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Kalyn's Kitchen

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!

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Freezing Fresh Lemon Juice and Lime Juice found on KalynsKitchen.com

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:

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.

Squeezing Fresh Lemon Juice:

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:

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. 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!

Freezing Fresh Lemon Juice and Lime Juice found on KalynsKitchen.com

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90 comments on “Freezing Fresh Lemon Juice and Lime Juice: How and Why I Do It”

  1. good idea! I’ve done this before, too so that I wouldn’t waste any lemons before going out of town. good to know I’m not the only super-frugal person! The juice comes in handy since my husband really likes homemade hummus.

  2. Cynthia, would not have guessed that even in a warm climate, limes and lemons can be expensive.

    Hilary, me too.

    Katrina, don’t waste those expensive lemons!

    Lydia, love the idea of using the lemon “cubes” for iced tea!

    FabFrugalFood, this changed my cooking life.

    Rachael, I don’t think I’ve seen the bottled juice that is pure lemon juice, so I’m talking about the ones that are artificial tasting. Will look for the pure lemon juice products, but haven’t seen anything like that here.

  3. While I totally agree that freezing fresh juice is best (and you can zest them first and freeze that too!) I also have to respectfully disagree about using bottled juice. If it is pure lemon juice there is really no noticeable difference, in my opinion! xoxo

  4. I am humbled.

    I cannot believe I haven’t been doing this! Believe me, I will start immediately! Like Lydia, I like the idea of freezing them in trays and then transferring them to ziplocs.

    That squeezer DOES look great! I’ve found that I like my citrus reamer best, but if I had that gadget I’d definitely try it.

  5. Inspired! I like to freeze lemon juice in ice cube trays, then I bag and freeze the cubes. I use them for iced tea all year long, but I think you could also use them for something stronger…

  6. Great ideam Kalyn – and your readers brought up a few I’d never heard of, like freezing them whole. I need to do this – I’m always leaving half-lemons in the fridge……..

  7. Thanks for this tip! I agree with the first commenter that artificial lemon juice does not taste nearly as good!

  8. Even though I live in a warm climate all year round, I still squeeze and store lime and lemon juice because when it is not in season the prices are outrageous and then there are times when it’s scarce. Barbados imports limes and lemons.

  9. I keep missing people who are writing comments at the same time I am! Maris, agree 100%. I never buy it, but I bet it would make a good cleaner.

  10. I appreciate the interest in this topic. However I can’t let people leave links for other types of lemon juice and lime juice products, even when they’re well intended. If I start to allow that, my comments will be over-run with people leaving “advertising” links.

  11. CJ, others have mentioned that too, good idea.

    Tamara, sounds fun! I’ll look for the Ikea shapes.

    Mark, glad you like the idea.

    Karina, no more wasting limes. They’re too precious to waste.

    Dazzlyn, thanks for the tips.

  12. In addition to nuking the fruit for a few seconds to help get out more juice; after that roll it around on the counter with the palm of your hand applying a little bit of pressure. that helps break down the tissue and you can get a little more juice.

  13. Totally agree! I use Real Lemon to clean my microwave – I don’t even think of it as edible!

  14. This is a fabulous post, Kalyn. I have (too many times) lost a bag of limes because I waited too long to use them. Now I’ll know enough to rescue the juice before it’s too late.

  15. This is a project my 10-year-old and I do frequently to keep citrus bought on sale. The ice cube tray is the best idea yet because of portion control. We also use them (frozen in fun shapes from trays we got at IKEA) in drinks for a little zip.

  16. Jbug, we were cross commenting! Great suggestions for other uses. Lucky you to have all that lovely juice!

  17. Don’t forget to zest them and freeze that too.

    from-
    citrus lover CJ

  18. Cookin’ Canuck, you’ll love having the fresh juice in the freezer, I promise!

    Anonymous, I do freeze wine too, and you’re right, it’s a great thing to have a small bit of for a recipe.

    Kevin, true! This is where it’s nice to have two freezers.

    Anonymous, another commenter also talked about that. I’ve done it a few times, but usually I forget.

    Cafe Cyan, love that squeezer!

    Michelle, never had a problem with glass in the freezer. Thanks for the reminder though, because that’s why you shouldn’t use hot water to defrost the juice. I’ll add that to the post.

  19. Great idea & the ice cube trays work perfectly. I too have frozen citrus whole and it works great for when cooking pork for carnitas.I live in one of those sunny climates and believe me, when we've a surplus you've just got to find a way to keep the extras. Needless to say as well as freezing we've got marmalade,limoncello,preserved kumpquats and the list goes on…

  20. This is a fanstastic idea! I have one question though, is a glass bottle okay to put into the freezer? It won’t crack?

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