How To Store Lemons So They Stay Fresh Longer

No matter what you may have heard.

There's nothing quite like a fresh lemon. Its brightness adds a pop of color to the kitchen, while its tangy juice perfectly complements the fluffy topping of a lemon meringue and the frosting on a lemon-lime poke cake.

But when you buy a few lemons (or a whole bag), you want to make sure you get every last drop of juice and every last inch of zest from them. That starts with storing lemons properly.

Here are five of the best ways to keep this versatile citrus fresher longer, so you'll always have an endless supply to brighten your pasta suppersslow-cooker meals, and desserts.

Whole and Sliced Lemons and Limes on White Background
Getty/Géza Bálint Ujvárosi / EyeEm

How To Buy the Best Lemons

"Since lemons come from different parts of the country, usually California, the Southwest, or Southeast, as well as internationally from Mexico and India, they are usually picked unripe," explains Richard LaMarita, a chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. "Ripe lemons will have a glossiness, firm feel, and deep yellow color."

Keeping your lemons fresh for as long as possible starts with what lemons you purchase at the grocery store. LaMarita recommends staying away from ones that are wrinkled or squishy. Instead, look for brightly colored ones that are firm and feel like they have a lot of juice inside.

How To Store Lemons

Don't let those juicy citrus fruits dry up or mold before you can use them. These 5 lemon storage methods will help.

1. Use the crisper section of your refrigerator

According to LaMarita, refrigeration is key for keeping your lemons fresh for a long time. "I store my lemons free-standing in the crisper drawer," he explains. "They can easily last a month or more there." 

Designed to lengthen the freshness of stored fruits and vegetables, crisper drawers have air vents that allow you to control the air flowing into and out of them.

Opening the air vents results in more airflow, creating a low-humidity environment and an ideal condition for storing lemons. When kept this way, your lemons can stay fresh for up to three weeks.

2. Store them in water

In the now-viral TikTok, several whole lemons are placed in a mason jar filled with water and then stored in the fridge. When stored this way, user meowmeix claims that your lemons can remain fresh for up to three months.

The kitchen scientists over at Cook's Illustrated agree—well, sorta. During the course of their experiment, they found that storing lemons in a zip-top bag with a 1/4 cup of added water kept them juicy and fresh for up to four weeks.

3. Don't store in plastic

Lemons don't last very long if they're not stored correctly—the proverbial cool and dry environment is key to preventing your lemons from turning hard and dry. Plastic bags, however, can trap moisture, causing the lemons to spoil much quicker.

Instead, store them in paper or reusable mesh bags as they're more breathable and allow the air to circulate around the lemons, keeping them fresher for longer.

And, if you don't have any paper or mesh bags on hand, use a zip-top bag with as much air squeezed out of it as possible. According to the scientists at Cook's Illustrated, they'll keep for up to four weeks this way.

4. Keep away from other fruits

One of the best ways to keep lemons fresh for longer is to store them separately. "Certain fruits and vegetables, like melons, bananas, apples, tomatoes, and avocados, give off ethylene gas," says LaMarita. "This will speed up the ripening of neighboring vegetables and fruits, mostly delicately skinned foods like string beans, leafy greens, and apricots."

Lemons, along with limes, are also sensitive to the effects of ethylene, so storing them with ethylene-gas-producing fruits and vegetables will cause them to spoil faster.

5. Freeze your lemons

If you end up with way too many lemons, consider freezing them. "You can freeze cut or whole lemons—they freeze very well," says LaMarita. 

According to food storage company Glad, lemons can be stored in the freezer this way for up to four months. For lemon wedges, freeze them first on a cookie sheet to keep them separate before transferring them to a freezer-friendly zip-top bag.

"However, remember whenever you freeze anything, there will be changes to the cell structure of the food item," explains LaMarita. So, while the frozen lemons will be mushy when defrosted, their juices will remain intact. If you want to prevent this from happening, you can always juice your lemons first and freeze the juice instead.

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