Citrus Shelf Life: How Long do Oranges, Lemons, Limes, and other citrus last?

Citrus fruits are a staple in many households around the world. But have you ever wondered how long they actually last? 

How long does citrus fruit last once they’ve been cut open? What happens to them after they’re picked from the tree? And what should I do with my leftover lemons or limes?

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the shelf life of oranges, lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits. We will also discuss what to do with your leftover fruit once it’s gone bad.

Table of Contents

    Citrus Fruits – What Are They?

    Oranges, lemons, linden trees (tangerines), grapefruit, kumquats, and other citrus fruits belong to the family Rutaceae. This is one of the largest families of flowering plants on Earth, containing over 20,000 species. The most well-known member of the family is the orange tree, which produces sweet oranges that grow in tropical climates. Other members include the lemon, lime, tangelo, pomelo, and citron.

    Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and lemons are very perishable. They don’t store well at room temperature because their juices spoil easily. The shelf life of citrus depends on several factors, including variety, storage conditions, and time.

    What is the shelf life of citrus fruits? 

    The answer depends on how you store them. The best way to preserve fresh-cut fruit and vegetables is to keep them in a cool, dark place with good air circulation.

    • Room temperature: 1 week
    • Refrigerator: 3 to 4 weeks
    • Freezer: 3 to 4 months (best quality) 

    As seen above, refrigeration extends the shelf life of citrus by about three times. If you want to get the maximum amount of use out of your citrus fruits before they go bad, then you need to store them properly.

    But if you’re not going to eat your produce right away, it’s important to know what happens to it when you do.



    Tangerines, clementines, and satsumas are all mandarin oranges. They are small, sweet citrus fruits that grow in tropical climates around the world. Their thin skins make them easy to peel. They also tend to be a bit less acidic than other types of oranges.

    Most mandarins are sweet and tart, while tangerines are usually sour. Mandarin oranges are slightly less acidic than tangerines. They are often eaten raw and are great for snacking. They are also used in salads, desserts, and drinks.

    How long can mandarin oranges be kept?

    They usually last up to 3 weeks if stored properly in a cool, dry place. They can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Frozen mandarins will last 6 to 12 months.

    How do you know when mandarins go bad?

    To test whether mandarins have gone bad, squeeze one between your fingers. It should feel firm and smooth. If it feels soft or mushy, toss it out.

    Do mandarins need to be refrigerated?

    Mandarins can be kept at room temperature for up to 1 week. However, keeping them in the refrigerator will extend their shelf life significantly.

    The shelf life will depend on how ripe it was when you bought it. The fresher the better. You can keep a mandarin in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

    However, you should keep in mind that the temperature of the refrigerator may affect the taste of mandarins, so it is best not to store them inside the refrigerator unless you need them for longer than a few weeks. 

    How do you keep mandarins from going brown?

    It is important to wash mandarins thoroughly before storing them. This will remove any dirt and bacteria that could cause discoloration.

    Store them in a plastic bag or container with holes punched in the top. Make sure there is enough air circulation, as this helps prevent mold growth.

    How long does a mandarin last after peeling or cutting?

    A peeled mandarin has a shelf life of about 5 days. After that, it starts to lose its flavor. One that has been cut into half-moons has a shelf life of 1 to 2 days.

    How do you make mandarins last longer?

    • Mandarin oranges are delicious, but they also tend to spoil quickly. How do you prevent them from going bad before you eat them all? Here are some tips to extend the life of mandarins:
    • Wash your mandarins under cold running water before storing them. Use a clean sponge or cloth to remove excess dirt and debris.
    • Store your mandarins in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. They’ll stay fresher longer if you store them upright rather than lying flat.
    • Don’t overcrowd your mandarins. This may lead to rot. make sure there is enough space between each piece of fruit.
    • If you want to freeze mandarins, use only those that are fully ripe. Ripe mandarins contain more sugar and less acidity. These qualities help preserve the fruit during freezing.
    • Store fresh mandarins in the refrigerator. They won’t last nearly as long when stored at room temperature.
    • Wrap individual mandarins in plastic bags after removing the peel. This keeps the fruit from drying out and makes it easier to store.
    • Freezing mandarins extends their shelf life significantly. Freeze them whole and then thaw them before using them.



    The shelf life of a lemon is the period during which it can be stored and still retain its freshness. The shelf life depends on many factors, including how long the fruit was picked before being processed into juice or other products. In general, the longer the fruit has been harvested, the more likely it is to have an extended shelf life.

    Lemons stored at room temperature will last for about several months. If you refrigerate them, however, they will last much longer. Lemons stored in the refrigerator will last for 2 to 3 weeks. Frozen lemons will keep up to 4 months.

    You can read this post for more details on the shelf life of lemons.

    What causes lemons to go brown?

    Browning occurs when the surface of the fruit becomes oxidized due to exposure to oxygen. It’s caused by natural enzymes present in the fruit.

    How do you keep lemons from going brown?

    To avoid browning, store lemons in the refrigerator. You should also try to buy lemons that are firm and heavy for maximum freshness.

    Read this post about how to store lemons for more information.



    Oranges are usually sold unripe, so the shelf life of an orange is shorter than that of a lemon. An orange can last up to five days in the refrigerator.

    Oranges kept at room temperature will last about 5 to 7 days. Oranges stored in the refrigerator will remain fresh for 3 to 4 weeks.

    If you want to use your oranges sooner, you can freeze or dehydrate them.

    You can freeze oranges whole or peel and segment them. Freezing preserves the color and texture of oranges, extending their shelf life even further. Frozen oranges can last for about 12 months.

    Dehydrated oranges can last for up to nine months. To dry them, slice them thinly and spread them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Dry them in a low oven until completely dried.

    How do you know if an Orange has gone bad?

    An orange that looks soft or moldy is probably past its prime. If you’re unsure whether an orange is spoiled, cut it open and check inside.

    If you see any signs of spoilage, throw it out immediately.

    How do you store Oranges?

    • Store your oranges in the refrigerator. They’ll last longer if you store them in the crisper drawer instead of in the vegetable bin.
    • If you want your oranges to last longer, you can freeze them. Peel off the skin and place the peeled fruit in freezer-safe containers. Label and date each container. Then transfer the frozen fruit to resealable freezer bags.
    • You can also dehydrate your oranges. Cut them into thin slices and lay them out on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake them in a low oven (about 150°F) until they become crispy.



    Limes are another type of citrus fruit that doesn’t store well. Limes are typically used in recipes where acidity is needed, like marinades, sauces, dressings, and dips.

    Whole limes kept at room temperature for a few days will keep for about a week and 1 to 2 months in the refrigerator. Frozen limes will keep for up to 3 months.

    Read this post for more information on the shelf life of limes.

    How do you know when limes go bad?

    A lime that feels soft or mushy is likely to be past its prime. If there’s no sign of spoilage, cut it open and taste it. If you don’t feel comfortable cutting into a lime, you can always squeeze it. The juice will tell you if it needs to be thrown away.

    Also when limes start to turn yellow, they’ve lost most of their flavor and won’t be as tasty. This means that they have started to lose some of their vitamin C content.

    Can you get food poisoning from limes?

    Yes, but not often. Most people who get sick from eating contaminated foods do so because they eat something that was already contaminated by bacteria. For example, someone might eat raw meat that wasn’t properly cooked.

    The risk of getting food poisoning from a lime is very small. It’s unlikely that you’d ever get food poisoning from a lime unless you ate a lot of them or ones that have gone bad.

    How do you prevent limes from going brown?

    Keep limes in the refrigerator. The colder temperatures slow down oxidation processes, which prevents browning.

    Can you eat overripe limes?

    Yes. Overripe limes still contain some nutrients and vitamins but not as much as unripe limes. You can use them in salads, smoothies, and other dishes. Just make sure to wash them thoroughly before using them.

    How do you make sure limes stay green?

    Cutting limes before they reach full maturity helps preserve their bright green color. When you buy limes, look for those that are still firm and unblemished. 



    Grapefruit is a citrus fruit that has a thick rind and juicy flesh. It is the biggish cousin of orange and pomelo. Grapefruit is available year-round, although it tends to peak during the winter months.

    Fresh grapefruit should be stored in the refrigerator. You can also freeze grapefruit.

    How long does grapefruit last?

    Grapefruit when stored at room temperature will last about 7 days. Store them in the refrigerator and they should last up to 4 weeks.

    Read here for more information on shelf life and how to store grapefruit.


    Clementines (tangerines)

    Clementines or tangerines are a variety of mandarin oranges. They’re usually smaller than regular oranges and have a sweet-sour flavor. Clementine fruits tend to ripen earlier than other types of oranges.

    When buying clementines, look for those that aren’t too ripe. Ripe clementines are difficult to peel and may have seeds inside. Also, check the stem end of the fruit. That’s where the seeds are located.

    How long does a clementine last?

    At room temperature, clementines will keep for about 6 days. At refrigeration temperatures, they’ll last for about 3 weeks. Freezing preserves them best. Freeze them for up to 12 months.

    How do you know if your clementines are ready to eat?

    Look for one with a little give when squeezed. A hard clementine isn’t ripe yet.

    Read here for More information on shelf life and tips on storing clementines.



    Kumquats are a type of sour orange. They have a tart taste and are used in many Asian cuisines. Kumquat season runs from September through May.

    Store kumquats at room temperature. If you want to extend their shelf life, place them in an airtight container.

    How long does kumquat last?

    At room temp, kumquats will last for about 2 weeks. At refrigeration temperatures, they’ll last for about 1 month.

    Do kumquats have to be refrigerated?

    No. But if you don’t plan to use them right away, then it’s better to put them in the fridge. This way, they won’t spoil so quickly.

    What happens to kumquats after they’ve been cut open?

    Once you’ve opened a kumquat, its juice will start to seep out. Don’t worry though because this doesn’t mean that the fruit is spoiled. The juice just means that there’s less space between the pulp and the skin.

    If you’d like to prolong the freshness of your kumquats, try placing them in an airtight bag or container.

    How do you store fresh kumquats?

    You can either leave them in the fridge or place them in the freezer. Either way, kumquats need to be kept away from heat sources such as ovens and microwaves.

    Can I freeze whole kumquats?

    Yes, you can freeze them. You’ll need to remove the pits first (they’re bitter), but otherwise, it’s fine. Frozen kumquats will keep for about 8 months.


    How long do citrus fruits keep at room temperature? 

    Citrus fruits are usually kept for about a week at room temperature. They tend to wilt and lose flavor when stored for long periods. To extend their shelf-life, store them in the refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag.

    How long do citrus fruits keep in the refrigerator? 

    Citrus fruits stored in the right conditions will usually last for three to four weeks in the refrigerator.

    Can you freeze citrus fruits? 

    Yes. Citrus fruits can be frozen whole in plastic bags. They will be mushier than fresh fruit, but they can be used to make juices.

    Defrost the citrus fruits in the microwave for a few seconds or immerse them in cold water for about 15 minutes. 

    How long do citrus fruits keep in the freezer? 

    If stored in the right conditions, citrus fruits maintain optimum quality for about 3 to 4 months in the freezer but remain suitable for consumption beyond this period. 

    How do you know if citrus fruits are expired? 

    The best way is to smell and examine the citrus fruits. Throw them away if mold appears or if the citrus fruits smell or look abnormal.

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