May 14, 2013

All About Freezing Lemons and Limes

At one time in my life, I relied on ReaLemon for most of my lemon juice needs. They leave that extra "L" out for a reason (it's from concentrate). Lemons can be expensive though. And if you don't use them quick enough, they can get moldy. Seriously, what happened to the price of lemons? Back in my day, you could get a lemon for a nickle. No, maybe that was bubblegum...

All About Freezing Lemons and Limes (juice, zest, slices, etc.)

So when I can, I buy lemons in bulk when they are on sale or cheaper than usual. I don't want the lemons to go to waste, so I freeze some of the juice so I can always have fresh juice on hand. (If you want to zest and juice your limes and maybe oranges, do that too.) Now, I know someone is thinking, "I don't have time to juice a bunch of lemons." And that's okay. If you buy lemon juice in a bottle and decide not to buy ReaLemon, here are a few other options: Santa Cruz Organic Lemon Juice and Volcano Lemon Juice. (This one I actually found at the base commissary for $5 for a large bottle. Supposedly it can be found at Costco.)

Freezing Lemon Zest

Let's start with the zest. Because it just makes sense. I prefer to buy organic lemons if I plan to zest them because conventional lemons are typically sprayed with pesticides and coated with wax. (If you can't buy organic, just clean them well.) But I also like to wait until I get them on sale or buy a large bag of them. Regardless of which you use, wash and dry them before zesting. I use vinegar and water to wash them, then scrub them with a produce brush.

Okay, now zest your lemons. Leave the white (bitter) part behind.

I use a microplane zester which I finally broke down and bought. You can zest with a knife, very carefully...but I don't recommend it. If you want lemon zest (or orange or lime zest), don't be stubborn like me. Just buy a zester. They are very reasonably priced for the use you get out of them (I use mine to grate ginger and garlic).

Place zest in a freezer safe container and stick it in the freezer until ready to use (maybe to make some of these brussels sprout chips). Done. I use these half-pint Ball jars to freeze mine, but any freezer safe container will work.

(If you don't want to freeze the juice, zested lemons can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.)

All About Freezing Lemons and Limes (juice, zest, slices, etc.)

Freezing Citrus Juice

Cut lemons in half or quarters and juice them. This is the juicer I use. But there are many juicer options: like this stainless steel one, or ones that hold the juice (want), or this basic juicer. Or you can most certainly use your hands to squeeze all that juice out. I've done it. Catch the seeds with your other hand. (If you have eczema on your hands, you will want to avoid doing this with your hands.)

Freezing the juice: Use ice trays (Regular ice trays are about 2 tbsp each. I use these baby food trays which are about 1.5 tbsp each.) or muffin tins. Freeze the juice, then pop them out (run a little water underneath the muffin tins to get them to fall out) and place in a freezer bag for storage.

Optional: Add mint leaves or strawberry slices (or other fruit) to each ice cube filled with lemon juice. 

Uses: Drop a cube in a glass of water or large ones in a jug of water or tea. Throw a cube in a smoothie. Place in container and allow to melt to use in cooking or baking (like making this lemon vinaigrette or this creamy one.)

All About Freezing Lemons and Limes (juice, zest, slices, etc.)

Freezing Citrus Slices and Wedges

Without water: cut lemon into slices or wedges and flash freeze if desired (to keep from sticking together). Freeze on a baking sheet or in muffin tins. Once frozen, stick them in freezer bags.

All About Freezing Lemons and Limes (juice, zest, slices, etc.)

With water: Freeze slices with water in muffin tins. I add a few slices to each muffin tin and add water. Freeze then run a little water under the bottom of the tin until they fall out (over the sink or a bowl). Store in freezer bag.

Uses: Add large cubes/slices to large drinks (jugs of water, tea, etc.). For slices and wedges without water, use in drinks or let them sit out to defrost and squeeze the juice for other uses.

All About Freezing Lemons and Limes (juice, zest, slices, etc.)

Some random lemon tips:
  • While lemons are usually stored at room temp, if you store them in a closed storage bag in refrigerator, they will last longer.
  • To get more juice from your lemons: Bring to room temp and using your palm, roll lemon on counter a few times before cutting. (You could also stick in microwave for a few seconds to release more juice.)
  • One medium lemon equals approximately 2 tbsp of lemon juice and 1 tbsp of zest (1 tsp for smaller lemons).

Other Storage Posts
Recipes using citrus (I love citrus if you can't tell.):

Products you might need:

Shared at: Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Allergy Free Wednesdays, and Fat Tuesday 

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