Citrus Zest & Juice Cubes

Would  you like to spend less time prepping?

I purchase several lemons, limes and oranges at time,  then zest and juice them and make frozen “citrus juice cubes”. When I am doing this at the International Wine & Spirits Guild I might do a half case of lemons at a time! At home I usually do 6 – 12 at a time.   You can add the Juice or zest to a variety of things like vinaigrettes, sauces, fish and poultry dishes or any other recipe that calls for zest or citrus juice like desserts and cocktails.

The most important thing is to start with fresh washed produce and there is a wonderful guide to washing produce at the Colorado Extension Service. You can find it at:

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09380.pdf

When I am washing my fruits and veggies I use a mesh scrubber just for those items and never use these scrubbers on my pots and pans! After washing the fruit, rinse and pat dry. I wash produce in a bowl of water or under running water. I don’t recommend filling up your sink because of the bacteria that can grow around the drains.

cleaning the citrusjpg

Now lets zest the fruit.  You’ll be amazed by the smell…so delicious! Here’s a tip.  Zest the fruit first because it is nearly impossible to zest the fruit once you cut it in half and squeeze it to make juice.  I love to use a this handy little gadget called a “micro-plane” to zest the fruit. It’s super fast and easy to use.

cropped zesting lemons

To use the micro-plane just put the rough side against the fruit and move back and forth across the fruit. The peel will start to gather on the backside of the micro-plane. Use a light touch. You don’t want to get any of the white pith under the skin because it is bitter and tough. I usually do this over a plate or parchment paper.  I like using parchment paper because I have a one inch thick oak butcher block top on my kitchen island. I like to keep it clean when I am trimming meat, rolling pastry, shooting photos and peeling things that leave nasty stains like cooked beets.

Put the zest in an airtight container and put it in the freezer.  It will keep for a month or so. Be sure to label and date the container so you can use up the oldest products first.

zested lemons

Next cut the fruit in half and juice it.  I like to use a small electric juicer but you could also use a hand-held one like in the picture below.  The electric one is just a little faster but either method will work.

cropped juicing

juicing the citrus

Pour the juice into ice-cube trays and freeze.  Once the juice is frozen pop the cubes out and put in an airtight container.  I like to put them in plastic freezer bags with the name of the kind of juice written on the bag along with the date.

IMG_0198

These juice cubes will last for a few months in the freezer. Now you’re ready to go when you want to make a lemon pie, lemon curd, a tangy vinaigrette, lemon chicken, lemon gelato or have lemon in your iced tea!

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