Saturday, February 9, 2008

Lemon Love

Fresh lemon is nirvana. I won't run to the store for it if it isn't part of the weekly grocery haul, but when I have them - yum. I've found ways to keep them around even when I'm not sure if I'll need them. Here's the scoop:

You can use lots of the lemon - but sometimes you don't need it all when a lemon is called for in a recipe.

If I just need zest, I'll make the poor guy look like a plucked chicken, put the lemon itself a storage bag and put it in the refrigerator. For a fine zest, there's a WONDERFUL tool made by Microplane. It's perfect for citrus rinds AND ginger (I keep my ginger frozen and just shave off what I need, when I need it). This makes short work of the fruit and keeps my fingers in tact.

If I need the juice, I'll zest the lemon onto some parchment paper and plop it in the freezer for a few minutes (don't abandon it - it could take on the flavors of the freezer) and then bag it up. I have an antique "juicer", round, glass, little handle and lip to pour with (just like mom's). I've found if I zest first, I can get more juice out of the lemon.

I put any leftover lemon juice in a snack size Baggie (sorry - storage bag) and lay it in the freezer. Soon, I can stack it under any other that I've tucked in the icebox.

The 'Net says 3-4 tablespoons of juice typically come from a large lemon, but I've found, at least with my zesting habit, that I get 5-6. I start my recipes with 3 and add more if the taste dicates it. It typically takes less fresh juice to enhance a recipe than the bottled.

And about bottled lemon peel/rind - ugh - there's no substituting the taste of real zest. Do this instead of buying the lemon rind at the store....put the bottle back on the shelf, go buy a lemon or two. After leaving the grocery store head to Bed Bath and Beyond and get your zester instead. You'll pay a little more for the zester than the bottle of spice, but only once. Your spice cabinet will thank you and so will your family/guests. Trust me on this one - I tried every permeation of avoidance there was. Just don't.

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