Citrus is one of a chef’s secret weapons. It immediately elevates any dish it is added to, by bringing brightness and acidity. I use fresh lemon or lime juice and/or zest in almost ALL of my recipes (seriously, just browse a few and you’ll see!), so I wanted to create a post that showed how to properly utilize and store both the juice and zest from citrus for maximum longevity and ease of use.
I first realized how important citrus was to cooking about six years ago. I was working as a nanny for a family that cooked a lot. And when I say a lot, I mean the mum was a classically trained chef who had worked at some of the most prestigious restaurants in Canada. Her husband, though not classically trained, was also an incredible cook. They always had overflowing bowls of beautiful, organic lemons and limes on the counter. When I first started working for them, I thought, “Man, this fam likes their citrus!” But once I saw how they used all those gorgeous yellows and greenies, I realized they were just doing what is necessary to make a dish complete.
However, I noticed that if the lemons or limes didn’t get used within a relatively short timeline, they would either go hard as a rock or start to mould. I absolutely hate to waste any bit of food, so I decided to try separating the juice from the pulp to see if it would last longer.
And oh mama, does it ever!! When you remove the juice from citrus, and store it in a clean, sealed glass container in the fridge, it lasts for months!! What’s more, is that the zest, if stored in an air-tight bag in the fridge, also lasts for eons!! The juice is fresh, tart, and free of that yucky preservative taste you get from store-bought citrus juice. The zest is also fresh and bright, and goes amazingly in not only tons of sauces and dressings, but on top of parfaits and puddings and ice cream and… oyyyshaboysha, salivation station!!
When you zest the lemons or limes, make sure to only take the top coloured layer. You do not want to grate any of the pith. That is the white, spongy layer right below the zest. It is very bitter, and will cloud the brightness you get from the zest.
Also, make sure that when you make more lemon or lime juice, always use a fresh, clean container. This will maximize storage length.
It is an absolute cooking game-changer when you are making a recipe that calls for fresh citrus juice or zest, and you don’t have to spend 10 minutes cutting, squeezing, straining, and measuring the goods. When you can simply open the fridge or freezer, spoon out the amount needed, and carry on with your recipe, it is SO gaddamn satisfying!!
Not only do B and I add citrus to almost all of our meals, but we pour fresh lime juice in our ginger tea in the morning, and in our club soda at night. Since we have cut alcohol out of our lives, having something tart and sour to sip on completely satisfies the itch that sour beer and gin cocktails used to scratch.
I cannot wait for the moment after you start implementing this tip where you say to yourself, “Why haven’t I been doing this all along?!” It happened to me, and it was, and remains, bloody amazing.
So folks, let’s get out those bags of beautiful, organic lemmies and limies, and get to work!!
How To Utilize & Store Fresh Citrus Juice & Zest
In this helpful how-to, I show you how to properly utilize and store fresh citrus juice and zest to make cooking SO much easier, your dishes SO much better, and so you never have to use store-bought preservative-packed juice EVER AGAIN!
- 8-10 large organic lemons or limes
Using a microplaner, zest all of the lemons or limes onto a cutting board, making sure to only get the top layer of coloured zest, and not the white layer below. That is the pith, and it is very bitter.
Once you have zested all your citrus, put the zest into a ziploc bag. Suck as much air out as possible before sealing and placing in the freezer.
Zest will stay fresh and flavourful for up to 6 months in the freezer.
Once all the lemons are zested, firmly press your palm down onto one and roll it back and forth a few times to get the juices flowing.
Slice in half with a knife, and juice it over a bowl with a mesh strainer on top to catch the pulp and seeds.
Once all the lemons have been juiced, use a spoon to work as much juice from the remaining pulp mixture in the strainer into the bowl below.
Compost the seeds and pulp.
Pour the fresh lemon juice into a clean glass jar, using a funnel if necessary.
Seal tightly with a lid, and put in the fridge.
Juice stays fresh for up to 3 months in the fridge.
Add the juice and zest to SO many dishes for instant freshness, vibrancy, and deliciousness!
As always, nutritional information is a rough estimate, is for 1 cup of lemon juice, and excludes the zest. For a full explanation of nutritional analysis, please read our Disclaimer.
If you made this recipe, I would be so honoured if you could rate it, share it, and leave a comment. Also, don’t forget to take a photo, tag @thedeliciousmanifest on Instagram, and hashtag it #thedeliciousmanifest. Thank you so much!
Looking for more amazing kitchen tips? Check out my Interview With A Knife Expert. In it, I chat with Brandon Hayter of BH Craft to learn some incredible tips for the cook’s most important tool: the knife.