Can you freeze lemons?  Yes, you can!  Let me share with you my failsafe guide to freezing lemons. For added bonus points, this technique works well on other citrus fruits such as oranges and limes.

I hate food waste.  Did you know that 17% of the food available to consumers – in shops, households, and restaurants – goes directly into the bin? It’s a shocking statistic, particularly because cutting food waste can help beat climate change. Therefore I’m always aiming to further reduce the amount of food I waste.  

I’ve already made big strides with this, and I do now also compost food waste. However, undoubtedly there is still more that I could do to help reduce what I’m sending to compost. I always think that composting should be the last resort.  Citrus fruit, in particular, can be hard to compost so it’s a good idea to use as much of it up as possible.  With this guide, you can use pretty much all of the lemon with very little waste.  

How To Freeze Lemons

how to freeze lemons

The good news is that when it comes to citrus fruit, such as lemons, you can freeze the zest and juice. What’s more, the best part is that you can freeze individual slices.  Isn’t that pretty revolutionary?!  As a keen gin drinker, the idea of always having a slice of lemon or lime to hand to garnish an impromptu gin is pretty good!

It’s not just that though.  Quite often when I’m cooking or baking, the recipe calls for the zest of a lemon or the juice of half a lime.  What used to happen to me would be that the rest of the lemon or lime would sit going off in the fridge.  Now this wastage is no more.  Any leftover lemon goes straight in the freezer for another day’s cooking, baking, or to be used in beverages.

The only part of a lemon I’m now disposing of is the pith. This composts much more effectively than when I was composting lemon peel. Let me show you how!

The Zest

zesting citrus fruit

I’ve found freezing lemon zest to be a really good way to reduce food waste. Particularly so when a recipe calls for the juice of a lemon but not the zest.

To freeze the zest all I do is grate the lemon skin with a small grater. I then pop the zest into an ice-cube tray.  Next, I then add a few drops of lemon juice to the zest.  Freezing lemons in this manner mean that it’s really easy to pop out one portion of zest when I need it. What’s more, the addition of the juice keeps the zest nice and hydrated. No dried-up zest for me!

Once frozen, you can remove the cubes from the tray. You can then store the zest cubes in a container or a bag in the freezer, to help free up your ice-cube tray for more food waste reduction action!

I have tried a few methods of freezing lemon zest, and this is definitely the best way.  Some people say to just add the zest to a small tub in the freezer, but you then have to chisel off some zest when you need to use it.  Portioning the zest before you freeze is much more convenient as it helps avoid this need for chiseling!

The Juice

juicing citrus fruit

My preferred method for freezing lemon juice is again, the ice-cube tray method.  If your recipe calls for the juice of half a lemon, say, then simply squeeze the juice out the other half and pour it into ice-cube tray compartments.  One ice cube is equal to about two teaspoons of lemon juice.  Two ice-cubes are roughly half a lemon.

freezing lemon juice

Now I don’t have to buy those little plastic lemons/limes full of juice and I’m not wasting any lemons!  Win!

Again, once frozen, you can pop the cubes of lemon juice in a tub or bag and keep them in the freezer. This means you don’t have to buy multiple ice-cube trays!

Don’t forget to zest your lemon skins too!

The Slices

freezing limes

Got half a lemon or lime leftover from cooking?  Another way to freeze lemons or limes is to cut them into thin slices. Next, place them in a Tupperware container, and then pop them in the freezer.  To maximise storage space, you can add additional layers of lemon slices. Just make sure you add a layer of greaseproof paper between each layer so that your lemons don’t stick to each other.

It’s a really handy way to freeze citrus fruits as it means I’ve always got a slice for drinks, such as tea, or hot water, and lemon. Or for my boozy elderflower cordial!

How Long Can You Store Lemons In the Freezer For?

Frozen lemon juice, slices, and zest can be stored in the freezer for around six to eight months. It’s good practice to label your tubs or bags with what your items are and the date on which you froze them. This helps eliminate food waste further, as you aren’t left scratching your head trying to remember what something is or how long it’s been at the back of your freezer!

Can You Freeze A Whole Lemon?

how to freeze limes

You might be wondering if you can just skip all of these steps and just freeze a whole lemon. Yes, you can freeze whole lemons. I just personally prefer not to.  This is because when you defrost the lemon it goes all soft and squidgy.  It’s perfectly fine for squeezing juice from. However, you do lose the ability to zest the lemon or cut it into slices.  I’d rather zest the lemon first and then save the juice, or slice before freezing for beverages.  However, it’s your call – you do whatever works best for you.

And that’s my ultimate guide to freezing lemons (and other citrus fruits!).  Never let another lemon go to waste in the back of your fridge again!

Check out the rest of my food waste tips for more handy advice!  I’ve got tons of posts, including advice on freezing oat milk and freezing canned coconut milk.

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