Infusing fresh lemon slices in a cool pitcher of water has to be one of the best uses for this fruit. Many of us struggle to consume our daily requirement of water, and adding a burst of natural, tangy flavor makes drinking water a lot easier. Slices of lemon also make for a more visually appealing beverage on the table. But how long do lemons last once added to water? We’re about to answer this question and also provide you with all the information you need to get the best out of your lemon-infused water.
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How long will lemons last in water?
Once lemon slices have been added to water, they will last for 3-4 hours at room temperature before turning soggy and losing their bright, fresh appearance. When refrigerated, lemons infused in water will last around 3 days before losing their flavor and firm texture. After this time the infused water will usually still be safe to drink for several days thanks to the lemon’s high acidity which resists microbial spoilage.
Unless you have a ready supply of lemons growing on the tree outside, you will want to get the most out of the ones you buy. Your lemon slices can be reused multiple times before they need to be discarded. Keep in mind that every time you pour fresh water into the jug, they will lose flavor. As a useful midpoint, you may want to keep the old lemons in the jug and toss in a couple of fresh slices to give your water more zing.
What about whole lemons? Whole lemons will last four to five weeks when kept in a bowl of water stored in the fridge. The water helps to maintain the moisture in the lemons, preventing them from drying out prematurely.
|Fruit Infused Water||Room Temperature||Refrigerated|
|Lemon slices||3-4 hours||3 days|
|Whole lemons||3-4 weeks||4-5 weeks|
|Lime slices||3-4 hours||3 days|
|Cucumber slices||3-4 hours||12 hours|
|Mint leaves||3-4 hours||12 hours|
6 tips for getting the best out of your lemons
1. Keep the water topped up
If you notice your lemon water is reaching the halfway mark then give it a top-up. This way the fresh water will benefit from the juice-infused water which will be strong in flavor. You may find the remaining water in your jug is bitter and unpleasant if you drink it on its own.
2. Add lemon at the last minute when entertaining
If you have guests over then it is best to add the freshly cut lemon slices just before putting the water on the table. Your refreshments will look and smell much better. To save a little time, pre-slice the lemons before everyone arrives and wrap them tightly in cling film. That's one less thing to worry about when you're serving dinner.
3. Choose quality lemons
Select vibrant yellow, firm Meyer lemons (if available) that don't have any spots, bruising, or mold. Lemons that show signs of spoilage won't last as long in your drink and may create an off-tasting flavor. Always chose quality for a longer-lasting infusion.
For the best flavor and visual appearance, we recommend using organic lemons. But these fruits can be quite expensive so if you don't want to pay top dollar for your fruit then make sure you wash them before using. This will remove any unwanted pesticides and preservatives.
4. Practice safe hygiene
Always wash your hands before preparing the lemons to ensure proper hygiene. Other safety measures to remember are to use clean utensils and avoid chopping boards that have already been used to cut meat.
5. Remove the coating
If you buy your lemons from the store then they will usually have a layer of thin, food-safe wax and sometimes preservatives as well. Remove these unwanted extras by thoroughly cleaning in water before adding them to your refreshments. You could use a scrubbing brush, or an easier way is to simply add the fruit carefully to a bowl of boiled water. For those that have their own lemon tree or who buy organic fruit, you'll only need to give your lemons a quick rinse to ensure they are clean.
6. Consider other ingredients
Additional ingredients will add more delicious flavor to your drinks and they are also excellent for helping with a detox. But they'll also affect how long the beverage stays good. Strawberries, cucumber, and mint leaves all add a lovely fresh aroma and taste to water. But don't expect them to last three days in the refrigerator. They will usually turn brown, mushy, and unpleasant within 24 hours.
Why does my infused water taste bitter?
The bitter taste in infused water comes from the lemon rind and seeds. To eliminate this flavor your best option is to swap out the old lemon for fresh pieces every few hours.
Another option is to cut the skin off before using the flesh. Use a paring knife to carefully slice off all the skin, ensuring that all the white pith is removed. Avoid cutting in too deeply so that you don’t waste the precious lemon’s insides.
Hot vs. cold water – which is best?
The best option for infusing lemons in water is to use cold water. Although boiling water will speed up the infusion process, it will also damage the structure of the fruit, making it look less appealing in the pitcher. Hot water will also reduce the health benefits of lemons, such as vitamins and enzymes.
To speed up the infusion process, use fruit that has been sitting at room temperature. you can also give each lemon a gentle squeeze before slicing to help break up the cells.
What container is best for storing infused water?
The best container for storing infused lemon water is one that has a sealable lid to maximize storage life. It is also useful to see the condition of the lemons, so a glass or see-through plastic are your best options. Mason jars are excellent for storage as you can choose different sizes depending on how much you want to make. Large pitchers are ideal if you drink a lot of water. They also look great on the table when entertaining. You can also research infused water bottles as there are some impressive-looking, innovative products hitting the market.
Slices of lemon are perfect for adding color and flavor to water that can seem boring without them. Once you have added lemon to water it will last three to four hours at ambient room temperature before losing its quality. If refrigerated, the lemons will last around 3 days before becoming soft and losing their tangy flavor intensity.
Once you're finished with the infused lemon slices they are safe to eat. You will notice the fruit is not as sour and will have lost its vibrant color. If you enjoy the tangy punch of fresh lemon, then the infused variety could be a little bland for you.