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Ingredient

Lemons

lemons

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What is it?

A bright yellow citrus fruit, tart lemons brighten both sweet treats and savory dishes. More than 90% of the time they are one of two varieties, Lisbon and Eureka, which are the most common varieties grown in California and Arizona. The two are virtually indistinguishable to most shoppers and have a common flavor profile: the tart, acidic flavor we associate with lemons. A third supermarket variety, Bearss, is grown in Florida and is also quite similar in flavor.

Kitchen math:

1 medium lemon= 4 to 5 Tbs. juice and about 2 Tbs. lightly packed zest if grated with a rasp-style .

Don’t have it?

White wine can sub for lemon when a splash is called for to brighten a sauce or deglaze a pan. In baking, you can try subbing other citrus, though the flavor will be different.

How to choose:

As with all citrus, the winter months are the height of the lemon season, and this is a good time to take advantage of plentiful fruits at good prices. The juiciest lemons tend to be those with thin skins. If the lemon skin is smooth rather than textured, that’s a tip-off that the skin is thin. And small to medium-size lemons are generally thinner skinned than large ones.

How to prep:

For zest: Thick-skinned lemons, which tend to have pebbly-textured skin, are easiest to zest. Before zesting, scrub the lemon’s skin well to remove any residue (a soak in warm water can help remove any wax coating). Remove just the thin yellow layer of rind, not the white pith below. Use a vegetable peeler to get wide strips of zest and a rasp-style grater for finely grated zest.

For juice: Juicers or reamers will extract the maximum amount of juice. Another tip for getting more juice: first roll the lemon on the counter and then microwave for 30 seconds.

How to store:

Store in the refigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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  • User avater
    sbreckenridge | 12/16/2011

    @ddavis: you can freeze lemon zest too--just seal it well in a heavy duty ziplock bag.

  • ddavis3 | 11/28/2011

    I have a bunch of lemons that I don't want to waste - I know I can freeze the juice, is there a way to preserve the zest for later use?

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