Lime Overtime
July 21, 2011 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Should I Eat It: Battle Lime Juice! I left the lime juice out overnight and just noticed it. It's pretty hot today, around 85ºF inside. The bottle says "refrigerate after opening". Verdict?
posted by ignignokt to Food & Drink (13 answers total)
Best answer: There is nothing that could have possibly happened to it. Lime juice is very acidic and does not easily spoil.
posted by Nomyte at 12:13 PM on July 21, 2011

Best answer: It'd probably be best to mix it with liberal amounts of gin. You know, to be safe.
posted by theodolite at 12:15 PM on July 21, 2011 [69 favorites]

Best answer: If it didn't change consistency, it's fine. If it did, someone will probably tell me I shouldn't have thrown out that bottle of lime juice that changed consistency.
posted by griphus at 12:17 PM on July 21, 2011

Response by poster: OK! Thanks, guys. Yup, consistency's still juice-like, and I tried a bit of it just now: Still tastes like lime juice.

Is lime juice more acidic than orange juice? Because I'm pretty sure you can't leave that stuff out over night.
posted by ignignokt at 12:20 PM on July 21, 2011

A quick google tells me that lime juice runs from 2-2.35 ph vs orange juice's 3.5, so yes, it is more acidic.
posted by Zophi at 12:24 PM on July 21, 2011

Response by poster: Oh, looks like orange juice usually has a pH of 3.5, while lime juice is at 2.2-2.4.
posted by ignignokt at 12:25 PM on July 21, 2011

Lime juice also has less sugar in it than other fruit juices (except unsweetened cranberry juice, which has even less). So even discounting the pH, it's still not as fertile a breeding ground for bacteria as most juices.
posted by aubilenon at 12:29 PM on July 21, 2011

Pretty sure this is one of those times it's a "is it still good?" question rather than a "is it still safe?" question, so if it smells and tastes ok, I think you should go for it!
posted by crabintheocean at 12:46 PM on July 21, 2011

Best answer: Just because it won't make you sick doesn't mean it's good. Fresh lime juice goes downhill rapidly in terms of flavor and scent. You can make it last a bit longer by refrigeration, freezing, or minimizing contact with oxygen. Bottled juice from concentrate might last a day after opening without refrigeration. But in your case, it doesn't sound like anything I'd want to drink. Also, it will possibly get worse if you mix it with anything. You could try to dilute a bit with water to minimize acid so you can taste it and to free up some of the scent. If it smells or tastes off (probably metallic), get rid of it.

See, for example, the Tiki Central forums. This problem is one reason some people clarify lime juice.
posted by Hylas at 12:48 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Two competing answers:

1- fruits sit in trees in the hot sun all day. What could go wrong?

2- they rot practically the instant they hit the ground. What couldn't go wrong??

Hylas is right. The VOCs in the fruit juice (of which citrus is chocked full) will oxidize (go rancid), evaporate and degrade. Safe? Yes. Will things made from it taste sort of like cardboard? More likely the longer it is left out.
posted by gjc at 5:53 PM on July 21, 2011

In the future, you could always contact the company. I once had a package of beef jerky, and about a week after I opened it I noticed it said "refrigerate after opening." I emailed the company who wrote back to say it was only for quality reasons, there was nothing harmful about it.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:42 PM on July 21, 2011

Fresh lime juice does go downhill easily.

Bottled lime juice, though? The ph is guaranteed to be above a specified level (unlike a fresh lime) and it has preservatives. You're totally fine.
posted by desuetude at 9:28 PM on July 21, 2011

I keep bottled lime juice out of the fridge for months. Maybe it's not as delicious as cold, but it keeps the flavor for my purposes and it's never hurt me.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:47 AM on July 22, 2011

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