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.
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
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
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
A large lemon yields about a tablespoon of
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.