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Lemons can be juiced, zested or sliced for use in everything from herbal teas to sweet desserts, but their flavour can vary depending on how you store them. While these round yellow fruits have a rightful spot on the counter, they have a much longer shelf life in the fridge and can even taste better for it too. But it’s not as simple as placing them loose in the crisper drawer or on a shelf.
According to Anina von Haeften, co-founder of the food delivery service Farm to the People, fresh lemons are best stored in airtight containers that can be kept in the fridge.
She said: “You can keep them on the counter but they won’t last as long and will start to dry out. On the counter they will last about a week and in the fridge they can last up to a month.”
Anina explained that the sealed container helps the fruit to “stay jucier” and “keep their moisture for longer”, which in turn, slows down the ripening process.
While an extended shelf life means you’re less likely to lose your lemons to dreaded mould growth, it can also make them more flavoursome when you get around to eating them too.
The Farm to the People founder noted that the chilly fridge environment maintains the soft texture of the rind while helping to “keep their flavour intact”.
Maddy Rotman, head of sustainability at Imperfect Foods added that while all lemons are acidic, the taste of each individual fruit has a lot to do with how dry they are.
She said: “When lemons are fresher, they are sweeter and less acidic than when they start to dry out, which happens quicker at room temperature.”
So, if you like a sweeter lemon, there’s no better place than the fridge for these waxy citrus fruits.
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It’s not just how you store whole lemons that you need to think about either. With so much on offer from just one lemon, there is no reason why you can’t wrap up the leftovers of a used one.
Maddy explained that the rind is just one part you should consider keeping hold off even after juicing or slicing the rest of the fruit.
She said: “Lemon zest is so versatile in cooking and baking, so even if you don’t need it right away, pop it in a sealed container in the freezer and thaw when you’re ready to make the lemony desserts you’ve been dreaming about.”
If you have a perfect half to keep hold of, you can keep t extra fresh by covering the exposed end with plastic wrap or popping the whole thing in an airtight container.
You will need to consume the lemon half soon after before it dries out, though you should have at least three days to make use of it.
If it’s lemon juice that you’re left with, consider keeping it in a sealed container in the fridge.
The acidic liquid should keep its flavour for a couple of days, though after that, it will taste best in cooked or baked goods rather than in tea or cold water.
Maddy suggested freezing the rest by pouring it into ice cube trays if you need more than two days to consume it.
When it comes to other citrus fruits, the same rule applies. Limes, grapefruit and oranges can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge.
Of course, the fridge will buy you a few extra days or even weeks in terms of shelf life, though the main thing to consider is how moist you can keep each variety of citrus fruit.
If you decide to store your products in the fridge, always remove them from their original packaging and transfer them into a container or mesh bag.
This allows air to circulate and slows down the growth of mould, lesions, or softened rind, all of which can quickly ruin your fresh groceries.
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