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A Squeeze of Lemon!

A Squeeze of Lemon!

Lemon juice is healthful and zesty.

By FamilyTime

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Lemons are such a commonplace ingredient in cooking, we rarely think twice about them. They are easy to find in the markets and easy to squeeze, which means you should never have to rely on the bottled juice again (except in a pinch!). Fresh juice is superior.

Lemon Zest

The most intensely flavored part of a lemon is the zest. This is the yellow skin of the rind, devoid of the bitter white pith, that stands between the skin and the flesh.

Once you begin adding a little grated zest to dishes, you will be hooked. It really is the most flavorful part of the fruit. Don't get carried away, though -- too much zest can taste bitter or overwhelming.

To remove the zest from the fruit, use a good grater or a very sharp knife. As soon as you grate or dice it, its volatile oils are released and it’s these oils that provide the concentrated lemon flavor.

A large lemon yields about a tablespoon of grated zest.

Before you "zest" a lemon, wash the fruit thoroughly under cool, running water. Even organically grown lemons may be coated with wax to preserve them during shipping and while the wax is water soluble, you probably don’t want it on the lemon skin when you cook with it.

Lemon Juice

A good sized lemon should release a tablespoon or two of juice. Before you squeeze the fruit, roll it on a hard surface, pressing firmly but gently on it to break down the inner membranes.

To extract the most juice, use a reamer with fluted ribs. Don’t be too rough with it, though, as you don’t want to break down any of the bitter, white pith on the inside of the skin. Manual citrus juicer work well, too.

Cold lemons will not release as much juice — or as readily — as room temperature fruit. If the lemons have been refrigerated, let them sit out for 20 to 30 minutes before squeezing them.

To Store Lemons

Lemons will keep at room temperature for about a week. In the refrigerator, they can last for up to a month. It’s advisable to keep them in plastic bags in the ‘fridge, but not necessary.

If you squeeze more juice than you need, freeze it in ice cube trays. It will be ready when you are!

Don't ignore lemons when you cook. Even if a recipe does not call for lemon juice or lemon zest, try it if it seems right to you. Experiment and have fun. Lemons are always around; make good use of them.

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