Fresh lemon is an indispensable magic ingredient in our kitchens. Just a small amount of freshly squeezed lemon juice is enough to season a mayonnaise, flavor a dessert and enhance the flavor of tea.
We already know the affinity of lemon for fish and seafood dishes but it advantageously enhances several other dishes. A last-minute squeeze of lemon over boiled or braised leeks, sautéed mushrooms, or cooked converted rice works wonders. My children love lemon flavored rice so much that they even add extra to their servings. The sautéed or breaded veal cutlet cannot do without the lemon wedge.
The lemon originating from Southeast Asia is grown in countries with tropical and temperate climates. When the lemon began to be very popular in France, people got lemons from the ‘marchand d’aigrun” a merchant who exclusively sold citrus fruits. It was at that time that lemons became one of the main seasoning ingredients in cooking.
Cooking with lemon
It is essential to cook only with fresh lemons. Commercial bottled lemon juice is far too acidic, the flavor of which is completely different from fresh lemon juice.
Choose firm, heavy lemons for their size. The skin should be smooth and yellow with no tinge of greenery that indicates the fruit was picked before maturity.
Lemons will keep for 1 week at room temperature and 2 to 3 weeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Wash and dry the lemon before using it.
Remove the zest before squeezing the juice when a recipe is prepared with zest and juice.
For maximum juice, use a lemon at room temperature and roll it on a hard surface before juicing.
Since the acidity of lemons varies according to species and origin, it is a good idea to use a little less at to begin and add more if necessary, I do so especially when using it for seasoning at the end of cooking. This prevents the lemon from masking the flavor of the dish.
Lemon juice can replace vinegar in a salad dressing.
Freezing Lemon Juice and Zest
Take advantage of discounts to freeze freshly squeezed lemon juice in ice cube bags. Since the outside of the ice cube bag filled with juice becomes sticky, freeze the ice cube bag on a sheet before storing it in a plastic bag. A cube of juice is approximately 15 ml (1 tablespoon).
To freeze the lemon zest, peel the yellow part, avoiding the white part which is bitter. Leave to air dry for about 8 hours and freeze as is in small bags or reduce to fine particles in a food processor or blender. Alternatively you can only zest the fresh lemon before freezing it. The zest can be frozen in a small container for only 1 month after which it has lost a lot of aroma.
Lemon is an excellent source of vitamin C which is reduced by almost 20% when the squeezed juice has spent 8 hours at room temperature or 24 hours in the refrigerator.
If you watch the salt content of your diet, drizzle your food with lemon juice rather than sprinkling it with salt.
A Handy Kitchen tool
This utensil is practical for squeezing the juice of one or more citrus fruits.
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