How to get the most flavor when squeezing lemons
Lemon juice is an essential ingredient in great cooking, making flavors pop in sweet and savory dishes from salad dressings to sauces, cocktails, casseroles, marinades and cakes. But it’s not always easy to get that flavor when getting the most out of lemon seems like a daunting task. Here are some tips and tricks for tackling those bright orbs of bright citrus.
Prepare your lemons for juice
To get the most juice out of the lemon, start by rolling it on your work surface, pressing down with your palm to help break up some of the cells and loosen the membranes. This trick makes the juicing process easier and helps you get the most juice possible out of the lemon.
Then take their temperature. I’m kidding, but when citrus peels are hot or cold, they harden and resist when you try to squeeze them to squeeze them. Microwaving for 15 or 20 seconds will soften those membranes, and you can actually get about 20 to 25% more juice out of those lemons. This is a great trick especially if you keep citrus in the fridge, but if you don’t want to explode your lemons, try and remember to have the lemons at room temperature before squeezing to get the most out of them.
Then, before I juice, I like to squeeze the lemon, even if I don’t need the grated lemon peel right away. Lemon peel is a magical ingredient that’s perfect as a bright garnish for everything from roasted vegetables to ice cream, and I hate to let any of it go to waste. Even if your recipe doesn’t call for lemon zest, take the opportunity to get the most out of the lemon. Remove all that lovely flavor with a peeler or mini grater before you juice so you always have flavor on hand. Lemon peel will keep for up to three days in the refrigerator or it can be dried or frozen and kept for several months.
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Make the right slide
There are a few different ways to slice lemons, depending on how you want to use the lemon juice. If you need every bit of juice, cut the lemon in half across the equator to expose the juicy interior.
If you want elegant lemon slices for people to use to finish drinks or food themselves as a final garnish, cut a “cheek” off each side of the lemon, leaving the lemon core behind. Easily squeezable lemon segments provide plenty of juice and contain no annoying seeds.
Get every drop of juice
You have several options for juicing the lemon once it is squeezed and cut in half. If you need more than a half cup of juice and you have an electric juicer, pull it out—it will save your hand and wrist. These juicers have a central attachment that rotates; Simply squeeze the lemon halves down to release the juice.
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If you don’t have an electric juicer, your best option is a manual juicer, which has a lever system to squeeze the juice from the lemon halves, and a screen or strainer to catch the seeds.
Or go with an old-fashioned lathe. Some punchers sit on top of a cup or bowl, or have a reservoir attached to catch the juice. Simply twist the lemon halves over the reamer to extract the juice. This often results in a lot of pulp and the seeds do not wrangle well. Portable expanders are another option. Holding the reamer in one hand and the lemon in the other, squeeze the reamer and twist it into the half of the lemon, then hold it over a bowl to catch the juice.
Even simpler is a hinged manual juicer that squeezes the juice from the lemon halves and retains most of the pips. I find that some of these juicers allow small seeds to escape, so you may want to squeeze them over a strainer.
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If you’re at a vacation home or Airbnb without juicing equipment, you still have options. You can also create a fork or spoon reamer by using the fork or spoon in the same way you would use a hand reamer. Check the quality of your silverware before using this trick, otherwise you may twist the tines of your fork or dislodge the bowl of your spoon from the handle.
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