How to Store Lemons the Right Way

Tired of finding dried lemons in the crisper? Find out how to store lemons so you can keep them fresher for longer.

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. It’s always disappointing since that fruit could have been part of a cool Chilton cocktail after a long work week.

So what’s the best way to store lemons to keep them fresher for longer?

How to Store Lemons

Whole lemons

Whole lemons are best kept in the fridge. 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 temperature, lemons will dry out, leaving you with less juice and a tough rind.

You can also freeze whole lemons. Once solid, pop them into a sealed container for best results. Defrost the lemons at room temperature.

Lemons that have been frozen won’t taste exactly the same as a fresh lemon, so use them for baking or cooking—not for your favorite lemon martini.

Half a lemon

If you’ve sliced into a lemon (or lime), you can definitely preserve the rest of it. Used just half a lemon? Cover the exposed end with food wrap or put the whole thing in a sealed container. Use it within a few days.

Lemon wedges

Like a halved lemon, lemon wedges and slices should be stored in a sealed container and used within a few days.

How to Store Lemon Zest and Juice

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. (This is how to zest a lemon.) A little zest livens up vegetable sides and adds zip to baked goods. Use fresh lemon zest within a week. If you want to preserve it for longer, store it in a sealed container in the freezer.

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. Pour the juice into ice cube trays, then remove them from the trays when frozen and store in a sealed container.

Tips for Buying and Storing Lemons

What should you look for when choosing lemons?

Like any fresh fruit, look for lemons that are free from bruises, soft spots and any noticeable scars. A good lemon is vivid yellow and will have a little bit of give when squeezed.

What fruits shouldn’t be stored with lemons?

Similar to onions and potatoes, there are some fruit combinations that shouldn’t be stored together. Don’t store apples, bananas, stone fruit or pears with other types of fruits, including lemons. Certain fruits emit a gas as they age that can cause other fruit to ripen (and then spoil) more quickly. To keep lemons as fresh as possible, keep them in the crisper on their own or with other citrus fruits.

Do lemons last longer in the fridge or on the counter?

Lemons are best kept in the fridge. Stashed in the fridge in the crisper drawer or on a shelf, fresh lemons will keep for two weeks or more. If you really want your lemons to last, keep them in a sealed container (there are even specialty produce keepers for this purpose) or a resealable plastic bag. This extra step will prevent lemons from drying out and keep them fresh for a month.

If you really want to store your lemon on the counter, use it within four to five days. The same advice applies to limes.

Can you store lemons in water?

If you’ve ever tried storing fresh herbs in water, then you might be wondering whether storing lemons in water could produce the same results. It turns out, submerging lemons in water and refrigerating them can help them last for one to three months.

Now that you know how to store lemons, it’s time to stock up on a few extra. I’ll be using mine to make these lemon-basil recipes followed by a lemon sour cream poundcake.

Our Favorite Lemon Recipes from Sweet to Savory
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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.