Does Lemon Extract Go Bad?

Lemon extract is an aromatic cooking extract made from the essential oil of fresh lemons. It is commonly used in bread, cakes, sauces, custards, and other recipes where the lemon flavor is desired. People used to stack lemon extract in the kitchen because they want to keep it handy whenever they need it. Hence, many people are curious if does lemon extract goes bad? Here’s what I got:

Since the lemon extract is made with alcohol, it acts as a preservative; therefore, the lemon extract does not technically expire. Also, if you keep the bottle or the container of lemon extract tightly sealed and away from direct light or heat, it will retain its flavor better and will not go bad.

That’s why many people say that lemon extract smells like alcohol because it is made with alcohol. This potent flavoring is used in small amounts. You can use this extract in everything from cookies, cakes, and even drinks and beverages.

How Long Does Pure Lemon Extract Last?

The precise answer depends to a large extent on storage conditions.

To maximize the shelf life of lemon extract, store it in a cool, dark cupboard, away from direct sunlight and heat. If it is stored at room temperature, the lemon extract will stay at the best quality for about 3 to 4 years.

lemon extract

When storing the lemon extract, make sure that the container is tightly closed when not in use you can tell that the lemon extract is no longer good to use once the extract develops an off odor, flavor, and appearance. Hence, you should discard it immediately.

There are some cases where the lemon extract is still safe to use after the expiry date, provided that it is stored properly and the packaging is undamaged.

Commercially packaged lemon extract typically indicates a “Best By”, “Best if Used By”, Best Before”, or “Best When Used By’ date, but take note that this is not a safety date. It is the manufacturer’s estimate of how long the lemon extract will remain at peak quality.

How To Make Lemon Extract

Lemon extract always reminds me of liquid sunshine. The bright flavor is suitable for making poppyseed muffins and lemon bread with a touch of vanilla glaze, which is so easy to make.

The lemon extract also makes a perfect gift for people who love food, either on its own or paired with some homemade vanilla extract. So when life gives you lemons, make a lemon extract.

Before, we move with the process of making lemon extract, here are some tips that can help you:

  • Before you squeeze the lemon into your water, use a lemon zester to get rid of the precious rind from the outside. Keep in mind that it is much harder to remove once the lemon has been squeezed. Also, remove only the yellow part, not the bitter white pith underneath.
  • If you are only using one lemon or two at a time, place the zest in the bag or container in the freezer and continue adding to it until you have enough to fill a small or large jar.

Vodka is often used to make a lemon extract. It is made from genetically modified corn and enzymes derived from genetically modified organisms. Manufacturers indicate that none of the genetic material makes it through the distillation process up until the final product.

Organic options are hard to find, but certain sources are still likely to be GMO-free. Potato-based vodkas are naturally gluten-free and non-GMO.

Lemon Extract Recipe


  • 2 pounds organic lemons
  • 3 cups 80 or 100-proof vodka


  1. Wash the lemons properly and dry the lemons completely.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler or zester, cut the thin slivers of the yellow skin in long ribbons. Make sure not to peel off the bitter white pith, just the outside will do.
  3. Choose a jar that will be about ¾ filled by the peels when they are placed inside. Add the peels to the jar and pour in vodka or glycerin. Add a lid and shake well.
  4. Place the jar in a dark cabinet for 4 to 6 weeks. Shake every few days for the first week, then occasionally after that.
  5. Once the extract has reached the intensity you prefer, strain the peels and pour the extract into a clean jar. Remember that glycerin takes longer to ripen than alcohol; therefore, it may need longer than six weeks, depending on the ambient temperature of the home and how strong you want it to be.
  6. Once ready, store the extract in a dark cabinet or the fridge.

Related Article: 16 Best Maple Extract Substitutes

Top 3 Lemon Extract Substitutes

Just because something is lemon-flavored does not necessarily mean it is a great substitute for lemon extract. There are many factors to consider when replacing lemon extract. The most important are:

  • The consistency of the final product
  • The taste of the final product
  • The texture of the final product

Since we are working with acidic ingredients, some substitutes can curdle dairy that can lead to a failing recipe. Some substitutions can have a weaker taste and need to be used in greater amounts and can affect the cooking and setting times.

No worries, there are solutions. Listed below are some great replacements for lemon extract.

Lemon zest

Lemon zest comes from the finely grated skin peel of the lemon.

You can achieve this by using a zester or the finest side of a box grater.

However, be careful when using this because you can grate the pith or the white part underneath the skin. The taste of this pith is extremely bitter and can carry that taste through the cooking process.

Lemon zest is by far the best substitute for lemon extract and other lemon flavorings. It is not acidic and the flavor is very concentrated, just like lemon extract.

It is not in the form of liquid, meaning you can add plenty of extra zest without possibly changing the consistency of the dish and dessert. It does not cause any dairy to curdle due to the lack of acidity.

Another bonus is that you can still keep the lemons after zesting them, especially using many lemons as possible and reducing food wastage. You can substitute the lemon extract with an equal part of lemon zest and easily add more to alter the flavor.

Lemon juice

If you want to get the most authentic flavor, freshly squeezed lemon juice is the key.

It is more tart and acidic than lemon extract.

However, the lemon extract is much more concentrated than lemon juice so you will need to use more juice than extract to achieve the same flavor. You can substitute 1 teaspoon of lemon extract with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Though you can use lemon juice as a substitute for dressing, marinades, and pickles, it is not suitable for baking goodies, desserts, and many more. It is because you need to use many lemon juices, thus increasing the volume of liquid and can change the recipe.

You can solve this problem by removing the difference from another liquid ingredient.

Lemon essence

Lemon essence is a product made from artificial colorants, flavorings, and other chemical components. Lemon extract is extracted directly from the lemon itself.

However, lemon essence has some advantages.

First, it lasts much longer than lemon extract.

It is a budget-friendly product and very easy to find. It can also add a yellow hue to the product that can liven some desserts.

To use this as a substitute, there is not an exact ratio on how to use it because it is made from artificial flavoring that can vary. Every brand of essence will have an entirely different taste, some will taste like real lemons and are very concentrated while other brands are bland and diluted.

This is my favorite lemon essence brand:

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