When a recipe calls calls for it, fresh lemon juice can add a nice zing to your dish. It’s also useful for preserving fruit salads, and the secret ingredient in many cocktails.
Here's my favorite way to juice a lemon that requires no special juicing gadgets—just a knife, a reamer or fork (yes, a fork), a wire mesh strainer and a bowl or measuring cup.
The Fork as a Secret Weapon
First, of course, I always wash the lemon to get off any dirt and debris that could otherwise end up tainting my juice. Then, I place the strainer over the bowl or measuring cup.
I slice the lemon in half and set one of the halves aside. I take the other half in one hand and with the other hand pick up the fork. Holding the lemon half over the strainer, and positioning the fork sideways so that the rows of tines run up and down vertically instead of flat across as though I was actually using the fork to eat, I stick the tines into the flesh of the lemon, stopping short of puncturing the skin. Then I work the fork back and forth (or up and down, really) as I squeeze the lemon, the fork helping coax the juice out of the lemon as I squeeze.
There is also a cooking tool, sometimes called a reamer, that serves the same purpose as the fork. Reamers are usually made either from wood or stainless steel with a rubberized grip. They have a teardrop-shaped pointed end with ridges all around to provide the same pressure and friction that pries free the juice from the pulp as my trusty ol' fork does.
The mesh strainer is there to catch the seeds and any pieces of pulp I pry loose so that the juice filling the bowl or measuring cup is just that: lemon juice, with no seeds or other solids.
To get all the juice I can out of each half, I'll rotate the lemon slightly after my first squeeze and squeeze it again, continuing to do this slight rotation and successive squeezing until I've drained the lemon dry.
Then I do the same with the other half.
Lemon Juicing Tips
Here are some other helpful tips I found on how to juice a lemon.
Whatever your method, one way to help free up the juices and make it easier to get them out is, before you slice into it, to roll the lemon on the counter with your palm.
Watch your eyes. Lemon juice is highly acidic and can sting your eyes tremendously if any squirts up in there while you're juicing. For the same reason, if you have any open cuts on your hands then you may want to wear some thin plastic or powder-free latex gloves to protect them from the citric acid. Wash your hands thoroughly after juicing lemons too, as you could inadvertently rub your eyes while some of the juice is still on you.
You can get approximately 2 tablespoons of lemon juice out of 1 medium sized lemon. Fresh lemon juice can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, although the flavor is best if used within about 3 days. If you plan on storing it longer, pour the lemon juice into ice cube trays and set them in the freezer until needed, up to 4 months.
How to Juice a Lemon Video
I realize this technique, while easy to do, may be difficult to visualize. Here's a great video by FoodofLove1 that show exactly how to do it as I've explained above. Enjoy!
Everyone's got a favorite lemon juicing technique. What works for you?