I have a tendency to buy lemons in bulk. I grab the biggest bag at the store dreaming of the lemony desserts I’ll bake, the refreshing cocktails in my future and how great fresh lemon zest is going to taste in these citrus-infused dinners. But sure enough, after a few too many days I’ll find a dried-out lemon in the bottom of the crisper drawer. So disappointing since that fruit could have been part of a cool Chilton cocktail after a long work week.
So how do you prevent your lemons from going bad (or at least keep them fresher for longer)? Here’s how!
How to Store Lemons
It can be tempting to store lemons in a pretty bowl on your countertop or kitchen table but avoid the urge to decorate with fresh fruit. Left at room temp, lemons will dry out leaving you with less juice and a tough rind.
Lemons are best kept in the fridge—period. Stashed in the fridge in the crisper drawer or on a shelf, fresh lemons will keep for a week or more. If you really want your lemons to last, pop them in a sealed container (there are even specialty produce keepers for this purpose) or a zip-top bag. This extra step will prevent lemons from drying out and keep them fresh for a month.
How to Store Lemon Juice, Wedges and Zest
If you’ve sliced into a lemon, you can definitely preserve the rest of it—do not toss it. There’s so much you can do with it!
- Half a lemon: Used just half a lemon? Cover the exposed end with food wrap or pop in a sealed container. Use it within a few days. If you want it to last longer, try this method of juicing a lemon without cutting it at all.
- Lemon juice: You can keep fresh lemon juice in the fridge for a few days without any diminished quality. After a few days, the juice is best used in cooking or baking (not a fresh lemonade). Use it up within two weeks or freeze the rest. Just pop the juice into ice cube trays, remove when frozen and store in a sealed container.
- Lemon wedges and slices: Like a halved lemon, lemon wedges and slices should be stored in a sealed container and used within the week.
- Lemon zest: Don’t throw out a lemon rind without zesting it first! Even if you don’t have an immediate need for lemon zest, keeping some on hand is always a good idea. A little zest livens up veggie sides and adds zip to baked goods. Use fresh lemon zest within a week. If you want to preserve it for longer, pop it in a sealed container in the freezer.
Now that you know the best way to keep lemons, it’s time to stock up on a few extras. I’ll be using mine to make this five-star poundcake.