If you’re like me, I use lemons all the time. I’ll add them to my water and use them for cooking. For this reason I’ll purchase many at the same time. Having so many, I don’t want to risk throwing them away, so I’ll store them in the freezer. Many food items last a long time frozen but did you ever wonder, how long can you freeze lemons?
Lemons can last up to four months frozen in the freezer. It’s critical to remove as much air as possible from the freezer bag or container to maximize the storage time. Lemons can be frozen whole, sliced or juiced.
In this article, I’ll discuss not only how long lemons last but more importantly, how to do it correctly. In addition, I’ll inform you about five different ways lemons can be frozen.
Smoothie Tip: Adding frozen lemon ice cubes, enhances the flavor and nutrient content. In addition, I routinely add pomegranate juice to my smoothies along with green vegetable juice. The secret to an easy smoothie is having a blender powerful enough to handle the workload.
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Disclaimer: Some of links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
How Long Can You Freeze Lemons?
Because lemons are used in so many dishes and drinks, they run out quickly. This is why it is recommended you always buy the very large bag of lemons in your produce section.
To avoid this most likely situation, you’ll want to know, how to keep lemons last longer? You can keep lemons last longer by freezing them for up to four months. It’s best to place them into plastic freezer bags with as much air removed from the bag. Lemons can be frozen whole, sliced, wedged or as juice.
Can You Freeze Unripe Lemons?
Unripe lemons can be frozen for up to four months. The unripe lemon should be placed into a freezer bag. As much air as possible should be removed from the bag. An unripe lemon will not ripen in the freezer.
Some people want to use unripe lemons and freezing them will preserve them for a longer time before they turn and go bad.
The Best Way To Freeze Lemons
In this section, we are taking a look at the five best ways to freeze lemons. Following these methods will help you freeze your lemons so they will last as long as possible.
How To Freeze Sliced Lemons
One of the best ways to freeze lemons is to cut them into half-inch slices. The frozen slices are a good way to flavor your water or drinks. In addition, a frozen slice of lemon is great to place into a cup of hot tea. This helps to cool it down while you’re waiting for a cup of hot tea with lemon. To freeze a lemon slice, follow these steps:
- Slice the lemons into your preferred thickness. Most people make 1/2” slices.
- Place the lemon slices onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Place the tray into the freezer until the slices are completely frozen.
- Place the frozen slices into a freezer bag or airtight container. Remove as much excess air as possible.
- Write the date on the bag or container and store the frozen slices in the freezer for up to four months.
To remove as much air as possible from the freezer bag, it’s best to use a vacuum sealer. If you don’t have a sealer, squeeze as much air out as possible. Then use a straw to suck the remaining air out through a small hole before closing it completely 5.
A vacuum sealer is one of those items you’d wonder how you did without after purchasing one. They sell a variety of affordable ones on Amazon which you can check out by clicking here, vacuum sealers.
If using a container, leave a 1/2 inch of space at the top of the container. Use Tupperware specifically for freezing. They’re listed on Amazon which you can check out right here, food storage containers.
How To Freeze Lemon Wedges
Another great idea is to freeze lemon wedges. Wedges can be used for drinks similar to slices. In addition, if you plan on squeezing out the juice, a wedge is more ideal than a thinner slice. The steps are the same as with slices. Follow these steps to freeze lemon wedges:
- Slice the lemons into your preferred thickness of wedge.
- Place the lemon wedges onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Place the tray into the freezer until the wedges are completely frozen.
- Place the frozen wedges into a freezer bag or airtight container. Remove as much excess air as possible.
- Write the date on the bag or container and store the frozen wedges in the freezer for up to four months.
If you’re curious how long lemons can last in the refrigerator prior to freezing. I wrote a whole blog post on the topic which you can check out right here, A Guide to Lemon Storage – Refrigerator Or Counter?
How To Freeze Lemons Whole
Another way to freeze lemons is to freeze them whole 6. This is the most obvious method. Freezing them whole is great if you plan on using the lemons for juice.
In fact, if you plan on using lemons for juice, it’s better to freeze them whole because of what happens to them when frozen. We’ll get into that later on in this article.
When you freeze lemons whole, follow these three steps:
- Place the whole lemons into a freezer bag.
- Remove as much excess air as possible and seal the bag.
- Date the bag and store the whole lemons in the freezer for up to four months.
How To Freeze Lemons In Ice Cube Trays
This is a nifty little trick although it does require some time to prepare. With that said, once you have gone through all the prep work, it will make everything more convenient when you want to use the lemon juice 7. Lemon ice cubes can be used in drinks, water or hot tea. In addition, the frozen juice can be used for cooking.
- Use a juicer to squeeze the most amount of juice out of the lemon.
- Pour the lemon juice into a measuring cup or similar device with a spout for pouring.
- Pour the juice into the ice cube tray.
- Place the tray into the freezer until frozen.
- Store the frozen lemon juice ice cubes for up to four months.
Freezing Lemon Zest
Some recipes or dishes you don’t even know you’re going to make yet, may require a lemon zest. Having some on hand whenever you need it is ideal. Freezing it for long-term storage is the best way to have it fresh and ready to use.
Follow these steps to make lemon zest and freezing it:
- Wash and dry the whole lemon.
- Remove the zest with a peeler or zester. Be careful and only remove the skin and not the white pith.
- Place the zest in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking tray.
- Place the tray into the freezer until the zest is completely frozen.
- Place the frozen zest into plastic freezer bags and remove as much excess air as possible.
- Date the bag and store the frozen zest for up to six months.
What Happens When You Freeze A Lemon
When you freeze a lemon tiny ice crystals form on the inside. The ice crystals break down the lemon at the cellular level. This makes the inside of the lemon mushy when it’s defrosted.
When you freeze anything with liquid inside of it, the liquid will form tiny ice crystals. These ice crystals will break down a lemon at the cellular level. Once the crystals form, they are extremely sharp to the soft tissue of the lemon 8 .
The freezing affects the entire lemon. When you freeze them whole, they will become very mushy. Therefore, they won’t be great to be used as lemon slices or wedges once defrosted.
This is one of the reasons why it’s recommended to pat the lemon dry after you cut it into slices or wedges. It’s not stopping the crystals from forming, but it will minimize, to some extent, the number of crystals that form.
Therefore, you could say that freezing lemons will make it a lot easier to extract the lemon juice once you have thawed the lemon. The longer you keep the lemon frozen, the mushier it will be when you thaw them.
Read Next – More Food Storage
- Ohio State University Extension: Refrigerator Storage
- Glad: How to Store and Freeze Lemons to Last
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The fading distinctions between classical patterns of ripening in climacteric and non-climacteric fruit and the ubiquity of ethylene-An overview
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Fruits that Continue to ripen After They’re Picked
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: Freezing Mushrooms
- Colorado State University Extension: Food Storage for Safety and Quality
- Fresh Direct: Citrus
- Ohio State University Extension: Food Preservation: Freezing Fruits