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Freezing Fresh Lemon Juice and Lime Juice: How and Why I Do It

Freezing Fresh Lemon Juice and Lime Juice is one of my favorite kitchen tricks, and it helps me use every lemon in those big bags you get at Costco!

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Freezing Fresh Lemon Juice and Lime Juice found on KalynsKitchen.comFrom time to time, readers write to me with cooking questions, which I do sheepishly try to answer, reminding them that I’m pretty much a self-taught cook, and might be breaking all kind of kitchen rules. One question that I’ve gotten more than once is “Can I use bottled lemon (or lime) juice in this recipe?” to which my answer is an emphatic “NO!”

In my mind, the overly sour and artificial flavor of bottled lime or lemon juice is no substitute for the subtle, fresh, and slightly sour-citrus flavor of fresh lemon or lime juice. 

However, keeping fresh lemons and limes around all the time can be problematic. Okay, if you live in Florida or California, or other warm parts of the world, you may be able to just quit reading now. But if you live in a place where fresh limes and lemons are not only hard to keep, but also very expensive at certain times of the year, then this tip for Freezing Fresh Lemon Juice and Lime Juice might be life-changing for you. 

By freezing lemon and lime juice I manage to have a supply of almost-as-good-as fresh lemon and lime juice on hand at all times. I’m always on the lookout for a good deal on lemons or lime at the grocery store, but most of the year I buy those big bags at Costco, keep them in a basket on the counter, and then just before they’re starting to go bad I have a juice-squeezing session.

At first this seemed so obvious to me that I wondered if it was even blog-worthy, but after I shared the idea with a few different women who told me it was brilliant, I decided others might also like hearing about it.

Freezing Fresh Lemon Juice and Lime Juice found on KalynsKitchen.comI cut the limes in half like the photo you see above, and use this citrus squeezer I got many years ago as a gift from my wonderful sister-in-law Lisa. (Edit 2015: I recently bought a Cuisinart Citrus Juicer and now I use that if I have a lot of fruit to juice, love it!)

Freezing Fresh Lemon Juice and Lime Juice found on KalynsKitchen.comA funnel is your friend when you’re doing this job, because you don’t want to spill any of the precious juice, especially from limes which can sometimes be surprisingly not that juicy.

Freezing Fresh Lemon Juice and Lime Juice found on KalynsKitchen.comUnless they’re quite small, I cut the lemons in quarters, not only so they fit in the citrus squeezer better, but also so I can squeeze out every drop of juice. I love the way this squeezer catches the seeds!

Freezing Fresh Lemon Juice and Lime Juice found on KalynsKitchen.comOnce again, the funnel is your friend for this job. Even with a funnel, it looks like I spilled some of the precious lemon juice on my cutting board.

Freezing Fresh Lemon Juice and Lime Juice found on KalynsKitchen.comAnd here’s the reward for about 10 minutes of squeezing, or maybe more if you have to squeeze by hand. Lime and lemon juice will keep in the freezer for several months.

To use the juice, I try to let it thaw naturally by removing the bottle from the freezer an hour or so before I need it for a recipe and just letting it sit on the counter. When that doesn’t work out, you can thaw in the microwave on a low temperature. Be careful not to let the juice get too warm when you’re thawing it or the flavor starts to break down. (Edit, thanks to Michelle who asked in the comments about glass bottles in the freezer, which reminded me to caution you not to put the bottle with the frozen juice under hot water to thaw, or the glass may crack.)

You can also measure out the amount of liquid one compartment of an ice cube tray holds, freeze the juice in that, and then pop out the cubes and store in a ziploc bag. This method is especially handy because you already know how much one cube is, so no need to measure!

Some Favorite Recipes with Fresh Lime Juice:
Turkey Lettuce Wrap Tacos

Cilantro-Lover’s Perfect Guacamole

Avocado, Tomato, Edamame, and Red Onion Salad with Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette

Roasted Butternut Squash with Lime and Rosemary

Black Bean and Pepper Salad with Cilantro and Lime

Black Bean and Tomatillo Soup with Lime and Cilantro

Chipotle-Lime Deviled Eggs

Turkey and Sweet Potato Soup with Black Beans and Lime

Summer Tomato Salad with Avocado, Tuna, Cilantro, and Lime

Vegan Tomato Salad with Cucumber, Avocado, Cilantro, and Lime

Some Favorite Recipes with Fresh Lemon Juice:
Pan-Fried Asparagus Tips with Lemon Juice and Lemon Zest

Middle Eastern Bean Salad with Parsley and Lemon

Chopped Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Mint, Feta, Lemon, and Thyme

Carrot and Parsley Salad

Roasted Butternut Squash with Lemon, Thyme, and Parmesan

Roasted Broccoli with Lemon and Pecorino-Romano Cheese

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Lemon and Capers

Market Street Grill Creamy Cucumber Sauce for Fish

Very Greek Grilled Chicken

Middle Eastern Tomato Salad

Are you a fan of using lime juice or lemon juice in cooking like I am? Let us know in the comments about your favorite way to use it!
Freezing Fresh Lemon Juice and Lime Juice found on KalynsKitchen.com
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88 comments on “Freezing Fresh Lemon Juice and Lime Juice: How and Why I Do It”

  1. Soulknitting, no problem! I just haven’t found a good brand of bottled fresh juice here.

  2. Great idea to freeze freshly squeezed juice. I live in South Florida, so getting fresh limes this time of year is not a problem for me, and fresh lime juice is great, and right now not too sour either. I agree the bottled juice is very sour by comparison.

    I love to make an iced green tea and add the juice of a whole lime, no sugar needed. It's about as refreshing as you can get in my opinion.

  3. Tony, I am LOVING the idea of iced green tea with lime. Going to try that right now.

  4. I had never thought of this and I think it is a great idea!! 😀

  5. I juice oranges and grapefruits and fill up plastic juice bottles and freeze them – fresh juice year around!! I usually get tons of free oranges and grapefruits, especially if I am willing to pick them, twice a year. Live in AZ where there is an abundance of citrus trees! Just got a box of lemons today, so thanks for the tips on freezing lemon juice. We use it to make lemonade, so smaller containers will be better. Or I may just throw the whole fruit in the freezer:-)

  6. Dolphin Lady, lucky you to have all that fresh citrus juice. That must be lovely to have in the freezer.

  7. I knew you it! I was meant to find your blog to find brilliant tips such as freezing fresh juice. lol Seriously, thanks for posting this. Definitely a valuable idea. 🙂

  8. Just found your lovely site while researching info about freezing fresh lime juice. I live in Orlando; last year planted a key lime (aka Mexican lime) tree that was small enough to fit in the my car's back seat. Miraculously it's 4 times the size now and has produced hundreds of delicious limes. Thought small, their flavor is intense with lots of juice. Thank you so much for your recipes & freezing tips which I'll include when I give them away to family & friends. Now there won't be any waste!

  9. Murph, lucky you. I would love to have a lime tree! Glad it was useful for you.

  10. If you have a favorite lemon meringue pie recipe, just use a muffin tin to freeze premeasured amounts of lemon juice for your recipe. Once the juice is frozen, invert the muffin tin on your counter, lay a hot cloth on top of it until the lemon juice 'muffins' fall out, then throw them all in a zippered plastic bag to freeze for use later.

  11. Good idea to use a muffin tin to get a pre-measured amount! I do that with pesto but hadn't thought of it with lemon and lime juice.

  12. In trying to move to a more real/whole foods diet this post has come in handy. I used to buy the bottled "Real Lemon" brand of juice, primarily to put in my tea and for lemon water. I like the idea of using real squeezed lemon but the inconvenience of needing fresh lemons on hand was daunting. Now I'll be able to freeze it in the amounts I want, which will have the added benefit of cooling off my hot tea to a drinkable level quicker as I plop in a lemon ice cube. 🙂

  13. The question is: how to freeze lemon juice. The problem is is that lemon juice does not freeze like ice. So, how do you do it without compromising a recipe. Any ideas?

  14. I've been using frozen and thawed lemon and lime juice in recipes for many, many years and haven't ever felt it was a problem.

  15. Just wanted to say that I don't want to see bottled lemon juice disappear from the grocery shelves. It's the best de-mineralizer for the toilet and shower!!

  16. Instead of using a jar, how about a ziplock bag? That way, you can store it flat in your freezer, and it should be pretty easy to break off a chunk of the frozen juice to use in a recipe. I haven't tried it yet, but it makes sense to me!

  17. GaKaye, I like to be able to put the jar in the microwave and melt a little, but there is no reason you couldn't store it in a bag if you're not doing that.

  18. Great post Kalyn! I've been freezing citrus juices in ice cube trays then putting them into ziplock freezer bags for years. Each ice cube compartment holds about 2 tablespoons of juice; good for when you want to thaw just a prescribed amount. I LOVE your citrus squeezer!!! 🙂

  19. I freeze the juice from my Meyer Lemons from the back yard tree in ice cube trays and pop the frozen ones into freezer bags. The tree produces two crops of fruit a year and the juice lasts me from one crop to the next!

  20. Tami, lucky you to have a lemon tree!

  21. I'm going to try freezing the juice in ice cube trays then putting that in a freezer bag…what do you think?

  22. Tracy, I think that will work just fine.

  23. I freeze mine in ice cube trays, 2 or 3 TBSP per cube, then i have what i will need. 🙂 thanks for the suggestion of freezing zest never thought of that one. 🙂

  24. Love all these posts about freezing the lemon or lime juice. An interesting story about me making a lemon pie for this past Easter. This was the first time making it from scratch with natural lemons for the juice. My pie would not set and we all ate the pie with spoons..ha,ha. A friend asked me if I put too much lemon juice in it. I did, thinking it would be extra lemony. The pie did not set because of too much acidity. Who knew?

  25. how long does this take

    • Squeezing the lemons or limes takes 10-15 minutes if you have one of those big bags of lemons from Costco; the freezing time depends on how cold your freezer is, but I'd guess it takes 4-5 hours to be fully frozen.

  26. I might have missed it, but how long does it last in the freezer?

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  30. After squeezing the limes pour into ice cube or candy trays.
    Ice cube tray size can vary, but standard trays usually hold one ounce in each cube well (this is the same as 2 tablespoons).
    That way you can freeze it and either keep it in a tray in the freezer covered or after frozen break the cubes free and put them into ziplock freezer bags and return to freezer.
    As needed take out only what you need from the ziplock bag instead of having to wait on thawing the jar to get what you require.

  31. This is what I am about to do…I just bought my lemons and ready to freeze the juice, but I have a question. Is it possible to freeze the zest in the juice. or maybe separate? Thanks for the inspiration!

    • I am fortunate to have 4 huge lemon trees in my yard but fruit trees are seasonal so only get fruit once a year.
      Last year I had over 3000 lemons but they are not a popular item where I live so had trouble giving them away.
      About 2000 went back to the ground. I love lemons and spend hours searching for recipes and home cleaning solutions. During the season my house is lemony fresh and I am sure my body odour is also lemony fresh. Anyhow, most of my recipes also call for zest. I take the whole lemon and place in freezer bag and freeze until needed. I then zest whilst frozen and then thaw and juice. They keep in freezer without deterioration for about 10 months.

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