How to Select, Store and Freeze Lemons and Limes

Store and freeze your lemons and limes at their optimum conditions for long lasting, fresh flavour and texture. Avoid dried, shrivelled lemons kept at room temperature or squishy, moldy lemons kept in the fridge. Here’s what you need to know.

mixed citrus fruit

When you find a good deal on tasty lemons follow these tips for how to select, store and freeze them. By the way, these tips apply to limes, oranges and pomelo too – all the citrus varieties.

Also Read: How to Best Zest and Juice Lemons & Limes, How to Make & Freeze Lemon Curd, Homemade Limoncello

How to Select the Best Lemons and Limes

Citrus fruit will NOT continue to ripen or sweeten after it is picked. As a result, the citrus fruit in grocery stores should be fully ripe, after all, it would be bad business for the grower and grocer if it’s not! You may see some green on the rinds, but this coloring is more a function of growing conditions than ripeness.

Knowing that ripeness is not the issue, your goal when selecting citrus is to find the freshest, sweetest and juiciest citrus. Here are some tips to help you achieve that goal:

1. Look for clear, blemish free rinds. 

2. Choose citrus that feels heavy compared to the fruits around it. The heavier, the juicier!

3. Choose fruit with a finely textured peel versus a thick, heavily dimpled peel. You’ll get more fruit and juice. In the photo below for example, choose the lime on the left. 

citrus peel
Pick fine texture over bumpy texture.

3. Avoid citrus with soft, tender spots or wrinkled skin. The rind should be evenly firm around the entire fruit. Only mandarins including tangerines and clementines should have a looser peel – that’s what makes them so easy to peel.

4. Smell the citrus and choose the ones with a strong, sweet smell.

citrus variety

How to Store Lemons, Limes and other Citrus

The good news is that citrus fruit stores quite well, if done properly.  If you like citrus – go ahead and buy that big bag. To store it well, keep only one or two on the counter to display and the rest in the fridge.

Room temperature citrus tastes a little sweeter, so it’s good to keep some in the fruit bowl, but for longer storage, keep them in the fridge.

On the Counter

Citrus will keep at room temperature for 5-7 days (depending on your air humidity).  A handful of oranges, tangerines and grapefruits in the fruit basket is great way to encourage healthy snacking.

In the Fridge

To keep fresh citrus fruit longer, store it in the refrigerator.  Place in mesh or plastic bag with top open. Make sure your fruit is completely dry. Do not wash before storing. Stored like this, citrus can last 2 to 3 weeks.

How to Store Cut Lemons or Limes

Wrap up cut lemons or limes and store in fridge for up to 5 days.

3 Ways to Freeze Lemons, Limes and other Citrus

Yes, you can freeze whole lemons and limes! At least for up to 3 months. After that, they start to get bitter.

Freeze Whole Lemons

  • Wash and scrub lemons well.
  • Dry well to ensure no moisture remains.
  • Place in airtight freezer container or bag. Remove as much air as possible. Freeze.
  • Use within 3 months.

Like my little lemon zester? I love it! It’s so much easier to use than a microplane or grater and it’s super affordable. If you want to buy it on Amazon, here’s a link for you.

lemon zester
My favourite lemon zester, so easy to use.

And if you liked my silicone freezer bag, I used my stasher bag in the video. They’re pricey, maybe you can find them on sale somewhere, but they are the best silicone bags I found. I bought a bunch at a super discount price – they were a total waste of money – in the set of 12, NONE of them would stay closed, they all popped open no matter how carefully I pressed them shut and how little I put in the bag. I sent them back and two years later have not received a refund. So, yeah, I paid a little more for the Stasher brand.

stasher silicone bag
Stasher brand silicone reusable bags. Pricey, but the seal works unlike other types I’ve tried.

Freeze Lemon Zest and Juice Separately

If you don’t think you’ll use whole frozen lemons within 3 months, it’s best to freeze the zest and juice separately. Frozen lemon juice in boiling hot water with a little ginger and honey does wonders for colds and sore throats.

  • Wash and scrub lemons well.
  • Zest and juice your citrus fruit.
  • Place zest and juice in separate airtight freezer containers or bags. Remove as much air as possible. Freeze.
  • Consider freezing the juice in an ice cube tray and then transferring to airtight freezer container. This is my favourite method. I like using the frozen lemon juice pucks with a bit of honey (infused honey) for hot lemon drinks when we have sore throats or need a soothing, warming drink in the winter – without the calories of hot cocoa!
  • Use within 12 months.

Freeze Peeled Citrus Fruit Segments

Peel, segment and place citrus in freezer bags and use within 3 months. This is a great method if you like oranges in your smoothies

Freeze Sliced or Quartered Citrus Fruit

Perfect for when you have extra lemon or lime wedges leftover after a party or taco dinner.

  • Just toss in an airtight freezer container or bag. Use within 3 months.
  • Use as ice cubes in your mocktails or cocktails, mixed beverages, sangria, or hot tea.
freezing lime juice and zest
Freeze zest and juice separately.

Favorite Citrus Recipes

Now that you’ve selected the tastiest citrus fruit, here are some tasty ways to use them.

Lemon Ricotta Scones

Lemon Curd

Berry & Lemon Muffins

Orange & Fennel Salad

Luscious Lime Bars

Lime, Corn & Cilantro Quinoa

Orange Pumpkin Loaf

Blood Orange and Tangerine Salad

Lemon Herb Seasoning

How to Peel & Segment a Honey Pomelo

Grapefruit and Granola Parfait

Homemade Orange Gelatin

Lemon & Tarragon Infused Vinegar

Orange and Celery Salad

lemons and limes

What’s your favourite way to use a bounty of lemons, limes or other citrus fruit? Have you tried freezing them? Leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram @getgettys and Facebook @GettyStewart.HomeEconomis

I’ve provided Amazon links for you to explore and be able to see the exact tools I’m talking about in this post. As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist,  speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas.  She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.

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