Thursday, January 31, 2013

How to juice a lemon

       Fresh lemon juice is one of those little secrets that takes your food from good to why hello there! A squeeze of lemon juice is a great touch to many dishes, and really brightens the flavors of sauteed chicken or fish, for example. I have a soft spot for the ol' lemon, as it's the nickname of one of my favorite characters on TV (Liz Lemon from 30 Rock), but perhaps more importantly, lemons factored into the Mediterranean cooking that I was brought up with. My parents are from Italy and Montenegro, and some of the best meals that I ate growing up usually contained extra virgin olive oil, lots of garlic, and lemon.
How to juice lemons, or any other citrus:
1. Wash the lemon to remove any dirt/impurities on the surface. This way your knife won't transfer the germs from the skin into the lemon. 
2. Firmly roll the lemon on the counter with your hands to loosen the membrane of the lemon. This makes it much easier to handle, and is kind of fun.
3. Take one lemon half, and insert a fork into the cut side. Hold the fork firmly, and squeeze and turn the lemon against it. When you have gotten all the juice you can out of it, take the fork out, and wipe it against the cut side of the lemon to get any extra juice off.
If you don't want to use a fork, you can use a hand juicer, like the one pictured below. Glass hand juicers are beautiful, and I'm not one to wax poetic about kitchen accessories. Wait a second...  

 You can also use a lemon/citrus press, which works very well.
     Alternatively, you could use a paring knife to cut a small hole right at the point of the lemon to turn it into a little bottle. All you have to do is squeeze, and it will keep most of the seeds in the lemon. This method yields a little bit less juice than the fork method, but it is neater. 
Et voila- a little vessel for your juicing needs.
1. If the recipe calls for lemon zest, zest the lemon before rolling on the counter and slicing. 
2. If you want to have lemon zest handy, zest the lemon, roll it up in some plastic wrap, and pop into the freezer. You could also freeze it into an ice cube with water, and use for future recipes. 
As my friend Rebecca says, "waste not, want not". 

Since we're on the topic of storing things in the freezer, when you have a recipe that calls for egg whites, don't throw out the yolks! Put them in a small container, and freeze them for future creme brulees. Being efficient never tasted so good. 

Picture credits:
hamad M / CC BY-NC
chotda / / CC BY-NC-ND
f1uffster (Jeanie) / / CC BY-NC-ND
knittinandnoodlin / / CC BY-NC-SA

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