Do Lemons Go Bad? What You Need To Know

Lemons are a great way to add a burst of flavor to drinks, meals, and baked goods. You can also use them for their scent or as a natural cleanser. If you have too many of them, you may be wondering, “Do lemons go bad?”

The answer is yes, lemons go bad. However, they can last up to two weeks at room temperature, and 4-12 weeks in the refrigerator/freezer.

This article discusses everything you need to know about lemons, including what they are, their shelf life, and how to store them correctly so they last longer. Let’s get started.

What Are Lemons?

Lemons are a type of citrus fruit. They are typically yellow in color, with a sour and acidic taste. Lemons have been cultivated for thousands of years, and are an integral part of many cuisines around the world.

They are also a great source of vitamin C, which can help treat flu and other infections. Besides, they also boost our immune systems, promote digestion, and increase iron absorption.

Do Lemons Go Bad?

The answer is yes, but it takes quite a while. Properly stored, lemons will stay at best quality for about 1 to 2 weeks at room temperature and 1to 3 months in the refrigerator/freezer.

To make your lemons last longer, avoid washing them before storing them (moisture will hasten spoilage). Also, ensure to put these fruits in a plastic bag before refrigerating or freezing them immediately (the plastic bag prevents them from turning brown).

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What is the Shelf Life of Lemons?

It depends on the conditions under which the lemons were stored, but in general, you can expect them to stay fresh for about 1-2 weeks.

You can also extend their shelf life by storing them in your refrigerator or freezer. Refrigerated lemons can last for about 1-2 months, while frozen ones can last for about 2-3 months.

It’s also important to note that uncut lemons last longer than their cut counterparts. The reason for this is that a lemon’s skin keeps the juice inside safe from bacteria. Once you cut open a lemon, bacteria can get inside the juice and multiply, leading to spoilage.

Can You Eat Expired Lemons?

The answer is yes. If you’re treating your lemons right (storing them properly), they should still be edible after their “best by” date.

But before eating expired lemons, make sure to check if they aren’t moldy or brown. If you notice any mold or brown patches on your fruit, throw it away immediately. Mold produces mycotoxins, which can be toxic and carcinogenic if consumed.

You should also smell the lemon for any off odors. If it smells off, sour, or foul in any way, toss it. A good lemon will smell exactly how you expect it to smell: clean, sharp, and citrusy.

SEE: How Long You Can Keep Your Food

How to Tell If a Lemon Is Bad

Do the squeeze test

Squeeze the lemon in your palm gently but firmly. Bad lemons will feel softer than good ones because they are decomposing. Also, if the lemon feels light and has a lot of wrinkles, it’s past its prime. A good fresh lemon should feel heavy, firm, and smooth.

Examine the color

Good lemons are bright yellow, some with a slight tinge of green on one side. If your lemon is brown, toss it out immediately because it has probably begun rotting on the inside.

In addition, bruised lemons should be discarded. The bruises indicate that the lemon was damaged by something and may be rotten inside.

Look for mold

Mold can grow on the rind of a lemon fairly quickly, so if you see any fuzzy spots, discard the lemon immediately. If the mold is only on one side, you can cut off that side and use the rest. But if it has spread to other parts of the lemon, toss it in the trash.

Smell the lemon

Fresh citrus fruits have a good citrus scent; if your lemon smells like vinegar or alcohol, it’s bad. If you give the lemon a good sniff and get no aroma at all, it is probably not fresh anymore so you should toss it out.

Check if the lemon is leaking liquid

If the lemon is leaking, it’s probably rotting inside and should not be eaten or used in cooking at all. Leaking liquid usually means that bacteria have entered the fruit and it is no longer safe to eat or cook with.

Taste the lemon

If the lemon tastes bitter, then you may want to discard it. The bitterness of a lemon indicates that the fruit has aged too long and will not taste good.

SEE: How to Stop Food Spoilage and Food Poisoning

How to Preserve Lemons

Store them at room temperature

Store your lemons in a bowl at room temperature (away from direct heat and sunlight). They’ll keep for a week, perhaps two if they’re very fresh, to begin with.

Make use of your refrigerator

Another option is to store your lemons in the refrigerator, where they’ll last for about 1-2 months. Make sure they are in a sealed plastic bag or an airtight container to keep air out.

Freeze them

If you want your lemons to stay fresh for a longer period (up to 3 months or longer), put them in the freezer. However, if you’re freezing them in a bowl with other fruits, remove apples and bananas. These fruits release an ethylene gas that speeds up the ripening process of other fruits.

Make lemonade

If you have a lot of lemons, you can preserve them by making lemonade and refrigerating or freezing the lemonade. This way, you’ll not only preserve your leftover fruits but also enjoy some delicious lemonade whenever you feel like it.

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What should you look for when buying lemons?

When buying lemons, look for the ones that have fairly thick skin and are bright yellow in color. They should also feel heavy for their size and be firm and smooth, with no wrinkles.

Avoid lemons that have green tips on them because this indicates immaturity. Also, avoid any lemons with cuts or bruises, as these can turn bad quickly due to bacteria entering the lemon’s flesh from the outside.

Are lemons good for your health?

Yes, they are. Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C, which boosts your immune system, giving you more energy to fight off diseases and infections. Lemons can also help your body absorb more nutrients from the food you eat.

What does a rotten lemon look like?

When a lemon is rotten, a large portion of it will have turned soft and mushy, with some dark or white spots indicating mold. It will also smell like vinegar or alcohol because it’s a very acidic fruit.

Can bad lemons cause food poisoning?

Yes, they can. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bad lemons are on a list of foods that can carry salmonella, a bacteria that causes food poisoning.

Do lemons go bad in the refrigerator?

Yes, they do. Lemons can stay fresh in the refrigerator for a month or two, but they will go bad if you keep them longer.

If you want to extend their shelf life, you can freeze them whole or as slices. It is best to put them in a plastic bag or an airtight container so that they do not absorb any odors from other items in the freezer.


As it turns out, lemons do go bad. You can store them at room temperature, but after a while (usually 1-2 weeks) they turn bitter and get moldy.

Lemons should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on how long you want them to last. They will generally stay fresh for about two months in the refrigerator, but up to three months in the freezer.

Thanks for reading.

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