How To Tell If A Lemon Is Bad

Updated on March 6, 2023

Lemons are not limited to their unique taste and smell, but also bring essential nutrients including vitamin C, antioxidants, phytonutrients, minerals, and more that improve your immunity and make your skin fresh and healthy. Lemons have a sour and sharp nature as they contain citric acid, and they are famous for making drinks and healthy cuisines like lemonade, salads, lemon pasta, and more.

Lemon, being a vegetable, can spoil and becomes useless; however, that depends on their freshness too. You can increase the longevity of lemons and use them for a long time using different ways. In the first place, it is recommended to always buy fresh lemons but how to tell if lemon is bad or good? There are a few tricks or ways which I’ll be discussing in this article, so stay tuned.

How To Tell If A Lemon Is Bad

There are many different methods of determining whether a lemon is good or bad, but the first response is visibility. You can see a lemon and judge by its appearance whether it is fresh and able to use or not. Just a reminder, please don’t use a spoiled one, or else the overall taste or smell of your drink or cuisine will get stink.

Lemon’s Looks

It might sound funny, but you need to judge a lemon by its looks. The bad lemon has mushy or soggy brownish spots all over its skin and it looks shriveled. In contrast, a fresh lemon has clear, bright, smooth, and shiny skin in a sharp and vivid yellow color. When you go to the market, make sure to grab ones with a good appearance to be on the safe side.

Lemon’s Feels

Secondly, you need to see how lemon feels like—for example, its size, its texture, its weight, and so forth. As a general idea, lemons feel heavier than their apparent size, so you can do a quick test considering this. Also, firm lemons are healthier than softer ones, so you grab one and test accordingly. I love this way of checking lemons as it takes no more than seconds and you end up with a great collection of lemons in your fridge.

Lemon’s Smell

As I said earlier, bad lemons smell stinky—trust me, as bad as rotten eggs. A lemon with a bad odor is a straight NO; there is no second thought. This smell is the primary indicator because the bad smell is because of mold or fermentation; otherwise, lemon has an acidic and sour smell; you must have an odor of lemonade in your memory, right?

Mold In Lemon

Fresh lemon must have clear and smooth skin and a firm texture with no dampening. On the other hand, bad or useless lemons are super soft because of mold that increases the moisture content in the lemon. So, if you grab a moist and gooey lemon, it means it has a fungus. Mold on lemon i.e., Penicillium digitatum has a powdery appearance, which is another indication.

How Long Lemons Last?

The longevity of lemons depends on their form, for example, fresh lemons last for a month at room temperature, and for more than a month in the refrigerator. While if you have cut lemons, they will not last more than two or three hours at room temperature. However, refrigeration can increase the life of cut lemons to up to three days.

People also refrigerate or store lemon juice which has a validity of three hours at normal conditions and three days in the fridge, and if you secure that juice in a sealed bottle it will last in the refrigerator for up to six months, which is quite impressive. You can also extend a lemon’s normal shelf life using some quick ways, let’s discuss:

Extend Lemon’s Longevity

These are the ways to improve the shelf life of lemon: refrigeration, storing lemon juice in a sealed container, using plastic wrap or aluminum foil to keep the lemons safe from external pressures, and freezing. You can opt for any of those ways at your convenience. But what if you have some bad lemons in your kitchen?

Do you know you can also use or re-cycle the bad lemons? If you have a lemon that looks nice from the inside or it is in the process of becoming a rotten one, squeeze it and store its juice in the refrigerator. Secondly, you can the fresh part of bad lemons for topping your desserts, drinks, salads, and other cuisines. As lemons are acidic in nature, people use them as bleach for cleaning. Lemons also possess antiseptic and antibacterial characteristics and are the most effective and cheaper cleaners.


What happens if you eat a bad lemon?

It will definitely cause health-related problems like irritation in your stomach, diarrhea, and more. But that depends on how spoiled that lemon is for example if it doesn’t contain food-poisoning bacteria, it will only cause mild irritation.

Does lemon bring health benefits?

Yes! Lemons are a source of essential nutrients including vitamin C, antioxidants, phytonutrients, minerals, and more that improve your immunity and make your skin fresh and healthy.

How to determine if lemon is good or bad?

You can find out whether a lemon is healthy or not by its odor, appearance, size, weight, texture, color, and softness. A firm, yellowish, bright, and clear lemon with a sour and acidic smell is healthy.

The Bottom Line

Lemons alongside their unique, acidic, and sour taste and odor are an excellent source of vitamin C, antioxidants, minerals, and phytonutrients. Adding lemons to your daily diet will maintain your blood pressure, improves immunity, and make your skin clear and healthy. You can get these abundant benefits only by having healthy lemons or else you’ll face diarrhea, so it’s important to know whether a lemon is good or bad.

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