When a recipe calls for lime juice, you better not skip it. A small amount of lime juice can bring the dish to the desired balance. Thus, having a bottle of lime juice at hand is always a good idea.
But how long does lime juice last? Freshly squeezed lime juice doesn’t have a long shelf life for obvious reasons. It should be used within 2 to 3 days. Store-bought lime juice, on the other hand, lasts very long – up to 6 months past the printed date if unopened and up to 6 to 12 months once opened and refrigerated.
This article is all about lime juice. Whether you prefer fresh or store-bought lime juice, you will learn everything you need to know about its storage conditions and shelf life.
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Does Lime Juice Go Bad?
A splash of lime juice brings so much freshness and lightness to dishes. It is also great in drinks. But what happens to a bottle of lime juice sitting in the fridge for months?
Lime juice does go bad if you don’t store it properly. Depending on how often you use it, you may have to consider whether it is worth buying a bottle of commercially produced lime juice or having a lime or two in the fridge will do the job.
It should be noted, however, that store-bought lime juice lasts quite long even after being opened. So, they are quite cost-efficient. But on the flip side, no store-bought juice ever can be compared with freshly squeezed lime juice and its natural intensity. Thus, if you are using lime juice only once in a while, you may consider opting for the fresh juice and buying limes instead of bottled lime juice.
To sum up, yes, lime juice does go bad, whether it is store-bought or freshly squeezed. The latter lasts shorter due to the lack of preservatives but it does have its benefits too.
How to Store Lime Juice?
Lime juice is supposed to add freshness to dishes and enhance the flavor of the rest of the ingredients used. For this reason, it is important to store lime juice right in order to preserve the freshness of the juice itself.
Depending on whether you buy bottled lime juice or use freshly squeezed juice, the storage conditions will slightly differ. If you are a lemon juice type of person and have found the right way of storing it, then you won’t have any issues with lime juice. The storage conditions for lime juice are practically the same as for lemon juice.
Store-Bought Lime Juice
Lime juice is almost always sold unrefrigerated in stores. Thus, you don’t need to store it in the fridge as soon as you bring it home. Keep unopened lime juice in a cool kitchen cabinet or in the pantry. The key is keeping the juice away from heat sources. Temperature fluctuations will also have a negative impact on lime juice.
It is also important to keep lime juice in a dark place. While lime juice doesn’t usually come in translucent bottles, darker bottles don’t fully protect the liquid from the sun. Thus, always keep lime juice somewhere dark in order not to accelerate the deterioration process.
Once opened, you should keep lime juice refrigerated. While lime juice is acidic and often acts as a natural preservative, you should keep it refrigerated otherwise it will go bad.
The primary rule of keeping lime juice in the fridge is making sure that the bottle is tightly sealed. It is important to minimize the contact of the liquid with air otherwise it will quickly lose its qualities.
If the original packaging of the juice is damaged, transfer it into another bottle that you can seal tightly.
Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
Freshly squeezed lime juice should always be stored in the fridge. Keep lime juice in a glass bottle or jar that seals tightly.
While having fresh lime juice ready in the fridge is quite handy, we don’t recommend doing this in advance as a means to save time while cooking.
Homemade lime juice is best when it’s freshly squeezed. Additionally, it doesn’t keep nearly as long as bottled lime juice from the supermarket.
So, don’t squeeze all your limes in the attempts of having a bottle of homemade lime juice in the fridge. If you have leftover lime juice, do refrigerate it to use it within a day or two.
How Long Does Lime Juice Last?
Store-bought lime juice has a very long shelf life. If unopened, commercially produced lime juice will last up to 6 months past the printed date. The ‘Best by’ date on lime juice is simply an estimation of how long it will maintain its best qualities. Past that date, the juice starts to deteriorate gradually until it becomes completely unsuitable for use.
It wouldn’t be logical for commercially produced lime juice to last shorter than this as lime juice is very intense and you need to use it in very small amounts. If you don’t feel comfortable with letting the juice sit in the fridge for months, buy the smallest bottles of lime juice so that you can finish them in a shorter period of time.
Opened lime juice stored in the fridge will be good for at least 6 months. In certain cases, you may find that the juice is still good even for a year after it has been opened.
The secret of store-bought lime juice lasting so long is not only its natural acidity but also the fact that manufacturers add preservatives to make the juice maintain its qualities longer. Additionally, store-bought lime juice is generally pasteurized.
Homemade lime juice is best used within 24 hours. However, it can be kept safely in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
Fresh limes last up to 15 days in the fridge. Thus, if you are someone that prefers homemade lime juice over store-bought citrus juices, we recommend keeping fresh limes in the fridge instead of squeezing the juice and keeping it in a bottle as an alternative to the store-bought versions.
Can You Freeze Lime Juice?
Freezing lime juice is a great idea. While store-bought lime juice has a quite long shelf life and may not need refrigeration, homemade lime juice will certainly benefit from it. Freezing will make freshly squeezed lime juice last up to 4 months. The juice will keep for much longer so long as the temperature in the freezer is stable. But it will maintain its best qualities for the first few months.
The most convenient way of freezing lime juice is doing it in ice cube trays. Pour equal amounts of juice into each cube. Once frozen, remove them and transfer them into a zip-top bag to save space in the freezer.
Smaller cubes of lime juice won’t take long to thaw. Additionally, they are great for using in cocktails and water.
If you know you will be using all of the juice at once, you can freeze it in a plastic container with a tight lid. When using a container to freeze the juice, make sure to leave some space between the lid and the liquid as the latter expands while freezing.
Defrosted lime juice has a shelf life of 2 to 3 days. Do not refreeze lime juice.
Signs That Lime Juice Has Gone Bad
The primary sign of bad lime juice is the off-odor. If the liquid smells off-putting and not refreshing and ‘clean’ as it should, it’s time for another bottle of lime juice or a fresh squeeze.
Moldy lime juice is a rare occasion. But if you happen to see mold in the bottle with juice, discard it.
People are often concerned about the juice changing its color and getting darker. If there are no other signs of spoilage, color changes don’t mean that the juice is spoiled. Moreover, this is a natural process, and not a sign that lime juice has gone bad.
As far as the flavor is concerned, lime juice doesn’t necessarily need to go bad in order to lose its flavor qualities and intensity. This happens gradually until the juice reaches a point when it no longer makes sense to use it.
So, your lime juice is good so long as there are no signs of spoilage, and the taste is there.
Can Old Lime Juice Make You Sick?
Consuming any kind of expired or old product is not safe. If the lime juice has been sitting in your fridge for too long, whether it’s store-bought or homemade, it may be contaminated with bacteria or contain toxins. These can bring forth symptoms of food poisoning.
Always practice food safety and inspect the products before using them, especially if you have had them longer than the date on the packaging suggests.