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How to Tell if a Lime Has Gone Bad (with photos!)

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Limes are one of the most useful ingredients you can have in your kitchen. Their delicious juice and zested skin add flavor to so many dishes!

It's helpful to know the signs of a lime gone bad though, so you use them at their peak.

Old limes have an astringent flavor, discolored skin, and less juice. Fresh limes should be slightly firm, heavy for their size, and have a pleasant citrus aroma. They should be free of dark gouges, soft spots, mold, and slippery skin.

Fresh limes can be stored for 3 to 4 weeks if kept in the right conditions in the refrigerator.

A hand holding a rotten lime.
A lime with a large dark mark on the skin.
An old lime sliced in half.
A halved lime with dry, gummy flesh and rotting skin.

Signs of Rot in Limes

Look for these signs to see if your limes have gone bad.

  1. Mold - old limes may develop white, green, dark brown, or black mold. The mold may be furry or look wet. It usually develops on the outer skin but may be inside the lime as well.
  2. Soft Spots - rotten limes may have mushy spots or wet pockmarked areas. The mushy spots may be a slightly darker yellow, brown, or black.
  3. Dry Flesh - if the lime feels light or has large dried-out areas it's likely too old. If you cut it open and the flesh looks dry, gummy, or has pulled away from the skin it's past its prime.
  4. Smell - if the lime has a strong acrid or ammonia-like smell, it is too old and shouldn't be eaten. It won't taste good and you shouldn't use the juice (even if you are cooking it).
An old lime cut in half.

The Best Way to Store Limes

Fresh limes are best when kept in a sealed bag in the crisper or vegetable drawer of your refrigerator. They will typically keep for up to one month but may be best in the first two weeks.

You can keep them at room temperature in a fruit bowl on your counter for up to one week.

Halved or sliced limes will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator when stored in a Ziplock bag or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

Lime FAQs

How long do limes keep in the fridge?

Fresh limes will keep from 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight bag or container.

Do you need to store limes in the fridge?

No, you don't have to store limes in the fridge (but they will last longer). They'll keep for up to one week at room temperature.

Are limes with a bad smell okay to eat?

No, limes with an acrid or sour smell shouldn't be eaten. Limes have a strong citrus smell, but anything that smells "off" should be discarded.

How long do cut limes last?

Cut limes will keep for up to 5 days when stored in the refrigerator. Store them in a Ziplock bag or wrap them in plastic wrap.

Can you freeze limes?

Yes, you can freeze limes! They'll keep for up to 6 months in the freezer.

The consistency of the flesh changes slightly, so they won't be good for garnishes. But you can use them for their juice or blend them whole and add them to smoothies, limeade, or baked goods.

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