How to Zest, Juice and Freeze Lemons and Limes

By: Getty Stewart, PHEc, B.Ed., Author of Prairie Fruit Cookbook and www.GettyStewart.com

January to April is citrus season. The produce aisle is filled with fresh citrus fruit including limes, lemons, tangerines, clementines, Cara Cara oranges, Moro blood oranges, navel oranges, grapefruit and Honey Pomelo just to name a few. Not familiar with some of these varieties? Learn more in this article on 5 Varieties of Citrus.

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Not only will you find the freshest and juiciest citrus fruit this time of year, but you’ll also benefit from great prices. Bags of limes, lemons and oranges are great bargains. Store them properly and they’ll last for several weeks, giving you plenty of time to make your favorite recipes or preserve them for later use.

When it comes to limes and lemons, I like to freeze the zest and the juice for use when fresh citrus is harder to come by. Here are my techniques for zesting, juicing and freezing lemons and limes.

How to Zest, Juice and Freeze Lemons and Limes

1. Wash and scrub the outside of the citrus fruit very well.

2. Remove the zest (leaving the white, bitter pith behind) with a lemon zester or a microplane. A zester (shown with the lemon) will give you long thin strands while a microplane (shown with the lime) will give you small bits of zest.

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  3. Place zest in a small container or bag, label and freeze. Use in place of fresh zest called for in any recipe.

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4. Cut the citrus in half and squeeze out the juice using your favorite juicing tool. For tips on getting the most juice out of citrus read 4 Tips to Get More Juice from Citrus.

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5. Pour juice into ice cube tray and freeze.  Once cubes are frozen store in a well-sealed freezer bag or container. One cube is equivalent to about 1 Tablespoon.

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Can you freeze Whole Lemons and Limes?

Frozen whole lemons and limes are soft and mushy, being suitable only for juicing. But if you’re in a pinch, it can be done.

A better option would be to quarter or slice the lemons and limes (or other citrus) before freezing. Cut to desired shape and size, lay out on a baking sheet and freeze individual pieces. Once they are frozen, you can seal them in a freezer container and take out however many you need at a time. These frozen segments can be added to beverages such as fruit punch while still frozen. This option works well if you have leftover lemon or lime slices after hosting an event.

The Center for National Home Food Preservation also has recommendations for freezing citrus fruit segments in a simple syrup solution.

How to Use Frozen Zest and Juice?

Using frozen lemon or lime juice and zest is easy. Simply use as much frozen zest or juice as you would fresh in any recipe.

I like using a frozen lemon juice cube with honey ginger to soothe sore throats and frozen lime cubes in homemade guacamole. Both the frozen zest and juice work well in these Luscious Lime Bars.

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Getty Stewart is an engaging speaker and writer providing tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener. For more articles, recipes and tips on Making Home Cooking Easy and Enjoyable visit her blog at www.gettystewart.com.

Funding for this article provided by the Canadian Home Economics Foundation.

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