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What Happens If I Refrigerate Citrus Fruits?

By Christina Edwards
Updated May 16, 2024
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While people do not need to refrigerate citrus fruits, doing so can help the fruit last a little longer than usual. Many citrus fruits, however, may become less juicy when stored in the refrigerator. Fruit stored in the refrigerator also may get some minor blemishes on the rind and it is more susceptible to mold. To avoid these problems, it is important to refrigerate citrus fruits properly.

Normally, citrus fruit can be stored at room temperature or in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry. This type of fruit will typically last up to a week when stored this way. To prolong this time, you can refrigerate your citrus fruit.

If you refrigerate citrus fruits, they will generally last much longer than if they were sitting out. Typically, fruit kept this way will last a few weeks longer. In some cases, it may even last a couple of months longer. This option is best if you have a large quantity of fruit that will not be eaten within a week after acquiring it.

Although they will usually last longer, you may run into a few problems when you refrigerate citrus fruits. If you prefer juicy fruit, you should not refrigerate citrus fruit, since colder citrus fruit often contains less juice. For this reason, experts recommend you allow the fruit to warm up to room temperature before making fresh-squeezed citrus juice, like orange juice or lemonade. This can be done by removing the fruit from the refrigerator several hours before juicing it.

Small blemishes may also appear on the fruit peels, or rinds, if you refrigerate citrus fruits. These discolored spots are usually harmless and will not influence the taste of the fruit. If they are troubling, however, these spots can be removed prior to consumption.

Mold is another common problem associated with refrigerating this type of fruit. When you refrigerate citrus fruit, it tends to become moldy quickly. This can spread very quickly from one piece of fruit to another, so any fruit stored in the refrigerator should be examined daily. This mold usually occurs when the fruit has not been stored properly.

Citrus fruit should never be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container or plastic bag. Instead, to promote air circulation and prevent mold, it should be kept in a mesh bag when kept in the refrigerator. Additionally, you should refrain from washing the fruit before storing it, since any excess moisture can also make the fruit more susceptible to mold.

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Discussion Comments
By andee — On Jul 31, 2012

We like to make our own honey lemonade and I will buy lemons in bulk to do this. In the summer we go through these pretty fast, and I store them on a shelf in my pantry.

If I forget about them or don't use them up within a few days, they seem to dry up and look wrinkly. There seems to be a fine line between keeping citrus fruit at room temperature and storing it in the refrigerator if you aren't going to be able to use it up quickly.

I get frustrated when I have to throw fresh fruit away, but it seems like I have had to do this as often when I have refrigerated it as I have when I have left it sitting out.

If someone has found a way to keep citrus fruit fresh for longer than a week without refrigerating it, I would love to hear about it.

By Mykol — On Jul 31, 2012

I have found the longer citrus fruit stays in the refrigerator, the faster the quality declines. The fruit may still be good to eat, but it just doesn't taste as good.

I buy organic grapefruit that comes in a mesh bag. Since I only order this once a month, I will refrigerate the bag when I get it home. I always try to leave a couple grapefruit sitting out in my fruit bowl.

This way when I am ready to cut one open, it has been sitting out and tastes much sweeter and is very juicy. The times that I forget to do this, I quickly realize how much better the fruit tastes when it has been left sitting out.

By John57 — On Jul 30, 2012

I live only a couple blocks from two different grocery stores, so only buy a few pieces of citrus fruit at a time. When you think about it, when you buy fresh fruit at the store, it is never refrigerated.

I like my citrus fruit at room temperature because feel like you get the best quality and flavor this way. For me, there is a big difference in the taste of eating an orange that has been sitting out on the counter vs one that comes out of the refrigerator.

I realize if I didn't stop at the store so frequently, I might have to refrigerate it more often, but for now, I don't mind buying fresh fruit every couple of days.

By sunshined — On Jul 30, 2012

When I bring home my citrus fruit from the store, I immediately put it in the refrigerator. After reading this article I realize that I am storing my citrus fruit incorrectly though.

Instead of storing it in a mesh bag, I have been using a plastic bag. No wonder the fruit seems to spoil too quickly. If one piece of fruit gets moldy, it doesn't take long for it to ruin every other piece in the bag.

I like to store my citrus fruit in the refrigerator because I feel like it lasts longer this way. I don't stop at the grocery store more than once a week, so think that by storing it in the refrigerator, it will last longer.

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