Tips from The Kitchn

The One Thing You Should Always Do Before Juicing a Lemon

Image Credit: Kelli Foster

When I'm in the groove, there are a bunch of little kitchen tasks I do that make me feel like I'm operating at peak productivity. The tasks range from making sure all the dishes are clean by the time I'm finished cooking — clean as you go, right? — to this little tip about prepping lemons.

Before I juice a lemon, I always zest it and add it to my zest stash in the freezer. Whenever a recipe calls for zest (or if I just need something to wake up a ho-hum recipe), I pop the bag out of the freezer and take how much I need — no fresh lemon required.

Image Credit: Emma Christensen

Freeze Your Citrus Zest for the Future

Before I juice a lemon or lime — and especially before I juice a Meyer Lemon — I run a Microplane over half the fruit. Then I add that big pile of fluffy zest (avoid the bitter pith) to the zip-top bag I keep in the freezer. I'll even peel the lemon sometimes and toss that in the bag too. This practice makes me feel less wasteful about the whole fruit, and I'm always really happy to have the zest in the freezer when a recipe calls for some — especially when no juice is required.

The zest lasts in the freezer for up to three months, so you've got time to both use it up and add to it. At the rate I go through lemons in my kitchen, I end up with a big bag of zest in my freezer that finds its way into baked goods, pastas, and even salads.

Have you tried this? What other smart prep tasks do you do in the kitchen? Let us know in the comments!