Lemons for freezing image

Making juice when the lemons shine

Lemons for freezing image
Gorgeous lemons at 4/$1.00 can provide winter stock.

I stumbled across big, beautiful lemons at 4/$1.00. These were significantly larger than average, heavy with juice and without flaw. I use lemon juice frequently, but not enough that stocking up would net me any savings. However, you can freeze lemon juice and rind. Not only does that let you take advantage of the great lemon deal, but also guarantees that you will have that 1 tbsp of lemon juice or 1 tsp of rind on hand no matter how long you have avoided grocery shopping.

Wash your lemons. I use warm to hot water and soap to wash lemons when I am using the rind. Rinse well. I’m not a fanatic about cleaning produce, but I want to scrub off any residual pesticide when I am using any rind.

I grated the lemon peel while the lemons were still whole, and did not work especially hard to retrieve every scrap of rind. I use much less rind than juice. Spread the rind on a plate lined with plastic wrap and placed in the freezer until it was frozen. By freezing it flat and then placing in a bag, you can measure frozen rind in the same way as fresh.

Lemon zest for freezing image
Grate lemon rind from lemons before cutting to juice.

Grated zest on a plate for freezing

Once your rind is prepared, cut lemons in half and squeeze juice. For many years, I have used a simple plastic juicer. The sharp plastic ribs make short work of squeezing the juice and the container below captures up to a cup of juice. Note: Knowing my buying habits, I probably picked this up for a few dollars. You do not need complicated or expensive equipment to cook real food.

Lemon juicer preparing lemon juice for freezing image
Simple, inexpensive plastic lemon juicer makes short work of many lemons.

Lemon juice in ice-cube tray for freezing photo
I measure only the first cube of juice and estimate by eye for the rest of the tray.

I use ice-cube trays to freeze 1 tbsp of juice. I measure the first tablespoon, but once I see where that measure comes to in the tray section, I fill the rest to the same level. I am never concerned with perfection with this measure, as the amount of lemon juice is usually flexible.I also use my regular ice-cube trays for freezing lemon or lime juice. I use ice almost exclusively for ice water, and a little residual lemon or lime flavor transfer is not a problem.

Note: If you are saving lemon for baking, you may prefer to use sandwich bags to freeze the amount you generally use for a recipe. Freeze the bag flat on a cookie sheet, then place several bags of juice in a freezer bag. Often baking calls for lemon zest as well as juice. One lemon and zest would be approximately ¼ cup of juice and 1 tsp rind. You can simply add the required amount of zest to the measured juice and have the mixture ready to go.

Lemon juice in freezer bag photo
Lemon juice cubes and lemon rind frozen, bagged and ready to use.

Freeze the trays and then pop the cubes into a freezer bag, label and return to freezer. My eight lemons on this round netted me three trays, or 36 generous tablespoons of juice.

Using your saved lemon juice could not be easier. Simply take a cube and put it into a small bowl to thaw, or microwave for 20-30 seconds to thaw. If you require lemon juice for a cooked dish, simply pop the number of cubes you need right into the pot or skillet.

I’m headed back to the store today to buy at least eight more lemons. I may be bringing a couple of fresh lemon pies for the Christmas gathering this year. I won’t have the worry of finding decent lemons in December.



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