Limes are a versatile citrus fruit that can add a bright, fresh flavor to many dishes and beverages. While fresh lime juice certainly has its merits, sometimes it’s more convenient to juice limes in advance and store the juice in the fridge for later use. But how long does lime juice actually last in the refrigerator? Here, we’ll go over everything you need to know about storing lime juice and maximizing its shelf life.
How to Store Lime Juice
Before getting into lime juice storage times, let’s look at some tips for storing it properly in the first place:
- Juice your limes when they are fresh and ripe for maximum flavor and acidity.
- Use a citrus juicer or reamer to extract the juice. Avoid juicing limes in a blender or food processor, as this can introduce excess air.
- Strain the lime juice through a fine mesh sieve to remove any pulp or seeds.
- Pour the strained juice into an airtight container, like a mason jar or resealable plastic container.
- Make sure the container is completely clean and dry before adding the juice.
- Leave about 1/2 inch of headspace in the container and seal it tightly.
- Store the container of lime juice in the back of the refrigerator, where temperatures are coldest.
- If storing for more than 5 days, consider freezing some of the juice in ice cube trays for longer term storage.
How Long Does Lime Juice Last in the Fridge?
So how long is that fresh-squeezed lime juice good for once it’s stored properly in the refrigerator? Here are some general guidelines:
In an Airtight Container
Properly stored in an airtight container, lime juice will generally stay good for:
- 5-7 days past its juicing date if kept in the back of the fridge.
- Up to 2 weeks if the juice is strained well, stored in sterile containers, and kept chilled at 34-40°F.
For even longer storage, consider freezing excess lime juice in ice cube trays. Frozen lime juice cubes can be stored for:
- 6-8 months in an airtight freezer bag or container.
- Up to 1 year for maximum quality if frozen at 0°F or below.
Freezing lime juice allows you to simply pop out a cube anytime a recipe calls for a tablespoon or two of juice.
How to Tell If Lime Juice Has Gone Bad
Lime juice that has been stored too long can go bad or spoil. Here are some signs to check for:
- Appearance: Separated liquid, cloudiness, particles or pulp clumps, sliminess.
- Texture: Increased viscosity or thickness.
- Smell: Fermented, winy, or moldy odor.
- Taste: Bitter, sour, or unpleasant flavors.
- Mold: Any fuzzy or slimy mold growth.
If your lime juice exhibits any of these signs, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw it out. Don’t taste it to check if you suspect it may be spoiled.
Does Lime Juice Go Bad or Just Lose Quality?
So does lime juice ever really “go bad” in a food safety sense? Let’s take a closer look:
- Lime juice is quite acidic, with a typical pH around 2.0-2.5. This acidity inhibits microbial growth and makes spoilage unlikely.
- However, deterioration in quality can occur over time, with some loss of flavor, aroma, and acidity.
- If stored improperly for too long, mold growth and fermentation is possible.
- Botulism and foodborne illness are very unlikely risks with refrigerated lime juice.
So while contaminated lime juice could potentially make you sick, the biggest risk with old juice is a decline in flavor and quality rather than food safety issues.
How to Extend the Shelf Life of Lime Juice
To get the maximum possible shelf life and quality retention from your lime juice, follow these tips:
- Start with ripe, fresh limes.
- Juice them directly before storage.
- Strain well through a fine mesh sieve.
- Use sterile containers washed in hot, soapy water.
- Store in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
- Keep lime juice containers away from ethylene-producing fruits like apples, which can hasten deterioration.
- Freeze excess juice in ice cube trays or bags for long term storage.
With proper storage methods, you can enjoy your fresh-squeezed lime juice for up to 2 weeks refrigerated or up to 1 year frozen.
The Best Ways to Use Up Lime Juice
If you find yourself with a container of aging lime juice that’s still good but needs to be used up, here are some delicious ways to put it to work:
- Add it to salsa, guacamole, or dips for a bright, tangy flavor.
- Mix it into cold salads like chicken, egg, or tuna salad.
- Stir it into vegetable or grain bowls.
- Use it in marinades and dressings for chicken, fish, or pork.
- Mix up citrusy cocktail recipes like gimlets, mojitos, or margaritas.
- Blend it into smoothies for a dose of vitamin C.
- Mix with olive oil, garlic, and herbs for a quick pan sauce.
- Use in ceviche to “cook” raw fish or shrimp.
With a squeeze of creativity, you can take that aging lime juice from the back of the fridge and turn it into something delicious.
Still have questions about how long lime juice lasts? Here are some commonly asked questions:
Does lime juice ever fully go bad?
Due to its high acidity, lime juice is very shelf-stable and unlikely to actually spoil. However, it can start to taste bitter, develop off-flavors, separate, or grow mold if left for too long. These are signs it has deteriorated in quality and should be discarded.
Can lime juice be frozen?
Yes, freezing is a great option for long-term storage of lime juice. Frozen juice will retain its quality for up to 1 year. Freeze in ice cube trays or bags.
What happens if you drink spoiled lime juice?
You’re unlikely to get food poisoning or become seriously ill from contaminated lime juice alone due to its high acidity. However, unpleasant digestive upset is possible if enough spoiled juice is consumed. Don’t taste questionable lime juice to test it.
Does lime juice go bad faster in the fridge door?
Yes, it’s best to store lime juice containers in the back of the fridge, where temperatures are most stable. The door is subject to more fluctuations in temperature, causing juice to deteriorate faster.
Can you make lime juice last longer by adding vinegar or oil?
No, adding ingredients like vinegar or oil won’t significantly prolong the shelf life of lime juice. Proper refrigeration and freezing are more effective preservation methods.
The Bottom Line
Thanks to its high acidity, lime juice has excellent shelf life compared to other juices. With proper refrigeration, lime juice can maintain quality for up to 2 weeks past juicing. Freezing extends its storage life even further. Keep lime juice in airtight containers and use disposition signs like changes in sight, smell, and taste to determine if it’s time to toss it. With proper handling, you can enjoy the bright pop of lime juice for many dishes and drinks to come.
|Refrigerated in airtight container
|Refrigerated, strained, in sterile container
|Up to 2 weeks
|Frozen in cubes or bags
|6-8 months for quality
|Frozen at 0°F or below
|Up to 1 year for quality