Can lemon juice go bad in the fridge?

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question “Can lemon juice go bad in the fridge?”

Can lemon juice go bad in the fridge?

Yes, lemon juice can go bad in the fridge if not properly stored. Because lemon juice oxidizes, bacteria penetrate the juice. (1)

Even unopened lemon juice goes bad. The sugars in the juice eventually convert into alcohol and CO2. (1)

How Long Does Lemon Juice Last?

The speed at which it degrades depends on whether it is freshly squeezed or purchased and packaged. Fresh juice spoils quicker than bottled juice.

Juice of Fresh Lemons

Freshly squeezed lemon juice can go bad too. If kept refrigerated, freshly squeezed lemon juice lasts for about 6 days and can last for 12 months if frozen. (2). Freshly squeezed lemon juice can go bad pretty quickly when left at room temperature.

Bottled Lemon Juice 

Because bottled lemon juice is loaded with preservatives, an unopened bottle will last for not more than 12-18 months. As for opened lemon juice, the contents are safe to consume within 2 months. (2)

It is also important to note that properly stored and unopened lemon juice is usually safe to consume even after the expiry date, as long as it does not show any signs of spoilage.

What are the factors that influence lemon juice spoilage and expiration?

The main factors that cause lemon juice to spoil are exposure to air, light, room temperature, enzymatic activity, and microbial growth.

The exposure to oxygen triggers the degradation of ascorbic acid and the non-enzymic browning of lemon juice. (4)

Flavor and color are affected by the degradation of ascorbic acid, and this is the major deteriorative reaction that takes place during the storage of lemon juice. (3)

The microorganisms that can proliferate into lemon juice are the ones that have a high tolerance to acid and those that are osmophilic. (5)

How to properly store Lemon Juice?

Here are some recommendations for properly storing lemon juice

  1. An unopened container or unrefrigerated lemon juice should be stored in a cool and dark place away from heat sources like sunlight or a stovetop.
  2. After opening the container, it must be kept in the fridge with a tight seal.
  3. Lemon juice that is sold refrigerated should be kept in the fridge at all times and tightly sealed.
  4. Homemade lemon juice squeezed out of fresh lemons must be placed in the refrigerator to preserve its freshness, and shouldn’t be left sitting out for more than 2 hours. (6) 

How to spot spoiled lemon juice?

To find out if lemon juice is spoiled, you should look at three things: its appearance, its odor, and how it tastes. If it has become dull or darker in color, it should be thrown away. Also, if the scent or flavor has changed considerably, proceed in the same way.

Even though lemon juice is a highly acidic substance, it is susceptible to deterioration and, if left unprotected, degrades rapidly, especially when stored at room temperature. (2)

How to extend the shelf life of lemon juice?

An appropriate storage temperature is the main factor for extending the shelf life of lemon juice. The shelf life of natural, fresh orange juices stored at room temperature, refrigeration, and freezing temperatures are totally different.

Freshly squeezed lemon juice should be consumed as soon as possible for its nutritional value and fresh taste, otherwise, it should be refrigerated and shouldn’t be left sitting out for more than 2 hours. (6) 

The commercial-packed lemon juice that has been sterilized, and contains preservatives to prolong its shelf life, can be stored at room temperature until open.  (8,9,10)

Once the pack has been opened, it should be stored at refrigeration temperature and it may last long for a few days. 

The shelf life of lemon juice can be further extended by freezing it. Freezing has its own pros and cons. It might deteriorate the quality of juice, but that can be restored almost fully by proper mixing/shaking so the pulp and water unite. 

Frozen storage of freshly squeezed lemon juice results in a longer shelf life than refrigerated. However, once thawed, the orange juice has a refrigerated shelf life of 2 months. (2)

Freezing is recommended for long-term storage as frozen orange juice may last up to several months if stored properly. 

The best way to defrost the frozen juice is by refrigerating it, but if you thaw it by microwaving it or putting it in lukewarm water try to consume it immediately.

What are the risks of consuming expired lemon juice?

According to the FDA, drinking spoiled lemon juice can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, and body aches (7).

Consuming dangerous foodborne bacteria will usually cause illness within 1 to 3 days of eating the contaminated food. (7)

It is also important to note that properly stored and unopened lemon juice is usually safe to consume even after the expiry date, as long as it does not show any signs of spoilage.


In this brief article, we answered the question “Can lemon juice go bad in the fridge?”


  1. National Library of Medicine. National Center of Biotechnology Information. Fruit Juice Spoilage by Alicyclobacillus: Detection and Control Methods – A Comprehensive Review. Foods. 2022 Mar; 11(5): 747. 
  2. United States Department of Agriculture. Food Keeper.
  3. Al-Zubaidy, M. M., & Khalil, R. A. (2007). Kinetic and prediction studies of ascorbic acid degradation in normal and concentrate local lemon juice during storage. Food Chemistry, 101(1), 254-259. 
  4. ROBERTSON, G. L., & SAMANIEGO, M. L. (1986). Effect of Initial Dissolved Oxygen Levels on the Degradation of Ascorbic Acid and the Browning of Lemon Juice during Storage. Journal of Food Science, 51(1), 184-187. 
  5. Aneja, K. R., Dhiman, R., Aggarwal, N. K., & Aneja, A. (2013). Emerging Preservation Techniques for Controlling Spoilage and Pathogenic Microorganisms in Fruit Juices. International Journal of Microbiology, 2014
  6. Fellers, P.J., Shelf life and quality of freshly squeezed, unpasteurized, polyethylene-bottled citrus juice. Journal of food science: an official publication of the Institute of Food Technologists 1988 v. 53 no. 6 pp.
  7. Food and Drug Administration. What you need to know about juice safety. 
  8. Bates, R.P., Morris, J.R., Crandall, P.G. Principles and practices of small – and medium – scale fruit juice processing. FAO Agricultural Services. Chapter 8.
  9. Sindhu, R., Singh Khatkar, B. Preservation and storage of Lemon (Citrus Limon) Juice. International Journal of Advanced Engineering Research and Science. 
  10. Yang, J. Preparing Shelf-Stable Citrus Juice and Drinks at Home. College of Natural & Applied Sciences. University of Guam.