When you buy a bottle of lime juice, chances are you don’t usually use it all. But quite often than not, you try to consume the leftover juice as soon as possible to keep it from going bad. So, does lime juice really go bad? Can you still use it past its ‘best-by’ date? Let’s find out!
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Does Lime Juice Go Bad?
As with all juices, lime juice (whether store-bought or homemade) can go bad. However, off-the-shelf lime juice does not spoil easily, thanks to the added preservatives. It can last a long time even after the bottle has been opened.
Lime juice has, in fact, been found to last longer than its popular sister, orange juice. The reason is that lime juice is highly acidic. Now, any acidic environment will make it difficult for bacteria to thrive, enabling the juice to have a longer shelf life. However, the product’s quality does deteriorate over time.
As such, most manufacturers recommend consuming the product before the ‘best by’ date. But that doesn’t mean drinking it past this date is unsafe; it only means the quality will be terrible.
How Long Does Lime Juice Last?
While most juices require to be finished within a couple days of breaking the seal, lime juice retains its quality for months after it has been opened. In fact, it can stay good for quite a while even past the ‘best-by’ date.
Most brands will advise finishing the bottle as soon as possible when opened after the marked date, but for the most part, lime juice will maintain its quality for a little longer, sometimes for up to a year after its ‘best-by date’.
Homemade lime juice is a totally different story altogether. Because it is not pasteurized or preserved with additives, it spoils quickly and its quality degrades much faster, Thus, it should be used within a few days, five days at max.
This chart summarizes the lifespan of lime juice to help you consume the product at its best.
|Type of Lime Juice||Lifespan|
|Unopened, store-bought lime juice||3 to 6 months after ‘best-by’ date||N/A|
|Opened, store-bought lime juice||Not recommended||6 months to 1 year after opening or ‘best-by’ date|
|Homemade lime juice||Not recommended||3 to 5 days|
4 Tips to Tell if Lime Juice Has Gone Bad
First off, let’s keep in mind that if lime juice is not stored in the fridge, especially in areas with relatively high temperatures, it will go rancid pretty fast; sometimes within just a few hours. Below are ways to tell if your lime juice needs discarding:
1. Smell It
This is perhaps the most effective way to find out if your juice is safe for consumption or not. Just remove the cap and give the liquid a long sniff. Good lime juice should have a juicy, fresh, and sharp lime scent. If it emits a weird smell, it is most probably spoiled and should not be consumed.
2. Taste It
Pour a little amount of the lime juice into a glass and taste it. If it has lost its citrus flavor, chances are it is already rancid and not fit for human consumption. Just discard it.
3. Check Its ‘Best-By’ Date
While lime juice will last for a couple months after the marked ‘best-by’ date, if this date is way off, you should get rid of the bottle right away. If you had kept the bottle in the fridge, you can still drink it after a year but if the period is way past that, it would be wise to toss the juice out.
The best way to ensure your lime juice lasts longer is to check the ‘best-by’ date before making the purchase. If it has lapsed, don’t buy the juice, to begin with.
4. Check for Mold
Because of its low PH value, it’s quite unlikely that lime juice will develop mold. However, if the cap catches some dirt and transfers it to the inside of the bottle, the acidic environment is contaminated, making it more favorable for mold and other microorganisms to survive.
If you see mold or any growth near the seal or if the juice appears to have some sediments at the bottom, do not hesitate to throw it away.
How About Browning?
Sometimes you may notice that your lime juice has changed its color to brown. Don’t worry. Your juice is still safe to drink. Browning is a natural process that often occurs when lime juice is not refrigerated. You can still drink it and it will taste just as good as a new bottle.
The only time you cannot use browned lime juice is if you are depending on it to add some of that original color to the food item you are preparing. In that case, you will probably need to get a new bottle.
3 Tips to Store Lime Juice
Lime juice is mostly sold unrefrigerated, meaning, it can be kept at room temperature without risking spoilage or deterioration of quality. Here are quick tips to properly store lime juice to make sure your bottle serves its purpose longer.
1. Store in a Cool, Dark Environment
Excess heat will make your lime juice turn rancid and fast. Make sure the liquid is kept away from the stove. Also, if it came in a transparent bottle, avoid placing it near the window where it may get damaged by light from the sun.
The pantry would be the best place to store lime juice, but any kitchen cabinet would work just fine provided it is not located near a source of heat.
Keep in mind that homemade juice should not be stored at room temperature. In fact, any freshly made juice should be stored in the fridge to keep it from getting spoiled.
After the seal is broken, the quality of the lime juice is prone to degradation. It’s important to keep the leftover juice in the fridge not just to retain its potency but also to prevent browning.
Refrigerating is especially vital for homemade lime juice. Even if you will be drinking the juice in a few hours, do not store it at room temperature. Bacteria can grow rapidly and make your juice unsafe to drink.
The refrigerator will enable the juice to stay fresh for up to five days. If you would like it to last even longer, consider freezing it.
3. Seal Tightly
Before placing your lime juice in the fridge, make sure it is properly sealed. For homemade juice, consider transferring it into an airtight container.
Storing your lime juice in a properly sealed bottle or container helps not only with retaining its taste and quality but also with locking out smells and flavors from the nearby food items. You want your juice to smell and taste like lime, not like onion.
The Risk of Consuming Expired Lime Juice
If the spoiled lime juice contains bacteria or toxins from going bad, one can easily get sick from food poisoning. Depending on the amount consumed and age and health of the individual, symptoms can develop within just a few hours.
When the infection-causing organism in the juice attacks the lining of your stomach, it causes inflammation, leading to gastritis. While this may not cause a health complication, you may experience symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, nausea, cramping, vomiting, headache, and weakness in the body.
However, some bacteria may take a couple days to attack your digestive system, keeping these symptoms from exhibiting right away. Seek medical assistance if you have been vomiting for more than a day and have diarrhea that lasts more than three days.
Can You Freeze Lime Juice?
Yes, you can freeze your lime juice to give it a longer life. Store-bought lime juice, however, can last exceptionally long on the shelf, so freezing is essentially not required. The juice will be just fine in the refrigerator.
When it comes to homemade lime juice, on the other hand, freezing can be a great idea especially if you have produced plenty of it. And because you will usually be using it in small quantities, freezing it in an ice cube tray would be even a much better idea.
Just pour the juice into the little cubes then place the tray in the freezer and let it rest for an hour or so. Once the cubes have frozen, transfer them into an airtight container or Ziplock bag and place them back in the freezer for storage. From there, you can use a cube at a time or as you please for as long as you want.
Here is a video on how to properly freeze freshly squeezed lime juice to retain its quality:
Lime juice is a perishable product, but if stored properly, it can last an exceptionally long time. Unopened bottle can live up to six months after the ‘best-by’ date. Once opened, lime juice should be stored in the refrigerator to preserve its quality and flavor. Homemade lime juice should be refrigerated or frozen too to keep it fresh.