Lemons are an essential fruit in the kitchen, whether it’s for use in sweet cakes, salad dressings or savoury dishes. The bad news is that they only last a few weeks in the fridge before they begin to turn brown and mouldy. So, why not freeze them instead?
To freeze lemons, you can place whole lemons, wedges or slices into a freezer bag, seal and freezer. You can also freeze lemon juice in an ice cube tray and even freeze lemon zest!
How to Freeze Lemons
With the versatility of lemons comes a range of different ways they can be frozen. We’ve covered 4 options for freezing lemons below:
How to Freeze Whole Lemons
If you’re pushed for time and want to get lemons stored in the freezer as quickly as possible then this is the route to take. If you want to freeze both the juice and zest then this is also the perfect way to freeze them:
- Bag Up
Place 3 to 4 whole lemons into a good-quality freezer bag.
Seal the bag up, squeezing as much air out of the bag as posible. This will both protect the lemons and will also ensure you don’t take up too much room in the freezer.
- Label and Freeze
Label the bag with the date and the contents and then place the bag into the freezer. Whole lemons will keep for 3 to 4 months in the freezer.
To defrost whole lemons, take one out of the freezer and submerge it in cold water for 10 to 15 minutes to soften. You can then cut it in half and squeeze the juice. If you only want the zest, then you don’t need to defrost it! Simply grate from frozen.
How to Freeze Lemon Slices
Frozen lemon slices can either be used to garnish cocktails or added into soups, stews and tagines to balance our richness or sweetness. Here’s how to freeze lemon slices (or wedges):
- Cut Lemons Up
Cut lemons into slices, wedges or crescents depending on how you expect to use them.
- Lay Out on a Lined Baking Tray
Line a flat, baking tray with greaseproof paper and then lay the pieces of lemon out on the tray. Try to ensure none of the pieces are touching one another.
- Freeze the Tray
Place the tray into the freezer, keeping it as flat as possible and leave the pieces of lemon to freeze for 2 to 3 hours.
- Remove and Bag Up
Once the pieces are solid, remove them from the tray and place them into a ziplock freezer bag. Seal the bag up, removing as much air from the bag as possible.
- Return to the Freezer
Place the bag of frozen lemon slices and wedges back into the freezer where they will keep for 2 to 3 months.
You don’t need to defrost lemon slices. If you’re using them in a drink then they’ll act as an ice cube while slowly infusing your drink with a subtle citrus flavour. If you want to use them in a cooked dish then just toss them into the pot.
How to Freeze Lemon Juice
Lemon juice can be frozen into ice cubes which can then be popped into drinks, savoury dishes or used in desserts. Here’s how:
- Juice Into a Jug
Squeeze the juice from several lemons directly into a jug. This will make it easier to pour in the next step. Ensure no pips drop into the juice as you will not want to freeze those.
- Decant Into an Ice Cube Tray
Portion the juice into an ice cube tray. Only fill each slot of the tray around 90% of the way up. This will prevent any spillages and will also allow for the juice to expand slightly.
- Freeze Into Cubes
Place the ice cube tray into the freezer and allow the cubes to freeze solid for several hours.
- Bag Up
Once the juice is solid, pop the cubes out of the tray and into a labelled ziplock bag. Seal the bag up, removing any excess air as you do.
- Return to the Freezer
Place the bags of fruit lemon juice cubes back into the freezer where they will keep for around 3 months.
It depends on how you plan on using the juice. If you’re using it in cooked dishes then the cubes of juice can be used from frozen. If you need it defrosted then simply leave it in a bowl to thaw for a few hours.
How to Freeze Lemon Zest
Lemon zest is packed full of flavour and is often used to balance out rich stews as well as in baked goods. If this is how you often use lemon then here’s how to go about freezing zest:
- Zest It
Zest the lemon how you normally would whether this means using a microplane grater, a y-peeler or zester. Any shape, size or form of lemon zest can be frozen.
- Bag Up
Grab a ziplock, freezer bag and bag the zest up. Make sure you opt for good-quality freezer bags to ensure the zest is stored airtight.
Seal the bag up almost completely before pushing as much air out of the gap as possible. Once the air has been removed, fully seal the bag.
- Label and Freeze
Once you’ve bagged all the zest up, label the bag with the contents and the date and then carefully place it in the freezer.
- Shake and Return
After 30 minutes, remove the bag from the freezer and give it a quick shake. This will prevent all the zest from clumping together. You can then return the bag to the freezer. Lemon zest will keep in the freezer for around 3 months.
As lemon zest is so fine, it doesn’t actually need to be defrosted. Grab a spoonful as and when you need it and use it as you normally would.
How to Freeze Lemons Successfully
If you want to have complete success when freezing lemons, check out our quick-fire tips below:
- Consider How You Use Them – Think about how you normally use lemons and freeze it accordingly. If you only ever use the zest then there’s no point wasting room by freezing whole lemons, for example.
- Grate Zest From Frozen Lemons – If you have frozen whole lemons then you don’t need to defrost them to use the zest. Simple grab a lemon and grate it straight away. It will defrost almost instantly as you grate it.
- Avoid Garnishing – Most forms of lemon will become soft and mushy once it has been frozen and defrosted. This means it won’t work well for use as a garnish. Instead, it should be used solely for its flavour.
How Long Do Lemons Last?
The benefit of freezing lemons is that they will last for around 3 to 4 months in the freezer in whole, juice and zest forms.
This is significantly longer than how long they will keep in the fridge. Whole lemons will only last for 2 to 3 weeks in the fridge. Once cut, they’ll go off in a matter of days.
Do Lemons Freeze Well?
Generally, lemons do freeze well whether you’ve frozen them whole, in slices, as juice or as zest.
The only thing to be aware of this that texturally lemon will change when frozen. This can make it visually unappealing meaning it’s not suitable for garnishing dishes. Lemon will retain its zesty, citrus flavour when frozen, however.
Freezing Lemons FAQs
If you have more questions about freezing lemons then these specific FAQs might help you out:
Yes, it is perfectly OK to freeze lemons. Lemons will retain their strong flavour when stored in the freezer for a few months. Lemon juice and lemon zest both freeze particularly well.
Yes, you can freeze lemon with limes. If freezing the fruits whole, you’ll easily be able to grab a lemon or lime as and when you need them.
Lemon curd can be frozen. Decide on the quantity you need before portioning it out into either an ice cube tray or small Tupperware containers then freeze.
Yes, it’s possible to freeze lemon meringue pie. You can either wrap the whole pie in clingfilm to freeze it or you can wrap individual portions. The meringue and curd will freeze fine but the pastry make soften.