How Long Do Lemons Last | Extend Shelf Life

Last updated: 01/29/20

Lemons are a fruit that is best serve chilled in a glass if you ask me.  You might be asking question of how long do lemons last, so you can best store them.

We have all the details, plus a way to preserve them Morroccan style. Lemons shelf life is contingent on the many ways & methods that you choose to store it. 

Here are some of the approximate times of common storage practices:

  • Properly stored lemons will last 3-4 weeks at room temperature 
  • Freshly harvested lemons will last for 1-2 months in the fridge
  • Cut lemons last about 3-4 days in the fridge
  • Frozen lemons will last for 4-5 months in the freezer
  • Cooked lemons will last for approximately 3-4 days in the fridge
  • Pickled lemons lasts for about 4-6 months if pickled, canned, and stored in a refrigerator properly

You will learn about the shelf life of lemons, plus some tips on how to make lemons last longer.

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There is more to just sticking lemons in your glass of ice tea.  You will learn the many different ways to extend its shelf life.  

Our suggestions are based on the premise that you properly follow the practices of food preservation.

As always, use your best judgment when trying to determine when something is no longer edible or safe to eat.

1 – Shelf Life of Lemons at Room Temperature

Lemon do have a fairly long shelf life when properly stored.

Lemons will last up to 4 weeks when stored at room temperature.

After about 5 to 6 days in a room, lemons start losing their moisture and begin to deteriorate.

The holes in the rinds of this citrus fruit cause moisture to escape, which cause it to dry out from the inside and get spoiled.

Fresh lemons last two to four weeks inside a room while cut lemons will last no more than a day or two.

how long do lemons last

2- How Long Do Lemons Last in the Fridge | Shelf Life of Lemons in the Fridge

Lemons that are not cut and stored properly in your fridge will last for about 1-2 months.

Research states that it is important to put your lemons in a zipper bag, squeeze as much air as you can out of it before putting it inside the fridge because loosed lemons don’t fare well inside the refrigerator.

Lemons can maintain much of their flavor and juice in this condition for about five weeks before they begin to lose their viability.

The perfect temperature for preserving ripe lemons is between 4º and 10ºC (39–50ºF). 

The middle or door shelves are at this temperature in most refrigerators.

Fresh lemons last one to two months in the fridge while cut lemons last not more than four days.

3- Shelf Life of Lemons in the Freezer

A frozen whole lemon can last for 4-5 months.  You always want to ensure you select the best ones as freezing them does not improve the quality of the citrus.

The process of freezing lemons is quite simple and the result is tremendous. 

Frozen lemons can be used in numerous ways and almost the whole fruit can be used in whatever process is involved.

Freezing lemons will always offer you fresh lemons to attach tang to beverages.

You can slice the lemons before freezing or freeze them as a whole.

You can also freeze just the juice. The lemons are much easier to juice after they have been frozen.

4- How Long Do Cooked Lemons Last | Cooked Lemons Shelf Life

Cooked lemons will last for about 3-4 days if stored in the fridge.  

It really depends on the other ingredients in the recipe, so be aware that other ingredients could shorten this spoilage time.

The body of lemons called zest is utilized for cooking and can last for as long as the meal remains consumable.

The outer layer of the lemon, known as zest, holds lots of flavors that can be used to improve food flavor. 

how long do lemons last

Lemons are very common in European cuisine and are very useful in cooking. Vitamin C is extremely high and calories are low in lemons.

This citrus fruit is also utilized as a cleansing agent and as a beauty and health aid.

5- How to Properly Store Lemons | Best Ways to Store Lemons

Try to ensure the lemons you purchase have thin skins because they are juicier than those with rough skin.

If you do not buy a lemon for quick use, prefer to purchase green ones that ripen gradually.

Lemons kept at room temperature will only last a week before they become hardened.

Only inappropriate storage conditions can the aforementioned shelf life be reached. 

That being said, here are some ways to store lemons adequately.

  • Always chose to place the lemon in a zippered container and make certain to squeeze the air out of it as much as you can.  The lemons will maintain their flavor and juice for longer than four weeks because of this.
  • If you already used one portion of the lemon and want to keep the other part, it is best to put it on a fruit bowl and cover it with plastic. Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge.
  • Be certain you don’t leave the fruit at room temperature if you have crushed the lemon into juice and intend to save it. Although acidic, lemon juice tends to promote the growth of bacteria at room temperature. 
  • Glass bottles are not recommended for storing the juice as light decomposes the juice faster. Instead, store them in a non-transparent plastic or glass container. In a refrigerator, it lasts roughly 2-3 days.
  • Lemon juice will also be stored best by crushing all the liquid from the lemons into an ice bucket and freezing them. You can now utilize them in your dishes without worrying about losing their taste or flavor.
  • An easy tactic is to place them in a water-filled glass jar. Put together the lemons you intend storing and set them in the fridge.
  • Lemons are resistant to ethylene, which is recognized as the maturing compound that spoils fruit. Thus, do not preserve lemons close to fruits that emit ethylene such as bananas, apples, apricots, etc.

6- How to Know if Lemons are Bad or Spoiled

An expression advises you to make lemonade out of the lemons life offers you.

However, what if life throws you rotten lemons? 

Are you just going to discard them?

It isn’t right, most especially when some life is left of the lemon, which has just started its rotting process.

For instance, the lemons can still be encumbered with its health advantages, such as digestive assistance and body detoxification.

Uses of lemon include a component for baking and cooking and giving flavor to tasteless beverages.

Therefore, ensure you know when a lemon is spoiled before you chuck it away.

The revealing symptoms of rotten lemons include:


There are two explanations why the lemon has become green. One is fine and the other is not.

Beginning with the good: If the color of the lemon is bright green (just like a lime), then it certainly is not an indication that it’s bad, rather it is due to the changes in temperature.

Nonetheless, search for brown spots, because they show a lemon is becoming bad.

As for the bad side of the greenness: If the green on the lemon is typically dark, with a gritty surface, it is very likely to be mold. 

Throw out the lemon out once you figure out mold in it.


Mold does not discriminate – any citrus fruit, including limes, grapefruits, and lemons, maybe a victim of it.

Forget to use the lemon as a supper component if this is the case. 

The fruit should instead be thrown away.

7- Methods to Make Lemons Last

Lemons can be stored for a good period of time if you prepare it properly. Let’s take a look at a few different ways on preserving lemons.  

Freezing Your Lemons

The best way to make lemons last is by freezing whole or cut lemons. You can also juice your lemons and freeze the juice in an airtight container.  

There are some steps you need to complete before you freeze them:

  1. Wash the whole lemon to ensure the outer skin is clean.
  2. Drain the lemons and pat dry as best as possible.
  3. You can either cut them in slices or wedges or leave whole.
  4. Place cut or whole lemons on a tray lined with parchment paper.
  5. Place in the freezer for approximately 45 minutes to an hour.  This will ensure that the lemons freezes but does not clump together.
  6. Place frozen lemons in a tightly sealed bag.  Vacuum sealed bags are the most optimal way.

Pickled or Preserved Lemons

This method of preserving lemons involves placing the lemons in a pickling liquid.  Pickling is almost always a liquid that is composed of vinegar, sugar and/or salt.  

It also can include some other spices that lend well to the pickling flavors that you are most familiar with.

Typically, pickled lemons will last about 6 months in the fridge.  The combination of vinegar and salt provides a very acidic environment that impedes bacteria.

You definitely still want to keep it covered and stored in the fridge.

Here is a simple Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipe for preserved lemons that is a hit in our home.

  1. Cut up your lemons into slices that you will layer in a canning jar.
  2. Use a ¼ tsp of salt in between each lemon slice
  3. Once your jar is pressed to the top, carefully press it down and squeeze in as many more slices as you can
  4. You want to ensure the lemons are covered in the juice. Place a cover on the jar and let it sit at room temperature for 3-4 days.

That’s it.  You can store these for about 5-6 months.

Canning Lemons

Lemons will make fantastic jams, jelly, or marmalade if that is your preference.  You could also simply slice and preserve in its own liquid for use later.

There are 2 methods of canning that we must discuss.  There is the water bath canning method and there is pressure cooking canning. 

Lemons require the water bath canning method.

Water bath canning reach the necessary temperature to process lemons.  Lemon are a high-acid food, so this is why pressure cooking is not needed.

Pressure cooking canning methods are processed or boiled to temperatures 250°F or more.  This is just not necessary for this fruit, but you can still process them this way if that is all you had.

The best guide that we use for canning and pickling is the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  

You can find this book here.

Other Methods To Make Lemons Last

Dehydrate lemons is a fantastic way to preserve them. 

You can make them into a powder or perhaps just zest the lemon skin.  

You would need to use some type of food dehydrate it and cook it at 95°F until almost crumbly.

Dehydrating basically dries the lemons of 90-95% of its water content.

This slows down the rate at which lemons spoils.

You still need to store it in an airtight container to maximize its shelf life.

Some report that dehydrated lemon will last about 4-5 years if stored in an airtight container or bag.

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More info

Keep in mind that the information that we provided is based on recommendations from the FDA, our own observations, and the data from other sources such as the Ball guide we mentioned above.

Please do your own due diligence in determining your own set of guidelines.

This information provided is at your own risk.  Use your best judgment. We did our best to present you with the best information we had available at the time of this writing.

The shelf lifetimes are based on the following conditions of your storage area:

  • Room temperature of 60°- 70°F
  • Refrigerator temperature of 35° – 40° F
  • Freezer temperature of 0°F or lower.

Check out our guide on ways of preserving food for more information on some of the techniques.

Related Questions

  • How long do lemon last in water? –Lemons will last anywhere from 3 to 5 days in water or liquid such as tea in the refrigerator.
  • How long do lemons last refrigerated? – Lemons last about 1-2 months in the fridge if not cut or damaged.
Green Thumb Gardener
how long do lemons last
Jeremy Starke

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