Can You Freeze Lemons?

Lemons are one of the most versatile ingredients. They can add sour and bitter notes to sauces, bring zestiness to desserts and are essential in a G&T. But can you freeze lemons and do they freeze well or not?

Yes, you can freeze lemons. Lemons can be frozen for around 3 months. You can freeze lemons whole or in slices. You can also freeze lemon zest or lemon juice on its own.

Can You Freeze Lemons? Yes

Can You Refreeze Lemons? Yes

Do Lemons Freeze Well? Yes

How to Freeze Lemons

This is the simplest way to go about freezing lemons as it requires very little preparation or work. Essentially, this is the method you need to freeze lemons whole or in halves:

Prepare Lemons for Freezing

1) Prepare Lemons for Freezing
If you are freezing lemons whole then give them a quick scrub on the outside. You can also choose to cut them into halves and freeze lemon halves instead.

Bag Lemons Up

2) Bag Up and Seal
Take a sealable container or zip lock bag and place the lemons into the bag. As you close the bag, try and remove as much air as possible. Squeeze the air out of the bag from the bottom to the opening.

Freeze Lemons

3) Freeze
All that’s left to do is to place the bag of lemons into the freezer to allow them to freeze solid. Try not to overfill the bag otherwise, they may stick to one another.

Please note that when freezing lemons whole or in halves, you’ll only want to use them for juice when you defrost them. They lose a lot of their texture which makes it hard to slice and present nicely.

How to Freeze Lemon Slices

Freezing lemon slices will require a little more work but it makes for a great way to freeze lemons if you plan on using them in drinks and cocktails. You can remove a frozen lemon slice from the fridge and place it straight into your drink.

As mentioned above, lemon will lose its texture when frozen so if you prefer to use slices then freeze them in slices instead of whole lemons.

  1. Slice Up
    First, slice your lemon up. You can slice it into full circles or half-moons depending on your preference.
  2. Flash Freeze
    Now place the slices onto a baking tray and ensure none of the slices are touching. If you were to put them all into a bag, they would freeze together into one large lemon-slice clump.
  3. Bag Up
    Once the slices have frozen, after several hours, remove from the freezer then tip the contents of the tray into a bag and place back in the freeze. Now that they have frozen they will not stick together, and you can remove one slice as and when you need it.
  4. Final Freeze
    Return them to the freezer.
How to Freeze Lemon Slices

How to Freeze Lemon Zest

The good news is that if you want to freeze the zest of the lemon, then that’s entirely doable too. Freezing lemon zest couldn’t be easier:

Grate your lemon zest directly into a ziplock bag, seal it up and place it in the freezer. When you need some zest break off the amount, you need from the frozen clump in the freezer – simple!

How to Freeze Lemon Juice

Having lemon juice on hand to use in desserts, syrups, or salad dressings can be hugely advantageous in the kitchen. That’s why it’s good news when it comes to freezing lemon juice because it’s something you can do easily:

Juice Lemons for Freezer

1) Juice Lemons
If you are freezing lemons whole then give them a quick scrub on the outside. You can also choose to cut them into halves and freeze lemon halves instead.

Lemon Juice Into Ice Cube Tray

2) Pour Into Ice Cubes
Carefully pour the lemon juice into the slots of an ice cube tray. Try to find a tray with slots of a suitable size based on how you normally use lemon juice and leave room for some expansion.

Freeze Lemon Juice Cubes

3) Freeze Cubes
Move the tray to the freezer to allow the lemon juice cubes to freeze solid. You may want to wrap the ice cube tray in cling film to keep it protected.

Bag Up Lemon Cubes and Freeze

4) Bag Up and Freeze Again
Once the cubes have frozen solid, pop them out of the ice cube tray and place them into a bag. Return this bag to the freezer for the long term.

You now have ready-to-use lemon juice cubes. If you plan on using lemon juice in a cooked dish (such as risotto or stew) then you can pop a frozen cube in and it’ll defrost instantly.

If the want to use the frozen lemon juice in a cold dish then you’ll need to defrost it but this should take just an hour at room temperature.

What Happens When You Freeze Lemons?

What happens to lemons when you freeze them depends on the form in which you have frozen them. If you freeze juice or zest, then not a lot happens as they freeze particularly well.

Problems arise when you freeze lemons whole, in halves or in slices. You’ll find the texture breaks down dramatically. The overall texture will become mushy and slimy so will only be good for flavour.

3 Tips for Freezing Lemons

Now you know how to freeze lemons in multiple ways, we’ve got our 3 top tips which we strongly recommend following when freezing them to have the best results:

Flash Freeze
If freezing pieces of lemon, make sure you flash freeze them first. This makes it far easier to grab a slice or two at a time without them clumping together.

Grate from the Freezer
If you have frozen whole lemons and want the zest, you don’t need to defrost them. Grate the zest directly into whatever it is you’re cooking.

Freeze Juice into Cubes
If you plan to freeze lemon juice, make sure you do so in ice cubes. This is both an efficient way of freezing it and an easy way to use it in future. You can grab a cube as and when you need it.

How Long Can You Freeze Lemons?

Frozen lemons will retain their lemony flavour for a good 3 months. They’ll still be fine to use after this but won’t be as strong as they once were. The only exception is zest which you should try to use within a month of freezing.

You Can Freeze Lemons for up to 3 Months

How Do You Defrost Lemons?

Frozen zest can be sprinkled straight into the dish you’re cooking. The same can be said for slices of lemon if you’re using them to garnish a drink as they also act as ice to keep the drink cool.

When it comes to defrosting whole lemons for their juice, you can run the outside of the lemon under warm water until it has thawed out before slicing in half to extract the juice.

If you have frozen the lemon juice, you can either use the juice frozen (if using in smoothies or stews) or you’ll need to thaw it out if you’re looking to consume it without cooking (such as in salad dressings).

You’re best thawing juice in a bowl in the fridge overnight or just left on the worktop during the day.

Can You Refreeze Lemons?

You can refreeze your lemons, but we’d recommend you don’t. The bulk of lemon and its flavour comes from the juice. But every time you defrost a lemon, you pull out a little of this moisture. When you lose moisture, you lose flavour.

What’s the point of having a lemon that doesn’t taste of… Well, lemon.

It’s also worth noting that you’ll lose some nutrients every time you defrost the lemon.

Instead, try only to thaw out the amount of lemon you need at a given time to avoid having to refreeze your lemons in the first place.

Do Lemons Freeze Well?

Lemons do freeze fairly well if you want to use them for flavour, zest and/or juice. The texture of the flesh will degrade quite dramatically when frozen, however.

So, our verdict is that both fresh and frozen are great for you and both are pretty tasty. You will need to consider how you plan on using the lemons, if frozen, however.

Related FAQs

If you’ve still got questions about freezing lemons or lemons in general, then these may help:

Can You Freeze Lemons for Drinks?

You certainly can. We’d recommend freezing the lemons in slicing so that you can toss them into freshly made lemonade or even a gin and tonic. They’ll look great, give you a quick hit of zingy lemon whilst also keeping your drink cold.

Follow our method for freezing lemon slices towards the top of this article.

Can You Freeze Preserved Lemons?

We’re not sure why you would want to… Frozen lemons will be good for 3 months, maybe 6 if you’re lucky. A jar of preserved lemons will keep for between 6 months and a year. You would, therefore, gain no benefits from freezing them.

Now you know how to freeze lemons, why not look at freezing limes too?

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