Lemon is so versatile–it can brighten up a variety of recipes and can offer a bright and zesty flavor to them as well.
They are also used to create decadent desserts and thirst-quenching drinks, particularly during the hot summer days.
Sure, you’ve learned how to use this refreshing fruit, but do you know how long lemons last?
Well, whole lemons that are stored in the fridge can last up to four weeks.
For whole lemons that are kept on the counter, they will last for about a week.
If you cut the lemons and store them in the fridge, you can expect them to last for up to four or five days.
It’s essential to identify the shelf life, especially if you don’t store them properly. You don’t want to waste your beloved lemons, do you?
Wondering what to do with a lot of lemons? Try this Lemon Sorbet Recipe. Keep reading for more tips and links to recipes for what to do with lemons.
Do lemons go bad?
Yes, lemons go bad just like any other fruit. However, you can extend their shelf life through refrigeration.
I experimented with cut lemon wedges to see how long they lasted wrapped in this beeswax wrap and they were moldy in 10 days.
My cut lemon wedges were looking pretty pale and miscolored after five days in the fridge.
I didn’t think to take a picture of their grossness (you’re welcome), but if you want to keep lemons for a long time, keep them whole and only cut them when you are ready to use them.
How to tell when a lemon has gone bad
It’s best to use up your stored lemons before they go bad, but how to tell when the fruit has gone bad? Here are the three easy ways to identify if your lemons have gone bad.
Check its appearance
A good way to tell whether your lemons are still fresh or bad is to use your sense of sight.
Gather all of your stored fruits in the fridge or on the counter. If your lemons have brown mushy spots, white mold, or shriveled, puckered appearance, then consider discarding them immediately as these are indicators of a bad lemon.
The skin can get dark and sunken-looking and I don’t even bother cutting into them. I just toss them in the trash.
Smell the fruit
If you’re still in doubt even after checking their appearance, then you might consider sniffing them.
Rotten lemons feature a moldy, off, or fermented smell. If you happen to have one, discard that lemon!
If it smells bad once you cut into it, toss it.
Feel but not squeeze
Another alternative to telling if your stored lemons are bad is by touching them. Fresh lemons are heavy and firm, however, bad ones tend to be mushy and soft.
If your lemons sink in every time you grip, they’re probably bad.
How long do lemons last
The storage condition and storage methods affect the shelf life of your lemons. It’s advised to keep the fruits away from direct sunlight as this can affect the quality of the fruit.
Moreover, if you happen to have cut lemons, then the best thing to do is keep them fresh in the fridge. Consume them within days for safe consumption.
- Whole lemon kept on the counter – seven days
- Whole lemon stored in the fridge – four weeks
- Cut lemon stored in the fridge – four days
How to store whole lemons in the fridge
If you want to extend the shelf life of your newly bought lemons, then keeping them in the fridge is the best thing to do. Here’s how to do it:
- Place the lemons in a zipper bag or airtight container.
- Squeeze as much air out as you can.
- Store them in the fridge at 39 to 50ºF.
How to store whole lemons on the counter
In case you’re planning to use the lemons within a few days, store them on your counter.
Here’s how to store whole lemons on the counter:
- Place the lemon inside a fruit basket. (I have one like this. It holds a lot.)
- Keep them away from direct sunlight to retain their freshness.
This easy Lemon Aioli Sauce recipe goes great with everything.
How to store cut lemons in the fridge
If you’re cutting lemons for a recipe and have leftovers, definitely store them in the refrigerator.
Here’s how to store cut lemons in the fridge:
- Place the cut lemons in an airtight container or zipper bag.
- If you’re using a zipper bag, squeeze as much air out as you can.
- Refrigerate and store them at around 39 to 50ºF.
Note: I tried a beeswax wrapper and my cut lemon wedges were looking and smelling pale and discolored at five days, and were visibly moldy in 10 days. I don’t blame the wrapper, but I think it’s just the life of cut fruit.
Should I store lemons in the refrigerator?
We’ve noticed a longer life of whole lemons in the refrigerator compared to sitting out in the open air.
It’s your choice whether you store your lemons in the refrigerator or not. However, if you want to keep the fresh quality of the fruit for a longer time, then refrigeration is your key.
If you cut lemons and won’t be using the entire fruit, then you should consider keeping them in the refrigerator to prevent them from going rancid.
Check them before using, and I’d recommend no more than five days.
Here’s where to find out how much juice is in a lemon.
How to make lemons last longer?
As mentioned, the storage condition and storage methods play an important role in preserving fresh lemons.
So if you store your newly-bought lemons in the fridge right away, you’ll probably enjoy the whole, uncut fruit for up to two to four weeks, or more.
Bright, nicely firm fruits that don’t have dark spots or sunken areas should still be good to use.
The bottom line
Lemons and other fruits don’t come with expiration dates.
Part of navigating your way around the kitchen is to learn how to identify whether your lemons are still fresh or already bad.
Need some ideas for what to do with all of those fresh lemons? 19 Lemon Dessert Recipes should help!
Trust your senses. If you find red flags such as mushy spots, white mold, off smell, mushy, and soft texture in your lemon, it’s time to let go of that fruit!
- Cut lemons
- Airtight container, zipper bag or beeswax wrap
- Place the cut lemons in an airtight container, zipper bag, or beeswax wrap.
- If you're using a zipper bag, squeeze as much air out as you can.
- Refrigerate and store them at around 39 to 50ºF.