Lime juice is a versatile ingredient used in many recipes. It provides a bright, citrusy flavor that enhances the taste of both sweet and savory dishes. While fresh lime juice is ideal, it’s not always practical to squeeze limes every time you need lime juice. Preserving or storing lime juice can help ensure you always have it on hand when you need that hit of acidity in a recipe.
Why Preserve Lime Juice?
There are several benefits to preserving lime juice:
- Shelf stability – Fresh lime juice only lasts about 3 days in the fridge. Preserving it allows it to keep for weeks or months.
- Convenience – Preserved lime juice is ready to use whenever you need it for cooking or baking.
- Flavor consistency – The flavor and acidity of preserved lime juice remains consistent batch to batch.
- Seasonality – Limes may be harder to find or more expensive out of season. Preserved lime juice allows you to enjoy summer flavors year-round.
- Reduced waste – Preserving lime juice prevents unused fresh limes from going bad and having to be thrown out.
How to Preserve Lime Juice
There are a few different methods you can use to preserve fresh lime juice at home:
Freezing is one of the easiest ways to store lime juice. To freeze lime juice:
- Squeeze fresh lime juice from limes. Strain out any pulp or seeds.
- Pour the lime juice into ice cube trays or small containers like jars or silicone molds.
- Cover the trays or containers and freeze overnight.
- Once frozen, pop the lime juice cubes out of the trays. Transfer to freezer bags or airtight containers.
- Store frozen lime juice cubes in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- To use, simply take out as many cubes as needed. Let thaw at room temperature or in the refrigerator before using.
Canning lime juice involves heating it in a water bath to kill bacteria and microorganisms. This helps preserve the juice in an airtight jar at room temperature for up to a year.
To can lime juice:
- Squeeze fresh lime juice and strain out the solids.
- Pour the juice into clean canning jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace.
- Wipe the rims clean and seal the jars with the lids and rings.
- Place the jars in a water bath canner and cover completely with water. Bring to a boil.
- Boil pint jars for 15 minutes and quart jars for 20 minutes at sea level. Add more time for higher elevations.
- Turn off heat and allow the jars to cool in the water for 5 minutes.
- Remove the jars from the canner and allow to cool completely on a towel. The lids should seal as they cool.
- Check that the lids have sealed properly then store the jars in a cool, dark place for up to one year.
Lime Juice Concentrate
You can make concentrated lime juice by simmering fresh lime juice down to reduce the water content. This intensifies the flavor and allows you to store smaller amounts of juice.
To make lime juice concentrate:
- Squeeze fresh lime juice and strain out the solids.
- Pour the juice into a saucepan. For every 1 cup of juice, add 1/4 cup of water.
- Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Allow it to simmer for about 15-20 minutes until reduced by half.
- Let the concentrate cool completely.
- Store in a jar in the fridge for 2-3 weeks or in the freezer for 4-6 months.
- To use, dilute with equal parts water to reconstitute to single strength juice.
Lime Juice Powder
Dehydrating lime juice into a powder is a very space-efficient storage method. Lime juice powder can be reconstituted with water when ready to use.
To make lime juice powder:
- Squeeze fresh limes and strain the juice to remove solids.
- Pour the lime juice onto dehydrator trays in thin, even layers.
- Dehydrate at 135°F for 6-8 hours, until completely dried. Flipping the trays halfway through may speed drying.
- Once dry, break up the dried lime juice into a powder using a blender or food processor. Process into a fine powder.
- Store the lime juice powder in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year.
- To reconstitute, mix 1 tablespoon powder with 1/4 cup water.
Tips for Preserving Lime Juice
- Use fresh, good quality limes. Old or overripe limes will not produce great flavored juice.
- Wash limes thoroughly before juicing.
- Strain the juice through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to remove pulp and seeds.
- Only fill jars, containers or ice cube trays 3/4 full when freezing to allow for expansion.
- When canning, use sterile equipment and properly sterilized jars. Check seals before storing.
- For concentrates and powders, spread juice thinly on dehydrator trays for fastest drying.
- Label everything with the date before freezing or storing so you use the oldest juice first.
- Taste test reconstituted juice before using in a recipe in case the flavor has changed over time.
How to Use Preserved Lime Juice
The possibilities are endless when it comes to using preserved lime juice in recipes. Here are some ideas:
- Add to dressings, marinades, and sauces for a bright citrus flavor.
- Mix with olive oil, garlic, and herbs for a finishing drizzle.
- Make lemonade, limeade, or lemon-lime soda by the glass or pitcher.
- Include in the brine for pickling fruits, vegetables, eggs, etc.
- Use in ceviche, pico de gallo, or guacamole instead of fresh lime juice.
- Mix into smoothies, juice blends, and protein shakes.
- Stir into curry dishes, chili, soups, stews, and braises.
- Use to make sweet treats like key lime pie, lime curd, or lime sherbet.
- Combine with tequila and triple sec for homemade margaritas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I freeze lime juice in plastic bags?
Yes, you can freeze lime juice in plastic freezer bags. Make sure to remove as much air from the bags as possible before sealing. This helps prevent freezer burn. You can also double bag for extra protection.
How long does frozen lime juice last?
Properly frozen lime juice will maintain quality for 4-6 months in the freezer. For best flavor and quality, use within 6 months.
Is it necessary to strain lime juice before preserving?
It’s highly recommended to strain lime juice through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth before preserving. This removes any pulp or solids which could cause the juice to spoil more quickly or affect the texture.
Can I use bottled lime juice instead of fresh?
You can use bottled lime juice, however the flavor is usually not as fresh tasting as juice you squeeze yourself. Check the bottled juice’s expiration date and give it a taste test before using in recipes.
What’s the difference between lime juice concentrate and lime juice powder?
Lime juice concentrate is reduced down to intensify the flavor but still contains some water content. Lime juice powder is completely dehydrated into a dry, powdered form. The concentrate stores for a few weeks while the powder lasts up to a year.
With some simple preparation, you can easily preserve fresh lime juice to have it readily available to flavor your cooking all year long. Freezing, canning, concentrating, and dehydrating are all effective methods for long-term lime juice storage. Each preserved lime juice can be reconstituted and used just like fresh squeezed juice. Having preserved lime juice on hand saves time and effort while still providing bright, robust lime flavor to your favorite recipes whenever a touch of citrus is needed.