Can You Freeze Limes?

Here’s how you can freeze limes and still have great-tasting fruit.
Dennis Gillett, Health & Fitness Writer

Written by Dennis Gillett, Health & Fitness Writer. Updated on December 23, 2022.

Sometimes you have more limes than you can use before they start to go bad. You don’t want to waste food but must keep the fruit from spoiling.

An easy solution is to freeze the extra limes. Before tossing limes in the freezer, you want to follow a few simple steps. Here’s how you can freeze limes and still have great-tasting fruit.

How to Freeze Limes

Limes have several health benefits that include promoting your heart health.

The health benefits are a good reason to freeze the extra fruits. Limes will stay fresh in the refrigerator for around three or four weeks. Keeping them in the freezer is your best bet to get your money’s worth out of your limes.

Toss them in a freezer-safe bag, and the fruit stays fresh in the fridge for an extra week. It only applies to whole fruit. Limes sliced in half or wedges have a noticeably shorter shelf life of less than a week.

When you can’t use the limes before the fruit spoils, there are a few ways you can keep them fresh in the freezer.

Freezing Whole Limes

Freezing whole limes is a breeze. Putting the limes inside a storage bag only takes a couple of minutes. It’s best to use a clear freezer bag. It’s easier to tell what’s inside.

Don’t forget to write the date on the bag. Limes will not keep forever in the freezer.

Freezing Lime Wedges and Slices

Freezing sliced limes takes some prep work, but it’s still a simple process.

  • Remove most of the pith from the slices. It’s the white material between the fruit and the peel. The lime slices stay a little fresher without the pith.
  • It’s an excellent idea to pre-freeze lime slices and wedges. Skipping this step can result in the fruit slices freezing together, making it harder to only remove a few pieces for a dish or recipe. Placing baking paper on a cookie sheet is an easy, low-hassle way to pre-freeze lime slices. Place the slices or wedges on the baking paper and keep the pieces separated. Freeze the tray overnight before placing the wedges in a freezer bag.
  • Don’t forget to squeeze all the air from the bag before sealing it. It helps prevent the lime slices and wedges from becoming freezer burnt.

Freezing Lime Juice

It’s easy to freeze lime juice, especially if you have an extra ice cube tray, muffin tin, or sealed container. You can also use a freezer bag, but it can get messy.

An ice cube tray or muffin tin will give you cubes of lime juice. Using an airtight container or freezer bag often defrosts all of the liquid.

You can refreeze defrosted lime juice, but it’s easier when you can thaw only the required amount.

Depending on how long you plan on keeping the juice in the freezer, you may want to consider pre-freezing.

It only takes a few hours for lime juice to freeze. You can remove the frozen juice cubes from the tray or muffin tin. Place the cubes in a freezer-safe storage bag and mark the date.

If you aren’t planning on using your lime juice-filled ice cube tray or muffin tin, you can consider foregoing the freezer bag.

It comes down to the amount of space you have in your freezer, along with when you are planning on using the juice. Frozen lime juice typically lasts longer in a sealed container.

Freezing Lime Zest

Lime juice isn’t the only part of the fruit with flavor and health benefits. The rind is packed with Vitamin C and antioxidants.

It also tastes great as a garnish for several dishes. Freezing lime zest isn’t complicated, though the process can be a little sticky.

Start by zesting the limes. Try to avoid zesting the rind into strings. The strings typically break in the freezer.

You can still use the zest, which is a little harder to work with. If the strings of zest are intended for use as an attractive garnish, the broken pieces can take away from the dish’s appearance.

When lime zest strings are needed, avoiding the freezer is best.

Remember, limes, including the zest, will last for a few days in the refrigerator.

Take the excess lime zest and place it in an airtight container or freezer bag. A storage bag takes up less freezer space than a container.

It’s something to consider if you have a tightly packed freezer. Label the bag or container with the date and place it in the freezer.

How Long Can You Freeze Limes?

You can freeze limes for several months. However, the shelf life can vary a little depending on if the lime is whole, sliced, juiced, or used to create zest.

  • Whole limes typically last anywhere from three to six months in the freezer. You get a decent quality lime, but it will be soft after thawing.
  • Frozen lime slices and wedges stay fresh in the freezer for up to four months. It’s best to use sliced limes as soon as possible.
  • Lime juice can remain in the freezer for at least six months. Lime juice left longer in the freezer can develop an off flavor or color. If the odor has changed, it’s a good idea to throw out the frozen container of lime juice. It also applies if mold is starting to appear.
  • Freezers around 0 degrees Fahrenheit can keep lime zest edible for up to a year. If the internal temperature is slightly higher, the zest remains viable for about three to six months.

Your freezer temperature does play a role in how long you can freeze limes, whether it’s whole fruit, slices, juice, or zest.

How to Defrost Frozen Limes

Defrosting frozen limes is an easy process, but it can take several hours for the citrus fruit to fully thaw. Make sure you follow all FDA food safety guidelines when thawing any frozen food.

Defrosting Whole Limes

Defrosting whole limes is a simple process, but it can take all day, depending on the fruit size. Smaller limes can thaw in a few hours, while larger ones can take ten hours or longer.

Place the freezer bag in the refrigerator. You don’t want to leave the frozen lime to defrost on the counter. It will be soft when it thaws, and juices can leak out, resulting in a sticky mess.

You can also speed up the process with a bowl of cold water. Place the frozen limes in an airtight container. Fill a large bowl with cold water and insert the container.

Keep the bowl in the refrigerator until it’s time to use the limes. The cold water can almost cut the defrosting time in half.

An excellent tip to remember is to zest the lime while it’s frozen. After thawing, the fruit will be soft and complex to zest.

Defrosting Lime Wedges and Slices

You have a couple of options to defrost lime wedges and slices. Which method is best depends on how you are using the pieces of fruit.

When the pieces of fruit aren’t being used for baking, place the wedges or slices in the refrigerator. It typically takes around four hours for larger pieces to thaw. Smaller slices of lime take around two hours before they are ready for use.

Lime slices on cakes or fish dishes add color and delicious flavor. You can skip the defrosting process when the fruit pieces go into the oven. As the dish is baking, the fruit will thaw.

Sometimes it is easier to bake using frozen lime pieces. You don’t need to worry about accidentally squeezing the pieces, allowing the juice to leak out.

Defrosting Lime Juice

You can use frozen lime juice or wait for it to defrost. The choice is up to you and how the juice is being used.

You can defrost the lime juice in the refrigerator. It works best when the juice is in a sealed container. Removing the frozen cubes from an ice tray or container is another option.

It makes it easier to only thaw the amount of juice you need. It can take up to eight hours for larger containers of lime juice to defrost, so it’s a good idea to start thawing the juice a day before you use it.

Sometimes, even with planning, you run short on lime juice. You can use the stove when there isn’t time to wait for the juice to defrost in the fridge.

Place the frozen juice in a pan and turn the burner to low heat. It only takes a couple of minutes before the juice is ready for use. Do not refreeze any leftover juice after heating.

Bacteria is a concern, along with fermentation.

Frozen lime juice is a popular ingredient in smoothies and other dishes. Adding lime juice to your smoothies can improve digestion. It also provides additional health benefits.

The frozen juice can also be added to dishes cooked on the stove without waiting for it to defrost.

How to Use Frozen Limes

Frozen limes have several uses, whether the fruit is whole, sliced, juiced, or used for zest.

Uses for Whole Limes

Frozen whole limes have multiple uses. However, don’t forget it’s best to get the zest before the lime thaws. It will be soft and difficult to work with, but you can still slice the fruit.

The slices will be soft, but they are perfect for use in a variety of baked and cooked dishes. Place some slices on baked fish or chicken dishes. You can also be creative and use lime to add bright flavor to cooked summer vegetables.

Uses for Lime Wedges and Slices

Using lime wedges and slices to garnish cooked and baked foods is a little easier. Since the lime is sliced before freezing, it looks better than pieces cut after defrosting.

The wedges and slices are too soft to use as a garnish for margaritas and mojitos. The slices typically fall off of the glass.

Using lime wedges and slices for juice or zest is also difficult. However, you can add some fruit pieces to smoothies or use them to make a refreshing and healthy limeade.

Uses for Lime Juice

Any dish or beverage that calls for lime juice works great with the frozen and thawed concentrate.

Depending on how you froze the juice, you can take out a couple of cubes or thaw the entire container. Remember to toss out any unused juice after it thaws to avoid potential problems with bacteria or fermentation.

Uses for Lime Zest

Frozen lime zest has the same uses as fresh. You can use defrosted lime zest in any recipe that calls for the ingredient.

Frequently Asked Questions

Even experienced bakers can have questions about freezing, thawing, and using limes. Here are a few commonly asked questions.

What is the best way to preserve a lime?

The best way to preserve limes is to freeze the fruit. In the refrigerator, fresh limes are usable for up to one month. In the freezer, you can extend the fruit’s shelf life by up to six months.

How do you know if a frozen lime has gone bad?

It is a little more challenging to tell if a frozen lime is bad compared to a fresh one. One indicator is when the fruit begins to soften. However, defrosted limes are naturally soft.

The best way to tell if the fruit is going overripe is by color, taste, and odor. When the skin begins turning brown, it’s time to toss the lime. It also applies if you notice mold forming on the fruit or storage container.

Final Thoughts

Freezing limes is an excellent way to limit food waste and extend the shelf life of the fruit. Use an airtight container or freezer bag for sliced fruit and zest. It helps to preserve freshness.

Thaw in the refrigerator or use frozen baked dishes, and enjoy the multiple health benefits you get from adding limes to your diet.

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