Dinner is on the stove and you’re fairly certain that with a squeeze of citrus, it will be something spectacular. So you reach for a lemon and curse the gods: Your citrus is a desiccated disappointment. From salad to seafood, lemon juice can elevate almost any dish, making this yellow fruit our main squeeze. But it’s hard not to feel a bit sour when you find your once-fresh lemons are now, erm, lemons. Thankfully, you can avoid a culinary catastrophe with this simple hack for how to store lemons so they stay zesty and full of life for several weeks.
The Best Way to Store Lemons
When lemons are stored in the fridge, they last considerably longer than when stored on the countertop where they are likely to harden within a week—so assemble that still-life worthy display with some other fruit instead. The simplest way to store lemons in the refrigerator doesn’t involve much effort—just toss them loose in the crisper drawer and you’ll be able to cook with them for about three weeks. But is that the best method for storing lemons? The folks from America’s Test Kitchen thought not; then, they proved it.
These everyday culinary heroes conducted an experiment to test three popular storage methods for lemons: countertop, loose in the crisper drawer and bagged before refrigeration. Then, the food scientists weighed the citrus at regular intervals to determine which storage method produced the least amount of unwanted weight loss (i.e., dehydration). What were the results? Your refrigerated lemons can hang loose for a month, but they’ll stay plump and yield more zingy juice if you seal them in an airtight plastic storage bag before sending them off to a colder climate. The more you know.
Bottom line: To make the most of your fruit’s zesty flavor, seal lemons in a ziploc and then stash ‘em in your fridge. Using this tried-and-tested method, you’ll have up to four weeks to savor lemon's tantalizingly tart juice on anything you serve.
How to Store Cut Lemons
But what if you’ve already cut into a lemon? For optimal freshness, seal lemons slices or wedges in a plastic bag or saran wrap and store in the fridge for four more days of freshness.
Wait, Can You Freeze Lemons?
Yep, you sure can. To freeze whole lemons, place them in freezer bags and remove as much air as possible before sealing. Then when you’re ready to get your hands on that zesty juice, thaw lemons in cold water for 10 minutes, slice them up and squeeze. (Note: Freezing is best for extracting juice only.)
5 Things to Make (Besides Lemonade) out of All Those Lemons
Now that you know how to keep these fruits happy, you can confidently start buying lemons by the bushel. But when you pull ‘em out of storage, be sure to try out these recipes so your citrus really sings:
- Braised lemon chicken
- Delicata squash rings with garlic-lemon sauce
- Cold lemon zoodles
- Sheet-pan lemon butter veggies and sausage
- Lemon-tahini salad with lentils, beets and carrots