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Can You Freeze Lemons?

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By Ross Young

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

Lemons can add sour and bitter notes to sauces, bring zestiness to desserts and are essential in a G&T. But what do you do if you’ve bought a few too many? How should you go about storing them?

6 whole lemons spaced out

Can You Freeze Lemons?

Yes, you can freeze lemons for up to 3 months. You can freeze lemons whole or in slices. You can also freeze lemon zest or lemon juice on its own.

How to Freeze Lemons

For such a tiny ingredient, there are a number of ways lemons can be used. You can use them whole, you can cut them into wedges, you can juicr them and you can zest them.

Each of these lemeon forms will require a different approach to freezing. Fortunately, I’ve covered them all for you below:

How to Freeze Whole Lemons

If you’re looking for the quickest and easiest method for freezing lemons, this is it – it’s not the best method, however!

  1. Prepare Lemons for Freezing
    If you are freezing lemons whole then give them a quick scrub on the outside. You can also choose to cut them into halves and freeze lemon halves instead.
  2. Bag Up and Seal
    Take a sealable container or zip lock bag and place the lemons into the bag. As you close the bag, try and remove as much air as possible. Squeeze the air out of the bag from the bottom to the opening.
  3. Freeze
    All that’s left to do is to place the bag of lemons into the freezer to allow them to freeze solid. Try not to overfill the bag otherwise, they may stick to one another.

How to Freeze Lemon Slices

If you’re looking for the best way to freeze lemons then this is it. You’ll get some juice from them if that’s what you want and they’ll also retain a far amount of structure if you follow the full method:

  1. Slice Up
    First, slice your lemon up. You can slice it into full circles or half-moons depending on your preference.
Whole lemons on a chopping board with a woman's hands slicing one lemon into thin slices
  1. Freeze
    Now place the slices onto a baking tray and ensure none of the slices touches. If you were to put them all into a bag, they would freeze together into one large lemon-slice clump.
A woman holding a plastic tray of lemon slices
  1. Bag Up
    Once the slices have frozen, after several hours, remove them from the freezer then tip the contents of the tray into a bag and place them back in the freeze. Now that they have frozen they will not stick together, and you can remove one slice as and when you need it.
Lemon slices inside an open freezer bag being held by a woman's hands
  1. Freeze
    Finally, pop the bags of lemon slices into the freezer for around 3 months.
Frozen lemon slices spread out inside a sealed freezer bag.

How to Freeze Lemon Juice

Of course, one of the most popular ways to use lemons is for their juice. If you find you only use the juice of lemons, then don’t waste space freezing the flesh. Instead, stick to this method:

  1. Juice Lemons
    Of course, if you’re focussing on freezing lemon juice then the first step is to juice some lemons.
A yellow juice squeezing out the juice of lemons into a glass bowl
  1. Pour Into Ice Cubes
    Carefully pour the lemon juice into the slots of an ice cube tray. Try to find a suitable size tray with slots based on how you normally use lemon juice and leave room for some expansion.
A white ice cube tray on a wooden chopping board where eat slot of filled with lemon juice
  1. Freeze Cubes
    Move the tray to the freezer to allow the lemon juice cubes to freeze solid. You may want to wrap the ice cube tray in cling film to protect it.
Frozen cubes of lemon juice inside a while ice cube tray
  1. Bag Up and Freeze Again
    Once the cubes have frozen solid, pop them out of the ice cube tray and place them into a bag. Return this bag to the freezer for the long term.
Frozen cubes of lemon juice inside a seal freezer bag

How to Freeze Lemon Zest

This is my basic method for freezing lemon zest. If you want to create the ultimate citrus mix that’s perfect for cakes try to mix the zest of lemons, limes and oranges in one bag.

  1. Zest
    Before you do anything, zest the lemons into a bowl. If you’re going to go to the effort of freezing zest, make sure you zest 6 to 8 lemons to make it worthwhile.
  2. Bag Up
    Pop all the lemon zest into a resealable bag then seal the bag up, removing as much excess air as possible.
  3. Freeze
    Finally, pop the sealed bags into the freezer. After 30 minutes, you can give the bag a little shake to prevent all of the zest from clumping together.
Can You Freeze Whole Lemons?

Although you could freeze whole lemons, there is no point. They will take a long time to thaw and the centre will become increasingly mushy. Instead, freeze lemon halves, slices or zest.

How Long Can You Freeze Lemons?

Frozen lemons will retain their lemony flavour for three months.

They’ll still be fine to use after this but they won’t be as strong as they once were. The only exception is zest which you should try to use within one month of freezing.

How Long Do Lemons Last in the Fridge?

Lemons will keep for a long time in the fridge. Whole lemons will last for 3 weeks or so. If the lemon has been cut then it will only keep for 3 or 4 days.

How Do You Defrost Lemons?

Frozen zest can be sprinkled straight into the dish you’re cooking. The same can be said for slices of lemon if you’re using them to garnish a drink as they also act as ice to keep the drink cool.

When it comes to defrosting whole lemons for their juice, you can run the outside of the lemon under warm water until it has thawed out before slicing in half to extract the juice.

If you have frozen the lemon juice, you can either use the juice frozen (if using in smoothies or stews) or you’ll need to thaw it out if you’re looking to consume it without cooking (such as in salad dressings).

You’re best thawing juice in a bowl in the fridge overnight or just left on the worktop during the day.

Freeze Whole and Grate as Needed

Freeze your lemons whole, and grate the amount directly off the frozen lemon whenever you need lemon zest. The resulting zest will be finer, making it blend into your dishes more easily. You avoid defrosting and refreezing this way.

Can You Refreeze Lemons?

You can refreeze your lemons, but we’d recommend you don’t. The bulk of lemon and its flavour comes from the juice. But every time you defrost a lemon, you pull out a little of this moisture. When you lose moisture, you lose flavour.

What’s the point of having a lemon that doesn’t taste of… Well, lemon.

It’s also worth noting that you’ll lose some nutrients every time you defrost the lemon.

Instead, try only to thaw out the amount of lemon you need at a given time to avoid having to refreeze your lemons in the first place.

Do Lemons Freeze Well?

Lemons do freeze fairly well if you want to use them for flavour, zest and/or juice. The texture of the flesh will degrade quite dramatically when frozen, however.

What happens to lemons when you freeze them depends on the form in which you have frozen them. If you freeze juice or zest, then not a lot happens as they freeze particularly well.

Problems arise when you freeze lemons whole, in halves or in slices. You’ll find the texture breaks down dramatically. The overall texture will become mushy and slimy so will only be good for flavour.

So, our verdict is that both fresh and frozen are great for you and both are pretty tasty. You will need to consider how you plan on using the lemons, if frozen, however.

What Happens When You Freeze Lemons?

If you pop whole lemons into the freezer, the juice inside will freeze and expand. The result is, once thawed, the internal structure of the lemon turns to mush.

At this stage, the lemons are only decent enough for their zest or for their juice. But, then freezing the lemon whole is not the most efficient use of space if you only want them for their zest and juice.


We have verified the information on this page using the following resources:

The Kitchn

Taste of Home

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