Lime juice is a versatile and useful ingredient to have on hand in the kitchen. It can add bright, fresh flavor to many dishes and beverages. But if you’ve ever bought a bottle of lime juice at the store, you may wonder how long it actually lasts after opening. Here’s a comprehensive look at how long store-bought lime juice lasts, how to tell if it’s gone bad, and the best storage methods to maximize its shelf life.
Unopened Lime Juice
First, let’s consider how long unopened, store-bought lime juice lasts. As long as the bottle remains properly sealed, lime juice can last for a surprisingly long time:
|Unopened Shelf Life
|Freshly squeezed and bottled
As you can see, an unopened bottle of lime juice has a shelf life between 18 months to 3 years. The longest lasting types are from concentrate, while freshly squeezed juice has the shortest shelf life. But even fresh-squeezed lime juice keeps for well over a year when sealed.
Opened Lime Juice in the Refrigerator
Once you open a bottle of lime juice, the clock starts ticking. Oxygen, light and warmth all work to deteriorate lime juice over time. But refrigeration helps slow this process. Here’s how long opened lime juice lasts in the fridge:
|Refrigerator Life After Opening
Freshly squeezed lime juice has the shortest fridge life at only 5-7 days. Lime juice made from concentrate or pasteurized lime juice lasts between 4-6 weeks when refrigerated. So you don’t have to rush to use up the bottle, but it’s still best to use opened lime juice within about a month.
How to Tell if Opened Lime Juice Has Gone Bad
You don’t necessarily have to toss lime juice the second its suggested fridge life ends. You can use some simple tests to check if it’s still usable:
- Check appearance: Fresh lime juice should be a bright green color. It will gradually start to turn brown as it oxidizes. When the juice is more brown than green, it’s time to discard it.
- Check smell: Open the bottle and sniff. Lime juice that’s gone bad will lose its bright, zesty citrus smell. Instead it may smell moldy, rotten, or fermented.
- Taste it: Your taste buds are super sensitive, so sampling a tiny sip of lime juice can instantly tell you if it tastes sour, moldy or off. Spit it out if the flavor is not pleasant and fresh.
Trust your senses – if the lime juice doesn’t seem quite right visually, aromatically or when you taste it, the safest bet is to discard the remainder. Don’t risk foodborne illness by trying to salvage bad lime juice.
Does Lime Juice Go Bad Once Mixed into a Dish or Beverage?
What about leftovers that already have lime juice mixed in? Here are some guidelines:
- Dips and dressings: Around 5 days maximum. The additional ingredients help preserve the lime juice a bit longer.
- Marinades: Discard after 2-3 days. The marinade has directly contacted raw meat/seafood which makes it more perishable.
- Cocktails and punch: 1-2 days. Alcohol helps extend the lime juice’s shelf life slightly.
- Other beverages: Drink within a day to stay safe.
- Cooked foods: Around 3-5 days since cooking kills bacteria.
To extend the shelf life as long as possible, make sure leftovers containing lime juice are promptly refrigerated in airtight containers. Give dishes a smell/taste test before eating them if they are close to the time limits above.
Does Lime Juice Go Bad Once Frozen?
Putting an opened bottle of lime juice in the freezer can significantly prolong its shelf life. Here’s how long frozen lime juice keeps:
- Freshly squeezed: 4-6 months
- From concentrate/pasteurized: 9-12 months
Be sure to leave some headspace in the bottle before freezing, as lime juice will expand slightly. Thaw in the refrigerator before using frozen lime juice. Give it a good shake once thawed and do a smell/taste test to ensure it hasn’t picked up any freezer odors or deterioration.
How to Store Lime Juice Properly
To get the most shelf life out of your lime juice once opened, be sure to store it properly:
- Refrigerate immediately after opening.
- Keep lime juice in its original container if possible.
- If transferring to another container, choose an airtight glass or plastic bottle.
- Make sure the container is clean – wash thoroughly before use.
- Keep air exposure to a minimum by sealing tightly after each use.
- Store lime juice toward the back of the refrigerator, where temperature stays most consistent.
- If freezing, allow headspace and use freezer-safe packaging.
Avoid storing lime juice on the refrigerator door, where the temperature fluctuates. Also keep lime juice away from ethylene-producing fruits like apples, bananas and tomatoes, as this can hasten spoilage.
Signs of Spoiled Lime Juice
Despite proper storage methods, opened lime juice will eventually deteriorate. Here are the top signs your lime juice has gone bad:
- Change in color: Fresh lime juice has a bright green hue. It will turn progressively brown as it oxidizes and spoils.
- Cloudy appearance: Particles or clouding instead of a clear consistency indicate spoilage.
- Mold: You may see fuzzy mold forming on the surface of old lime juice or on the underside of the bottle cap.
- Strange odors: Spoiled lime juice gives off unpleasant smells like rotting, mustiness or fermentation instead of citrusy freshness.
- Off flavors: The taste is the ultimate test – sour, bitter, moldy, rotten or rancid flavors mean the lime juice has gone bad.
When in doubt, remember the old adage “When in doubt, throw it out.” Don’t risk getting sick by tasting lime juice that looks or smells questionable.
Uses for Lime Juice
While it’s best consumed soon after opening, lime juice can liven up so many foods and drinks during its prime. Here are some of the top ways to use lime juice:
- Cocktails like gimlets, caipirinhas, mojitos, daiquiris
- Lime water or limeade
- Soda water
- Iced tea or hot tea
Marinades and Sauces
- Fish tacos
- Shrimp or ceviche
- Chicken or pork
- Salad dressings
- Green goddess dressing
- Key lime pie
- Lime curd
- Lime bars
- Sugar cookies
- Fish tacos
- Fajitas or tacos
Lime juice is so versatile – keep a bottle on hand to amplify flavors in both sweet and savory recipes.
Can lime juice be frozen?
Yes, freezing is a great way to extend the shelf life of opened lime juice. It will keep frozen for 4-6 months (freshly squeezed) or 9-12 months (pasteurized/concentrate). Allow headspace in the container as liquids expand when frozen.
Can you substitute lemon juice for lime juice?
In a pinch, you can substitute lemon juice for lime juice, or vice versa. They have similar acidity levels, though the flavor profile differs – lemon juice has more tart, citrusy notes while lime has an rounds, tropical taste. Adjust lemon juice amounts by starting with 3/4 the amount of lime juice called for, adding more to taste.
Is it better to juice a lime or use bottled lime juice?
Freshly squeezed lime juice will have the most vibrant flavor and maximum nutrition. However, bottled lime juice provides convenience and a long shelf life. Look for brands without additives like sweeteners, colors or preservatives for a closer to fresh-squeezed flavor.
Does boiling lime juice affect the taste?
Boiling lime juice can intensify its sourness and cause some subtle flavor changes. This is because boiling evaporates mellower-tasting compounds, leaving more concentrated acidic compounds behind. For the freshest flavor, add lime juice at the end of cooking or just before serving.
With proper storage methods, bottled lime juice can retain quality and fresh flavor for up to a month refrigerated or up to a year frozen. Keep it refrigerated immediately after opening, store in an airtight container away from light and heat, and freeze extras to prolong shelf life even more. A quick smell and taste test will let you know if your lime juice is still good or needs to be discarded. Use lime juice to add bright, citrusy flair in marinades, dressings, cocktails and baked goods. With a little planning, you can always have fresh-tasting lime juice ready to use in your favorite recipes.