Once a specialist piece of equipment, the electric juicer has become a common item in home kitchens and might even be considered an essential by juicing enthusiasts. While you probably won't bring out the juicer when you just need a squeeze of lemon juice, it's the best tool to use when you need to extract the juice from a large number of lemons. You also need to know the best way to put a lemon through the juicer when including it in a custom fresh juice blend.
To Peel or Not to Peel?
An electric juicer can handle lemons peel and all. Put whole, halved or quartered lemons through the juicer, and you will get lemon juice. However, processing the peel with the fruit will give the resulting juice a very bitter flavor that most people find unpleasant. Bitter lemon juice also isn't appropriate for most recipes. Keep the bitter-tasting oils present in lemon peels out of the juice by peeling lemons before juicing them. There are several ways to do this:
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- Peel lemons as you would oranges, piercing the peel with a fingernail or knife, and then using your fingers to pull the peel off in pieces. This method preserves the most juice.
- Quarter the lemons and gently pull the fruit away from the peel. Try to keep the quartered lemon segments intact to preserve as much juice as possible.
- Slice the two narrow ends off the lemons with a sharp paring knife. Set the lemon on one of its cut ends on a cutting board, then slice away narrow sections of the peel vertically, following the shape of the lemon as you take the knife from top to bottom. Try to keep as much of the lemon intact as you can to avoid losing juice on your cutting board.
Don't worry about removing all of the pith -- the soft white layer between the fruit and peel. An electric juicer will effectively separate the pith, seeds and fibers of the lemon from its juice. The bitter-tasting oils in a lemon peel are all contained within the yellow part, so that is all you need to remove.
The FDA recommends washing all produce under cold running water, even if you are going to peel it. This is because contaminants on the skin can be transferred to the edible part of a fruit via a knife or your fingers.
Speedy Lemon Juicing
An electric juicer makes quick and easy work out of juicing as many lemons as you need. The only time-consuming part of the process is peeling the fruit beforehand and washing the juicer afterward. You should consult the manual for your particular model of juicer for specific instructions, but the steps are generally as follows:
Remove the plunger from the chute and fill the chute with whole, halved or quartered, peeled lemons.
Place a container for collecting the juice under the spout.
Turn the juicer on and gently press the lemons downward with the plunger.
Drop additional peeled lemons or lemon pieces into the chute and gently press them down with the plunger as the chute empties. The lemons should disappear quickly and you should soon see juice dripping out of the spout.
Leave the machine running for about 15 seconds after the last of the lemons have disappeared. This ensures you get as much juice as possible out of the fruit.
Wash the juicer as soon as possible after you finish juicing. If you wait, the remnants of the fruit and juice will dry onto the juicer parts, making cleanup more difficult.
Place a plastic bag inside the pulp collection part of the juicer for easier cleanup. The thin plastic produce bags from grocery stores are an ideal size for this.
Juicing lemons without an electric juicer is possible with a variety of alternative tools. Most are fine, even preferable, for juicing a small number of lemons. A manual handheld reamer is a ridged, pointed tool that you press into the flesh of a halved lemon. Turn the lemon with one hand and the reamer with the other, holding both over a container. A tabletop version of a manual reamer usually incorporates a strainer and cup for collecting the juice. Press a halved lemon down on the reamer and turn it until the juice is all extracted. Electric citrus juicers feature a spinning reamer. Cut lemons in half and press firmly down onto the reamer as it spins. Lemon squeezers extract the juice from halved lemons with a pressing mechanism.
Storing Lemon Juice
Store lemon juice in a sealed container in the refrigerator for two to three days. Any longer than this and while the juice may be safe to consume, its flavor will noticeably deteriorate. You can keep lemon juice in the freezer for three to four months without ill effects to the flavor. Freeze the juice in covered containers or sealable plastic bags. For handy, small portions, freeze the juice in ice cube trays, then transfer the frozen cubes to a sealable plastic bag.
Lemon Juice Uses
Include lemons in fresh juice blends for their fresh flavor and citrusy zing, or make homemade lemonade for a classic summer refresher. Use it in salad dressings, marinades and many savory dishes. Lemon juice pairs especially well with fish and chicken. Savory recipes that call for fresh lemon juice include:
- Avgolemeno, a Greek soup made with chicken, lemon juice and orzo, enriched with egg yolks.
- Aioli, a lemony, garlicky mayonnaise to use as a spread or dip
- Pilafs, risottos and grain salads such as tabbouleh
- In the broth for steamed mussels or clams
Desserts and other sweet treats showcasing fresh lemon juice include:
- Lemon curd
- Lemon bars
- Lemon-glazed pound cake
- Lemon meringue pie
- Frozen lemonade
Sometimes a recipe calls for the juice of one lemon. The standard measurement for the juice of one lemon is 3 tablespoons.
For 1 cup of lemon juice, you need five to six average lemons.