Remember my hefty harvest of lemons from the other week? Of those 60-plus lemons, I put up over half of them in less than an hour and none of it involved a jar (well, just one jar, but not in the way you think).
The trick to preserving all those lemons in a flash? Freeze them!
Lemons are indispensable in the kitchen, but rarely do I ever use a whole lemon at once.
How many times have you wanted just a slice of lemon in your water, or found a recipe that calls for just a tablespoon of lemon juice? After a slice or a squeeze, I’m usually dismayed to find a forgotten, puckered-up lemon wedge in my fridge a week later.
But no more! No more shriveled-up half lemons in the crisper bin. No more running to the store for just one lemon. No more lemon-shaped plastic bottles of artificial lemon juice.
You can freeze your fresh lemons to use all year long with these three simple methods.
Freezing method #1: Lemon slices
To freeze lemon slices that you can drop into drinks, lay them out on a cookie sheet and set them in the freezer for a few hours.
Once they’re frozen solid, collect them into a zip-top storage bag, where they’ll stay frozen individually (and not clumped together into a yellow iceberg if you were to freeze all the slices together in the bag).
I like to add a slice or two for a little zip to water or iced tea, or to cool down a too-hot tea.
Freezing method #2: Lemon zest
To freeze lemon zest, I use a Microplane to quickly and finely grate the peel. The zest is stored in a glass jar in the freezer and one little pint jar lasts quite a long time.
Whenever a recipe calls for that random teaspoon of zest, it’s easy to scoop out as needed.
Freezing method #3: Lemon juice
Now that you’ve got a “naked” lemon, here’s how you can freeze that, too.
Cut your zested lemon in half or in quarters, squeeze out the juice, and pour the juice into an ice cube tray to freeze.
The frozen cubes can stay in the trays, keeping it convenient for you to pop out a cube as needed, or they can go into another zip-top bag for storage. (I usually keep a few bags of lemon slices and lemon juice cubes in the freezer at all times.)
Each lemon juice cube (about one to two tablespoons’ worth for a standard ice cube tray) is the perfect serving size to brighten up dishes or drinks. I like to melt a lemon cube or two into soups that could use a touch of acidity, or thaw a cube to use in sauces and dressings.
Bonus uses in the kitchen
Before you toss those leftover lemon rinds in the compost bin, here’s an easy way to make them go the extra mile.
Use the rinds to clean your kitchen!
You can sprinkle some coarse salt on the cut surface (fleshy side) of a lemon half to scrub a sink, butcher block, or wooden cutting board before rinsing clean with water.
Use another lemon rind to polish a stainless steel (or chrome) faucet or dish drying rack, or to remove stains from stainless steel pots, pans, and cooking utensils.
Another rind or two (or the remnants of your cleaning tasks) can then be ground in the garbage disposal to freshen the drain.
At the end of all this, you’re left with lots of lemons, a spruced-up space and a lovely smelling kitchen!
This post updated from an article that originally appeared on February 28, 2012.
View the Web Story on how to freeze fresh lemons.