A squeeze of lemon is as good as a pinch of salt in bringing out the flavour of almost any food. Not only will lemons make your food exciting but the juice contains citric acid, which helps in breaking down, fats, carbohydrates and proteins in the body. Who wouldn’t love that?
Although lemons are more acidic than most fruits, they still go bad and lose their flavour and juice after some time. When you notice your lemons start to have dark spots and shrivel, it means they are dehydrated and exceeded their shelf life.
Refrigerate them: If you don’t plan to use your lemons within the first week of purchase, use a zip-locked bag or an airtight bag to store your lemons in the fridge. By doing this, your lemons are likely to remain moist and retain their juice and flavour for as long as four to six weeks. When you merely store your lemons in the fridge without wrapping them in airtight bags, the low temperatures will dry them out and you won’t be able to squeeze out any juice from them.
Although if you will want to use your lemons within the first week of purchase, you can store them at room temperature away from sunlight. Through the second week, your lemons will start losing their vibrant colour and developing hard patches, at this point you can use them before they lose their flavour completely.
Storing cut lemons: When you want your lemons to last longer the best way is always to store them uncut. Once cut, their shelf life drops drastically. Nonetheless, you can still store cut lemons in the refrigerator to retain all the juice and moisture you will use later. Unlike whole lemons stored in zip-locked bags, when they have been cut, seal them first with clear paper before storing them in the refrigerator. If you are unable to refrigerate your lemons, you can use them within two to three days when stored at room temperatures. Although it would be prudent to use the entire lemon after cutting to prevent it from harbouring bacteria when left out in the open.
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Storing squeezed lemon: The best way to store squeezed lemon juice is by freezing the contents. However, if that’s not an option ensure to use the lemon juice or extracts within three to four days. Once the lemon juice stays longer than four days in the fridge, it will lose its taste and colour. If left at room temperature, the lemon juice is likely to harbour bacteria. This mainly applies for lemons squeezed in the house, those bought from shops have a longer shelf life because of the preservatives added to them.
Using lemon zest: For the lemon zest, it can also be refrigerated for up to three weeks before its taste starts to diminish. However, if you are unable to refrigerate your lemon zest, you can store it in an airtight glass container away from sunlight for up to three days. Once it exceeds this mark, it will lose flavour and begin to harbour bacteria.
Tip: To get more juice from your lemon, microwave it for ten to twenty seconds before extracting its contents. Do not microwave a cut lemon, the heat will moisturize the juice.