When life gives you lemons, give your lemons some life.
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Lemon halves
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Lemons are an ingredient seldom used all at once — recipes often only utilize the lemon's juice or zest, or a few wedges rather than the entire fruit, which undeniably leaves you with leftovers. But if you're not storing those extra lemon halves or leftover zest or juice properly, then you're cutting its life short. Read on for the best ways to store whole lemons, cut lemons, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

How to Store Lemons

The best way to store lemons is in an airtight container in the refrigerator — stored this way, whole, uncut lemons will last up to one month.

Alternatively, whole lemons can last on the countertop at room temperature for up to one week. They won't need to be placed in a container, but they should be kept away from fruits that release ethylene gas as they ripen, such as apples and bananas, so they won't ripen too quickly.

How to Store Cut Lemons

Tightly wrap cut lemons in plastic or food wrap, or store in an airtight container or zip-top bag and place them on a refrigerator shelf or in the crisper. Use within 3 to 4 days.

How to Store Lemon Juice

Store freshly-squeezed lemon juice in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. If you are using the lemon juice in a salad dressing or beverage, use it within 3 days. After 3 days, lemon juice is best used for cooking and baking.

How to Store Lemon Zest

Store lemon zest in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week.

How Long Do Lemons Last?

Whole lemons will last up to a week at room temperature or in the fridge. However, lemons will last up to one month when refrigerated and stored in an airtight container.

How to Tell If Lemons Are Bad

As they decompose, bad lemons will develop brown spots, become squishy and slimy or, if left out long enough, will grow mold on the rinds. Refrigerated lemons may shrivel up as they become dehydrated and develop brown spots and a squishy texture.

How to Freeze Lemons

  • Whole lemons: Stash whole lemons in an airtight container, such as a zip-top bag with the air squeezed out, before placing them in the freezer. Use within 4 months, and don't forget to label the container.
  • Cut lemons: Place cut lemons on a parchment-lined tray and freeze for an hour to prevent them from freezing to one another. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 months.
  • Lemon zest: Store lemon zest in an airtight container before placing it in the freezer. Use within 4 months.
  • Lemon juice: To freeze lemon juice, squeeze or pour lemon juice into an ice cube tray. Use within 4 months.

How to Thaw Lemons

Remove lemons, zest, or juice from the freezer and microwave for 15 to 20 seconds, or place in bowl of room-temperature water for 10 to 15 minutes.

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