Kitchen Hints and Tips # 10 … A Simple Guide to Freezing Lemons …

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As you know, I love to bake and lemon juice and lemon zest are two common ingredients that a lot of recipes call for. Store bought lemon juice is always an option, particularly if you have it in the fridge, but I often find it expires before I get to use the whole bottle and I usually end up tipping a lot of it down the sink. It’s not that hard to prepare but the result is a ready supply of beautiful fresh lemon juice and lemon zest minus any chemicals or preservatives.


Buying lemons when they are in season will generally be cheaper making it a great way to preserve the fruit, reduce waste and have a ready supply of refreshing lemon juice, lemon slices and lemon zest ready to use in my freezer. Many recipes, however, don’t need juice or zest from the whole lemon, so this is a fantastic way to use up the leftovers rather than throwing out a sad, shriveled up half lemon weeks down the track.


Here’s what I do:


  • Prepare the lemons. Soak the lemons for approximately 15 minutes in a solution of 10% vinegar and 90% water to remove any chemicals or pesticides that could be on the skin of the lemon. Rinse thoroughly under the tap and pat dry with either paper towel or a clean tea towel. A soft bristled tooth brush is also a great way to remove anything on the skin of the lemon before rinsing.


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  • Zest the skin. Place the lemon zest in a zip lock bag. Don’t drop it in and freeze in a big lump as this will make it harder to use when needed. Spread the zest out inside the bag, seal the bag (removing as much air as possible) and place flat in the freezer. When required, the frozen zest will break up easily and can be measured as required, whether you need a teaspoonful or a tablespoonful.


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  • Freeze slices or wedges. These can be used in a glass of water or iced tea to both chill it and add a hint of lemon. Slice the lemons or cut into wedges, place on an oven tray lined with baking paper, spreading out the slices and wedges so they don’t freeze into one large clump. Place in the freezer until frozen (usually an hour or 2), then store in a zip lock bag until needed. Frozen slices are ideal as a garnish on the top of a cake, simply remove the number of slices needed and defrost on paper towel as this will mop up any excess liquid. Place on top of your cake and bake as per the recipe instructions.


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  • Freeze the juice. Juice the lemons, either by hand or using an electric juicer. You can then pour the juice through a strainer to remove the pulp and seeds, it’s up to you. I don’t tend to strain my juice because I like the texture of the pulp. Pour the juice into a clean ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, store the cubes of lemon juice in a zip lock bag until needed. When pouring the juice into an ice cube tray, measure the volume of the first cube, so you can accurately make the cubes the size you need. Ice cube trays vary in size and will hold anywhere from 1 – 2 tablespoons of liquid. Write the size of the cube e.g. “each cube = 2 tablespoons” on the outside of the zip lock back to remind you when you need them for baking.



  • Freeze the whole lemon. If you’re pressed for time and can’t zest, slice or juice your lemons, they can still be frozen whole. Simply place them in a zip lock bag, remove any excess air and freeze. To defrost, place the lemons in the fridge or submerge them in a bowl of cold water for 10 – 15 minutes to speed up the process. Once defrosted, the lemons will most likely be mushy and unsuitable to slice but they can still be juiced and the rind zested as usual.


Also, don’t waste the leftover shell of the lemon once it’s been zested and juiced. Sprinkle with a little salt and then use it to clean and polish your taps or a stainless steel sink. Drop the remains down the garbage disposal and that will freshen the drain as well leaving you with a fresh, citrusy smelling kitchen.


Lemons will generally last approximately 2 weeks in the fridge if left fresh or up to 4 months if frozen.


There you have it, a quick, efficient way to preserve and freeze lemons to reduce waste. This method also works equally well with limes and oranges. So, tell me, do you use lemon juice or zest much when you’re cooking? Did you know it could be so easily frozen?



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