Daily Archives: April 9, 2010
I am a certified lemon lover.? If it’s made with lemons (pretty much) I love it.
Yesterday I was zesting and juicing lemons for the freezer and it occured to me that it might be fun to have a post about lemons and their various uses, tips and tricks in the kitchen, and a recipe or two.
Did you know you can freeze fresh lemon zest? And orange zest too for that matter.? I don’t know when I discovered this, I read about it somewhere and have been doing it ever since.? I much prefer freshly grated, frozen lemon zest to dried.? The difference in flavor is night and day.? It’s like the dried stuff has the ghost of lemon flavor in comparison.
I bought a bag of 9 lemons from Gordon Food Service recently and it yielded 3/4 cup lemon zest (approximately 1 Tbsp. of zest per lemon.)? You can freeze it one of two ways.? The first way is to just toss it in a ziploc bag, label, date and freeze it.? The alternative is to spread the zest out on a cookie sheet and keep it in the freezer until it’s solid,?then follow the first method.? This keeps the zest more nicely seperated for easy measuring later.
I use a Microplane Zester to zest my citrus.? This little baby is the key to so much fresh citrus flavor.? I shudder to think of the olden days, before I had a Microplane…zesting was such a pain in the rear I resorted to using (gasp!) dried zest.? I know, I know…I hang my head in shame just thinking about it.
When selecting lemons, I try to find lemons that feel a tad bit squishy.? Not mushy like they’re on the verge of rotting, but soft.? This is because it’s an indication that the pith is thinner and the lemons will yield more juice.? What’s a pith, you ask? The pith of a lemon is the pale, whitish,?bitter membrane located just below the flavorful zest.? Think of it as the Mr. Hyde of the lemon universe.? It’s very nasty tasting in it’s natural state, and you want to avoid it while zesting.? See the photo below for a close up of the pith in all it’s bitter glory.? I know it looks pretty, all creamy with a hint of yellow…but don’t let it fool you–it does not taste good.
This batch of lemons yielded 1 3/4 cup of fresh lemon juice.? That’s a lot of tart, golden goodness from just 9 lemons.? You can usually expect between 1/8 and 1/4 C. of lemon juice per lemon, if they’re an average size.
If I’m freezing lemon juice, I like to pour the liquid into icecube trays.? Each cube is about 1/4 cup of juice, enough for most recipes, and easy to measure should you need more.? Once they’re frozen, I remove them from the trays and store them in a quart size freezer bag, labeled and dated. (Do you see a pattern here? Labeled and dated…labeled and dated…yes, I have worked in the food service industry for a very long time…but more to the point, it satisfies my need to be organized.)
Add 1 tablespoon of fresh?lemon zest along with 1/4 of fresh lemon juice to your next batch of strawberry jam.? I call this “Heirloom Strawberry Jam”, a la the Ball?Blue Book of Preserving.
Here are a couple of yummy lemon recipe options:
Lemon Meltaways…these are just divine.
Tips and Tricks
This tip comes from my best friend Andrea: When cleaning your microwave, add a few slices of lemon along with a very wet paper towel, microwave for two minutes and let sit for five minutes.? Open microwave, dispose of lemon slices and use the paper towel to wipe clean.? I do this too, and have found it removes stubborn odors, like popcorn.
When you’re done juicing your lemons, you can boil the carcasses in two quarts of water for 15 minutes and let it steep for a few hours.? Cool completely,?discard the lemons,??and store in a gallon jug or other container you can keep handy in the shower…it makes a wonderful hair rinse that will get your hair very clean.
Alternately, if making a hair rinse doesn’t do it for you and you have a garbage disposal, toss the lemon carcasses into your disposal, run the cold water and turn the disposal on.? The lemons will clean your disposal and make it smell great.
Do you have any recipes, tips or tricks for using lemons? Share them in the comment section, I look forward to hearing from you!