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 or lime in those big bags you get at Costco!
From 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!” That’s when I start telling them all the reasons they should be Freezing Fresh Lemon Juice and Lime Juice!
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.
Why I love Freezing Fresh Lemon Juice and Lime Juice:
First and foremost, 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 my tips 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.
Squeezing Fresh Lime Juice:
I 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!)
Squeezing Fresh Lemon Juice:
Unless 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:
And 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. Some readers expressed concern about using glass jars, and you shouldn’t fill them too full, but I’ve never had one break in the freezer. You can also freeze the juice in an ice cube tray if you prefer, then pop out the cubes and store in a ZipLoc bag. Measure the amount of one cube and that makes them easy to use in recipes.
How to Use the Frozen Fresh Lemon and Lime Juice:
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.)
If you have cubes that were frozen in an ice cube tray, just thaw them in a small dish, either on the counter or in the microwave.
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? Let us know in the comments about your favorite way to use it!