So, this was my question … “What is the best way to store lemons when you are not going to use them within the next 24-48 hours?” Performing my own due diligence, I read many articles in magazines and on the internet about just such a query. I soon found out that there are many differing opinions and recommendations floating around in our digital world. I did not know which methodology was accurate, so I tried them all – every last one of them!
After all was said and done, I certainly learned a lot – and more specifically of what not to do. I had been doing it wrong for years! My previous erroneous ways of storing lemons consisted of simply placing them in the fruit/vegetable bin of our refrigerator – in the same flimsy bag the grocery store provided. I left the bags open, thinking that would help deter mold from growing on my fresh produce. It did help with mold prevention, but the open bag also contributed to mass amounts of moisture loss for the lemons. Their days were numbered!
Now, some people claim that the lemons are preserved better when placed in water, in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. The theory is that the water prevents air from getting to the lemon – keeping it fresher for a longer period of time. The logic made sense to me, so I tried it. The lemons did last longer than if I just stuffed them into the fruit and vegetable bin in the refrigerator. But, there was something about this method that kept bugging me … and that was the water the lemons were soaking in – for almost four weeks.
As most people know, there have been scientific studies done on the types of germs that can live on lemons. It was just a couple of years ago that all these stories came out about the vast amount of germs that were found on lemon slices that were served in restaurants. If you want to learn more, just google search “lemons and germs” and you will see the articles I am referring to. When these stories came out, my husband and I immediately stopped getting lemon wedges in all of our drinks at restaurants. It’s the first thing we tell our waitress, “Please don’t put a lemon in our drinks.”
I have read that the skin or rind of a lemon consists of cells, which can – and do – absorb water. Commercial lemons are often treated with pesticides, fungicides and dyes, and since some of these chemicals are oil-based – they might NOT wash off with just a quick rinse under the faucet. There are also other “germs” – the ones that happen in the shipment and/or the handling of the fruit in the journey to get it to your kitchen table. My advice? Wash your lemons thoroughly! Some studies suggested that water alone is sufficient, while others disagreed.
To be safe, I use a solution called Veggie Wash to clean the lemons. I also scrub them thoroughly, using a Fruit and/or Vegetable Brush.
The bottom line is this – if I am going to soak the lemons in water until I use them, then I would need to make sure that they were thoroughly clean so that no germs would sit in the water and possibly soak into the lemons. And, I would want to change out that water on a regular basis to keep it fresh. The more I thought about it, the more I did not like this method. Was this my only option for keeping the lemons fresh for up to one month? Happily, it was not.
While doing my research, I stumbled across a report from America’s Test Kitchen. They, too, had tried different ways of storing lemons. They; however, were a bit more scientific about it than I was. I was happy to read that their findings revealed … “As it turned out, the water wasn’t offering any preservation benefits, but the zipper-lock bag did seal in some moisture.” You can read about their entire experiment here.
Now, armed with validation from an outside source – and in combination with my own personal findings – I was happy to store my lemons without the use of any water. I now store them (correctly) with only a plastic storage bag – that’s it! Here are some of my recommendations for storing lemons (and this methodology will work for limes, too).
STORAGE RECOMMENDATIONS (after prepping and cleaning the lemons) –
- If I am going to use the lemons within the next 24-48 hours, I just leave them on my counter-top at room temperature – out of any direct sunlight.
- If I need to use just a few lemon slices, and have a part of the lemon remaining, then I store it in a Lemon Saver. No fuss, no muss, and easy to spot in the refrigerator.
- If I need to store lemons for up to one month, then follow the instructions in the above post and place the sealed plastic bag in the fruit/vegetable bin of your refrigerator.
And remember … when life gives you lemons, make Southern Lemonade! Enjoy 🙂