How To Tell If A Lemon Has Gone Bad

Lemons are mouth-puckering citrus fruits that round out many sweet and savory dishes. They're sliced into wedges, placed in teas, rolled in sugar to create sweet treats, and their rinds are zested to blanket fine-dining plates. Food Print says lemons are imperative to fish dishes, and they liven up our foods beautifully. Without lemons, where would the world be?

BBC Good Food recommends avoiding pale-colored or green lemons when selecting the freshest citrus. These are signs of underripe or old fruits. Unwaxed, thicker-skinned lemons are best for zesting, and thin, smooth-skinned lemons are perfect for cutting into wedges for beverages or garnishment. A nice, ripe lemon has glossy, vibrant yellow skin (via Minnetonka Orchards). Select fruit that exhibits these hardy traits.

If you've had your lemons for a while, and question whether they're still edible, take note of the following characteristics to see if your lemon has passed its prime.

Ways to tell a lemon has gone bad

Bright yellow lemons radiate sunshine and happiness, but a spoiled lemon exhibits brown spots, discoloration, and utter sadness (via Lucky Belly). Dark green or white lemons with dusty or fuzzy molded skin are inedible and color alterations mean the fruit is tainted. The texture is critical when inspecting your lemons, and a nice, ripe lemon will be somewhat firm but soft when squeezed. It will hold all of its delicious juice within its rind, where it belongs. According to Lacademie, putrid lemons may be extra hard or ultra-soft, slimy, shriveled, and squishy. Toss lemons with any questionable texture.

Lemon decay delivers a moldy, pungent, rotten scent while lemons should smell fresh and clean, never old, fermented, or vinegary. Home Cook Basics says to throw out lemons with a rotten, rancid odor. Most of us know what fresh lemon tastes like; Don't sacrifice that flavor. According to Foods Guy, fresh lemon should taste refreshingly tart, and changes in taste should warrant caution.

Lemons are fantastic, versatile fruits that serve a kitchen well, and when properly stored, they last for several weeks. Avoid storing them near other fruits and veggies that emit ethylene, a natural chemical that causes early spoilage. Store lemons in the fridge drawer for up to a month, on the counter for up to 10 days, and in the pantry for a few weeks (via Lucky Belly).

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade; Just make sure those lemons haven't spoiled.