How Long Do Lemons Last? Answered (2023)

A fresh lemon’s scent can energize you after an exhausting day. Not only are they rich in antioxidants, but they are refreshing as well. With lemons being the in-season fruit, you might want to store them while you can. 

But how long do lemons last?

A whole lemon will last about a week when left on the countertop. Storing the lemons in the pantry can make them last for 7-11 days. Refrigerating lemons will keep them fresh for 3-4 weeks. A half-cut lemon will last a day or two on the kitchen top. Storing them in the fridge can make a half-cut lemon last for 2-3 days when stored properly.

Every fruit can go bad if you leave them for a long time. And lemons are no exception. But because lemon is a natural preservative with a thicker rind, it tends to last longer.

But what is the correct way of storing lemons? 

Let us read further to know all there is about lemons.

How long do lemons last before they go bad?

Well, it’s lemon season, and you might have bought lemons in bulk. And before you realize it, half of them are rotten and useless.

A common factor affecting a lemon’s life is how you store it. Leaving them on your kitchen counter will make the lemons last up to a week. But they might last for a few days if the weather is hot. 

ripe lemons with yellow texture

Planning to store lemons for a long time? To give the lemons a long life, store them in cooler areas and away from heat. This will make the lemons last about 14-16 days. Still, have lemons left and don’t know what to do? The best option is to refrigerate them. Storing them in the fridge will make them last for months and more. 

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As compared to full lemons, half-cut ones have a different shelf life. A half-cut lemon gets exposed to the air and moisture and can rot faster. Leaving a half-cut lemon on the kitchen top will make it rot in a day or two. But storing the half-cut lemons in the fridge can make them last for a few days (or a week). Make sure to store the half-cut lemon covered in a wrap or an airtight container.

How to store lemons?

If you know how to store lemons correctly, you can keep them fresh for a long time. Avoid leaving them on the kitchen top if you live in a humid or hot place. The heat can make the lemons rot at a quicker pace. So, how to store lemons? Read further to know more.

1. Whole lemons

Many of you might leave the lemons on the counter as soon as you buy them. Although it is a good idea, heat and air exposure can significantly reduce their shelf-life. Leaving the lemons in your pantry is a good way to store lemons. But it will only make them last for a week or two before they go bad. So unless you want to consume them in a week, don’t leave them on the counter. But storing the lemons in the fridge is a good option if you want to make them last for a month. Ensure you put the lemons in an airtight container, away from moisture and air. This will make your lemons last for a good 5-6 weeks.

2. Half-cut lemons

cutting lemons with knife

Half-cut lemons have half the shelf-life as compared to whole lemons. It is because half-cut lemons get exposed to air, making them dry. This makes the lemons at room temperature rot a lot faster. To extend their shelf-life, you must store them in the fridge. While refrigerating the lemons, do not put them directly in the fridge. Store the lemons in a ziplock bag to extend their shelf life. You can also store them in the crisper drawer of your fridge. This will seal in the moisture and prevent the lemons from dehydrating.

If you have less fridge storage, you can plastic wrap the lemons and store them. Wrapping them with plastic wrap works well for wedges and sliced lemons. You can also grow lemons in a container at your home.

Can you freeze lemons?

Yes. Freezing lemons is also an option if you want to store them for a long time. While it is easier to freeze whole lemons, sliced or lemon wedges must be stored differently. To freeze whole lemons, put them in a ziplock bag and put the bag in the freezer. You must defrost it at room temperature to use the frozen lemon. After defrosting, it might not retain its original texture and appear mushy. The texture changes due to the freezing and thawing of the lemon. However, it is safe to use.

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The freezing process for sliced lemons/ wedges is slightly different. You must remove the seeds to freeze the sliced lemons or wedges. On a baking sheet, spread the slices in an even layer. Flash-freeze the slices for an hour or until they’re solid. Once done, seal the wedges/slices in a freezer bag. This will keep the slices fresh for 3-4 months. 

How to Tell if a Lemon Is Bad?

To know if a lemon is bad, look for the following signs:

1. There’s visible mold

If you see mold appearing on the lemons, it is time to throw them away. A half-cut lemon can easily show signs of mold when exposed for a long time. However, if the rind is heavily bruised, mold can cover the entire area.

2. Its texture is soft, shriveled, or slimy

texture of lemon

Many people consume a lemon if it’s a little mushy. But discard it if it is too mushy or shriveled for your taste. If the lemon starts to leak, it is a clear sign to toss it away.

3. The rind is heavily bruised or discolored 

A rind displays all sorts of imperfections, and a little imperfection is okay. But if the rind has a dark brown or greenish tint, you must throw it away.

4. It smells funny

A bad smell is a shout-out sign of a bad beverage, vegetable, or fruit. So, if your fruit no longer has a zesty aroma and instead smells pungent, throw it away.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. How do you know when a lemon is bad?

Ans. Fresh lemon is firm and light yellow with a zesty smell. But toss them away if you see them turning mushy or displaying signs of discoloration. The appearance of mold and an awful smell also indicate a lemon gone bad.

Q2. Do lemons expire in the fridge?

Ans. Storing lemons in the refrigerator does not guarantee they last forever. However, refrigerating them can significantly extend their shelf life by up to a week.

Q3. How do you store lemons for 3 months?

Ans. Freezing lemons is ideal if you want to store them for months. Before freezing, seal them in an airtight container or store them in a ziplock bag. This will prevent the lemons from dehydrating.

Q4. Where do lemons last the longest?

Ans. If you want the lemons to last longer, refrigerating them is ideal. Refrigerating the lemons is also beneficial if you want to extend their shelf life.

Q5. Is it OK to use old lemons?

Ans. Lemons are one of those fruits that come with an extended shelf life. Before lemons go completely bad, they start to show signs of spoilage. You can use an old lemon if you like them to be a little mushy. But, if the lemon is shriveled or too mushy for your taste, toss it away.

The Bottom Line

Now that you know how to store lemons, it is time to keep them safe. Refrigerating is always the right option, whether it is a cut lemon or whole. If you want to store them for months, freezing them is the way. Unless you can consume the lemons in a week, do not leave them on the kitchen counter. With so many options to store the lemons, you can now stock them up to your heart’s desire.

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Melissa Baker

Melissa Baker

I am a food lover and the founder of FoodQueries. I have years of experience when it comes to food. I have been cooking since childhood and I know a thing or two about storing, cooking and freezing food in the right way.