How to Steep a Lemon


Steeping a lemon in alcohol or oil allows the liquid to slowly absorb its flavors, creating a final product infused with a natural lemon taste. That way, you can enjoy lemon-infused alcohol or oil without the artificial ingredients or chemical preservatives that store-bought brands may use. With its natural zesty flavors, lemon is a common ingredient in both cooking and cocktail recipes, and by infusing other ingredients in your cabinet with lemons, you can make it even easier to give your food and drink an organic boost.

Things You'll Need

  • Vegetable brush
  • Clean, dry towels
  • Bottle with airtight seal
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Colander
  • Wash your lemons thoroughly, gently scrubbing the surface with a vegetable brush to remove residues, waxes and pesticides. Use about 8 to 10 for one large bottle. Dry them after to eliminate any surface moisture, which can cause bacterial growth during the steeping process.

  • Pour your olive oil or alcohol into a bottle with an airtight seal.

  • Peel the skin off of your lemons using a vegetable peeler. Remove as much of the pith -- the white part of the rind -- as possible. The pith will give your infusion an excessively bitter taste, so if any remains on the inside of your peeled skins, gently scrape it off with a paring knife.

  • Drop your lemon skins into the liquid and seal the bottle. Store the bottle either in your refrigerator or in a cool, dark place. It will be fully infused in about two weeks, but for a more subtle infusion, you can stop steeping the lemon after five to seven days.

  • Strain the liquid with a colander to remove the lemon peels. Discard the peels and bottle and refrigerate the liquid.

Tips & Warnings

  • Double-strain alcoholic infusions to remove any smaller lemon particles. After straining in a colander, pour your liquid through a coffee filter.
  • Add simple syrup -- made from sugar cooked in water -- to your alcohol to create homemade limoncello, a sweet, lemon-flavored liqueur.
  • Refrigerated olive oil infusions last about one month, while vodka infusions last about two months.

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