1 December 2023

Here you have everything about the storage of files. Learn how to choose limes in the supermarket, if you should refrigerate them, and what other ways to store them exist.

Have you bought a bunch of limes and wondering how best to store them so they stay fresh for longer? How are limes stored?

Fresh limes keep for about a week on the counter and up to a month in the fridge. If you want them to retain their quality for as long as possible, put them in a freezer bag.

That’s the short version if you’re in a hurry.

This is what we discuss below:

  • choosing limes at the grocery store or supermarket
  • storing whole limes
  • choose between refrigeration and room temperature
  • how to treat cut limes

Interested? Keep reading.

lime cut in half
lime split in half

How to choose the files?

Choose files that are green, fairly firm to the touch (a little bit of give is okay), feel heavy for their size, and have no soft spots or bruised areas. If you plan to peel them, choose the ones that do not have spots or discoloration.

The general appearance of the lime, that is, the perfect color and the absence of any visual defects, is not so important if you only want to make juice. Although the rind may appear rough on the outside, as long as the fruit is fairly firm, feels heavy, and has no soft spots, it will be quite juicy.

That should be a relief, because hardly any file looks as good as the ones you see in stock photos or on the internet.

In other words, you only need a perfect zest if you want to zest the lime. Unless, of course, you’re okay with peeling a bunch to get the rind of a lime.

With that in mind, let’s talk about how to store whole limes.

file in hand
file in hand

How to store whole limes?

The best way to store whole limes is to refrigerate them in a freezer bag or airtight container.. Stored in this way, they keep for four weeks or even longer. Without the bag or container, the limes will keep for 3-4 weeks.

If you leave them out on the counter at room temperature, they will only last a week.

(For more on the subject, see my article How long do files last?)

If you store the limes in the fridge, place them in the crisper drawer. That is usually the most humid place in the fridge, so keeping them there will help the fruit retain its quality for longer.

Also, limes aren’t especially sensitive to ethylene gas and don’t mind being stored with other fruits, so keeping them there shouldn’t be a problem.

For the longest storage time possible, place the limes in a freezer bag or airtight container, and seal well. If you do it like this, it doesn’t matter if the fruit is in the vegetable drawer or not, since it doesn’t need the environment to be humid. The bag or container is responsible for maintaining moisture.

(The same practice works with lemons. See my How to Preserve Lemons article if you’re interested.)

If you leave the limes at room temperature, keep them in a cool, well-ventilated place, out of direct sunlight. They will retain their quality longer than if they were on a sunlit counter.

Alternative storage options

When you use limes for cooking, in many cases you only need the juice, the peel, or both. But often you don’t need to have the whole fruit on hand.

So there is an alternative storage option worth considering. Assuming you don’t need lime wedges or slices to garnish a drink or top your key lime pie, of course.

That option is to do the juice and rind of the lime and store that juice and rind instead.

Of course, both homemade lime juice and lime zest don’t keep as long, but both freeze well. And that allows you to store them for months and have them ready whenever you need them.

Related: Can limes be frozen?

So if you’ve bought too many limes or unexpectedly left over, consider juicing, peeling, and freezing them. That way, nothing ends up in the trash, and you have plenty of time to figure out how to use them.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to freeze lime zest and juice, check out the following articles on lemons, as the same approach works for limes:

How to freeze lemon juice?
How to freeze lemon peel?

Do limes need to be refrigerated?

Limes don’t need refrigeration, but their shelf life is much longer if you keep them in the fridge than if you leave them on the counter. Refrigerated limes easily keep for 3-4 weeks, while they only keep a week or so if they are at room temperature.

In other words, it’s okay to leave yours out, as long as you’re going to use them in a few days. If you do not have any planned plan, it is better to put them in the fridge.

Finally, once the lime is opened, you must refrigerate it.

Half Lime Storage
Half Lime Storage

How to store cut limes?

Place the cut limes in an airtight container or freezer bag and refrigerate. Stored this way, they will keep for 3 to 4 days. If you use a bag, squeeze out the air before sealing it.

If you don’t have a bag or container handy, you can wrap them in plastic wrap. Just make sure you don’t use aluminum foil, as it reacts with acidic foods, like limes.

If you have a lime half to save, you can also use a silicone food protector. They work well, look clean, and take up much less space than a container. If you often store food scraps like banana halves, lemon halves, halved cucumbers, etc., buying a set of these might be a good idea.

Lime cut in half in a silicone food container
Lime cut in half in a silicone food container

Lastly, remember that cut limes only last a couple of days before they start to dry out and lose quality. So if you have one on hand and aren’t sure how you’re going to use it, it’s probably best to freeze it right away (or freeze the juice or peel, or both). Otherwise, it is likely that within two weeks it will grow mold in the fridge.

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