Can lemonade go bad?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can lemonade go bad?”, how to tell if the lemonade is bad, what is the shelf-life of lemonade, how to store lemonade, how to freeze lemonade, and how long can you safely leave lemonade on the counter.

Can lemonade go bad?

Yes, lemonade can go bad, whether store-bought or homemade. It is just a matter of time. But storage practices can significantly impact the shelf-life of lemonade. 

For example, homemade lemonade will last up to a week in the fridge but 2-3 months in the freezer. Commercially bottled or storebought lemonade lasts about 3-6 months at room temperature storage, but longer when kept in the fridge.

The reason behind the long shelf-life of store-bought lemonade is how its made. Commercial lemonade goes through heat treatment or pasteurization that inactivates the enzymes and kills the vegetative forms of spoilage and pathogenic microbes.

Moreover, it has been administered with certain additives such as preservatives, acidity regulators, and stabilizers. All of these factors contribute to a longer shelf-life of store-bought lemonade. 

Homemade lemonade lacks all these characteristics and merely lasts a day at room temperature unless you live in a cold climate. 

Note that although a low ph or acidic environment such as in lemonade can impede the growth of microbes, it cannot completely prevent it. Some microbes can even grow in acidic conditions. 

How to tell if the lemonade is bad?

Sour smell: If the lemonade gives off too sharp a sour smell, get rid of it. 

Off-taste: Lemonade should have a pleasantly sour taste. If your lemonade develops overtly sour or bitter notes, it has gone bad. 

Mold growth: Mold can grow on the surface of the lemonade or around the rim and inside the cap. Whenever you spot mold growing on any food product, it should be discarded immediately. No ifs and buts. Because moldy food can lead to food poisoning. 

Discoloration: Ideally, lemonade should have an opaque white or off-white color. If your lemonade develops funky colors, it has turned. 

What is the shelf-life of lemon juice?

The following table shows the estimated shelf-life of homemade and store-bought lemon juice under different storage conditions. 

Pantry Refrigerator Freezer 
Homemade lemon juice About a day 1 week 2-3 months 
Store-bought refrigerated lemon juice (Opened)Not recommended 1 week 7-10 days 
Store-bought refrigerated lemon juice (Unopened)3-6 months past the expiry 6-12 months 

What’s the best way to store lemonade?

If the lemonade is to be stored in the pantry, make sure the bottle of the lemonade is dark in color. This will reflect any incident light on the bottle and prevent spoilage due to rancidity. If the bottle is transparent, wrap it with paper or a napkin to keep the light away. 

The general rule of thumb is to keep the lemonade in a cool, dark, and dry place, in a kitchen cabinet, fridge or freezer. 

Once opened, store the lemonade in the fridge or the freezer. When refrigerating, keep your lemonade near the back of the fridge, where it is the coldest. Keeping the lemonade at a steady and cold temperature is key to a long shelf-life.

Make sure the lemonade is tightly sealed in between uses. Do not leave the lemonade on the counter after use. Return it to the fridge as soon as possible to minimize temperature fluctuations. 

How to freeze lemonade?

There are two ways to go about freezing lemonade. You can either put the bottle or the container in the freezer as is or you can pour the lemonade into an ice cube tray and freeze it. 

The frozen cubes of lemonade can then be transferred to a heavy-duty freezer bag. Express out as much air as possible from the bag before chucking it into the freezer. 

This will create a vacuum inside the bag and discourage the growth of aerobic microbes. Aerobic bacteria are those that require access to oxygen for growth. When we limit the oxygen supply to the lemonade, the bacteria can not perform respiration and stop multiplying.

How long can you safely leave the lemonade on the counter?

If it is a shelf-stable store-bought lemonade, the printed date will give you an estimate of how long the lemonade will stay good if left on the counter. When it comes to homemade lemonade, it is recommended you do not leave it out for more than 2 hours. 

If it is a store-bought refrigerated lemonade, it can sit out for about 12 hours as long as it is unopened. Once opened, do not keep it on the counter for more than 2 hours. Learn about the 2-hour rule here.


In this article, we answered the question “Can lemonade go bad?”, how to tell if the lemonade is bad, what is the shelf-life of lemonade, how to store lemonade, how to freeze lemonade, and how long can you safely leave lemonade on the counter.


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