limes Last in the Fridge?
When they are kept in the fridge, whole limes will typically last between one and two months.
However, if they are sliced then they should be used almost immediately as limes (and other citrus fruits) will quickly dry out if they’ve been sliced open.
How Long Do Limes Last at Room Temperature?
If you like to keep your limes on the counter in a fruit bowl then you can expect them to last about one month. But this can depend on the limes themselves.
I have had individual limes in a bundle go bad rather quickly, while others lasted much longer. Be sure to throw away any limes that start to go bad.
How Can You Tell if Limes Have Gone Bad?
It’s quite easy to tell if a lime has gone bad just by sight, feel, and smell. If it’s moldy or it starts to turn brown, it’s obviously bad. Also, if it’s dried out or has an off smell, it’s likely bad and should be discarded.