Do Limes Go Bad?

You’ve bought a bunch of limes on a sale. The price was great, and you use limes fairly often for cooking and baking, so that seemed like a no-brainer at that time. But once you got home, you realized you purchased way too many. That when you asked yourself: do limes go bad?

Or maybe you buy only a lime or two at a time, and only when you have a dish planned that calls for lime juice. But this time around your plans have changed, and you need to know how long you can store limes and what’s the best way to keep them fresh for longer.

Either way, if you use limes to season meats, add zing to desserts, or even make refreshing summer drinks, there’s probably a thing or two you can learn about these fruits.

If any of the questions and concerns above rings a bell, this article is for you. In it, we talk about storage, slicing, shelf life, and going bad of limes. If that’s what you’re looking for, read on.

Halved limes
Image used under Creative Commons from Richard Stebbing

How to Store Limes

Like with lemons, to give yourself a head start, choose the best limes available. When buying limes at your local supermarket, always choose ones that are just ripened or at the peak of freshness.

They should be of uniform lime color and somewhat firm to the touch. Avoid limes with bruised or mushy parts as well as ones that are turning brown or have brown spots.

Once you get home with limes, it’s time to decide how do you store them. If you expect to use all of them within a week, it’s okay to leave them on the countertop or keep in the pantry. Just place them in the fruit basket, and you’re good to go.

Like with most fruits, such as pineapples, the fridge is the best place to store limes. If you want to keep things simple, you can just transfer the fruits into the vegetable drawer, or put them there in the plastic bag you brought them in.

If you want to store limes for even longer, you can use the same trick I described for storing lemons. The trick is to put the limes in a freezer bag, squeeze as much air out and seal it tightly. The tight seal keeps the moisture in the limes, so they last even longer without drying out.

Two limes on yellow background
(credit: Jude Infantini)

When it comes to sliced or cut limes, you should keep them in the fridge, no questions asked. An airtight container or a freezer bag will make sure the fruit doesn’t dry out quickly.

When storing lime cuts or slices, try to set it up in a way the flesh of the fruit is pressed against the surface of the container or bag. This way it doesn’t have access to air, and that slows down drying out.

In case you wondered about storing homemade lime juice, its place is in the fridge too.

Image used under Creative Commons from agerpoint

Shelf Life of Limes

Fresh, whole limes will keep on the countertop for a week and up to about 2 weeks in the pantry. If you decide to refrigerate them, the fruits should last about a month in good shape, and maybe even a few weeks more if you go all in and keep them in a sealed bag.

When it comes to cut or sliced limes, they only last a few days in the fridge. Obviously, the better you take care of storing them, the longer they will retain freshness.

Please note that they won’t go bad right away after those few days, but will gradually dry out. And as you surely know, dried limes are pretty much useless.

Whole lemons1 – 2 weeks4 – 6 weeks
Cut lemons 3 – 4 days

Please note the periods above are estimates only.

A bunch of citrus fruits
(credit: Nick Fewings)

How to Tell If Limes Have Gone Bad

Let’s start with the obvious signs of bad limes. Those include the presence of blueish-grey specs of mold, brown spots, or wrinkly or mushy rind. If either one is present, throw the lime out.

The rind of a fresh lime is bright green and somewhat firm, so if the changes you see are quite significant, the lime might already be past its prime.

Given that the fruit isn’t dried out on the outside, cut it open and see what’s inside. If it was stored for a long time, the rind might look okay, but the flesh could be somewhat dry. If that’s the case, it’s up to you to choose if you want to use the fruit or not.