Buy an electric citrus juicer. Every winter for the past five or six years my cooking students, Ray and Gloria McNally, have generously given me bags of fresh lemons from their trees. I’ve dutifully and tediously juiced them by hand using a wooden citrus reamer or a hand held lemon press.
Several times Ray has recommended I get an electric citrus juicer he got inexpensively from Fry’s Electronics for $12 to $18. This year I took him seriously. I figured that was a bargain compared to the price of the two massages I would probably need to relieve the ache of carpal tunnel syndrome that juicing that many lemons by hand was likely to aggravate.
I don’t live close to a Fry’s Electronics Store so I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond hoping to get a $15 citrus juicer I found on their online site. They were out of that one so I got the Cuisinart version. I paid a little more for the Cuisinart model but I knew it would be worth it. I own a Cuisinart convention toaster oven, crock pot, pressure cooker, mini chopper, three of their ice cream makers, a set of their grill tools, and their stainless steel pots and pans. I've been impressed with the quality and durability of all of their products.
Besides, I had a Bed, Bath and Beyond 20% off coupon and I knew either company would replace the machine if it failed. FYI: B, B & B coupons never expire. The store will honor they past the expiration date and allow you to use more than on $5 off coupon per visit. So back to the lemons taking up almost one-third of my prime refrigerator space.
I decided not to tackle only a portion of my lemon supply at one time. I wanted to see how long it would take to wash, halve, and juice 101 lemons, and get them into jars in the freezer. I set my collection of small mustard, sun-dried tomato, and canning jars along with a supply of empty vitamin bottles on the counter.
I rinsed the lemons in the sink, halved them in batches of 12 and placed them in a bowl next to my new citrus juicer. I reviewed the directions (always a good idea when you buy a new appliance) and got to work. In 90 minutes I juiced 101 lemons, producing 8 quarts of juice that I promptly poured into the jars with a narrow funnel.
How to freeze in glass jars
I use as little plastic as possible for food storage. I store most foods in glass jars or Pyrex and Corningware containers with lids, whether they’re destined for the fridge or freezer.
The key to freezing in glass is to leave an inch of space in the jar between the juice and the top of the jar if it has the same diameter top to bottom. If the jar narrows at the top, leave an inch of space below the place where the jar narrows so it won’t shatter during freezing when the liquid expands.
I chose small jars for the lemon juice so I would be likely to use each jar of thawed juice within a week––before it turns sour. When citrus juice turns sour it becomes so bitter and sharp that it can ruin a recipe. If this happens, don’t toss it—you can use it to soak casserole dishes, pots, and pans with baked-on or burned residues or to remove the doughy coating left on bowls, utensils, and food processors after mixing bread dough. You can also use it to clean your kitchen sink by mixing it with a little baking soda.
What can you do with the peels from your labor? Compost if you have a yard and garden. Rub the peels over your elbows to soften rough spots. Rub them on your face as an astringent before discarding them. If you have has many as I do and no where else to deposit them, you may have to just toss them.
If you live in a citrus growing region and you're growing tired of lemonade, here’s another idea from my previous cookbook, The Garden of Eating.
Remember, Lemon juice makes a great stand in for vinegar in this and many other recipes.
Lemonette–––alternative to vinaigrette
Prep: 10 minutes/ Yield: 3/4 cup; 6 servings
Replace vinegar with lemon juice and vinaigrette becomes Lemonette. A good rule of thumb for vinaigrette is 1 part (tablespoon) vinegar to 2 or 3 parts (tablespoons) oil. Use more oil relative to to vinegar if you prefer a less sour taste. Add a dash of honey if you want a sweet taste. Not just for tossed salads, this dressing tastes great with parboiled vegetables or as a seasoning for tabouli made from brown rice or quinoa.
FYI: Look for unrefined, virgin-pressed oils sold in dark bottles. Olive oil dressings thicken in the refrigerator. Store them in the side door or remove the bottle 15 to 20 minutes before serving to allow the mixture to liquefy or briefly run the bottle under warm water.
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, optional
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground black or white pepper, or to taste
1 tablespoon (raw, preferably local) honey, optional
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed, about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon finely ground, unrefined sea salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive, walnut, or flax oil or unrefined, untoasted sesame oil (such as Eden brand), or a combination of 2 or 3 oils
1 tablespoon warm water
1. Combine all of the ingredients except the water in blender or small food processor. Cover and process until smooth. With machine running, add 1 tablespoon warm water and blend again.
2. Taste, adjust as needed, then pour into small jar, and serve or cover and refrigerate.
3. Use within 2 weeks for best flavor.
2 tablespoons: 166 calories, 1/2 g carbohydrate, 18 grams fat
* Add 2/3 to 1 tablespoon Dijon, creamy white, or yellow mustard to the recipe above.
* Shallot Lemonette: Use garlic or omit. Increase pepper to 1/2 teaspoon, add 2 minced shallots, and 1 1/2 teaspoons dried, crumbled or 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil leaves.
* Shallot & Mustard Lemonette: Add 2 teaspoons Dijon or creamy white mustard to Shallot Vinaigrette.
* Italian Lemonette: Add 1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon each of dried, crumbled basil, oregano, and thyme or rosemary leaves.
* French Lemonette: Add 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard and 2 teaspoons dried or 2 rounded tablespoons minced fresh herbs (basil, thyme, chives, dill, oregano, parsley, or some combination).
* Mediterranean Lemonette: Add 2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley and 2 teaspoons minced fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried, crumbled thyme.
Source: The Garden of Eating: A Produce-Dominated Diet & Cookbook by Rachel Albert-Matesz & Don Matesz (Planetary Press 2004).