In the spring when citrus trees begin to bloom, what happens to the fruit that is still hanging on the tree?
It depends on what kind of citrus it is. For example, many types of grapefruit remain on the tree through blooming and may even last into summer and beyond. In contrast, some varieties of lemon trees drop all the hanging fruit the minute they start blooming. Unless you have been keeping up with the crop, you may suddenly be faced with an overabundance of lemons to process.
What can you do with all those lemons?
One easy solution is to make lemon juice and freeze it.
Freezing Lemon Juice
- Ice cube trays
- Measuring cup with spout (optional)
- Freezer bags
- Electric or hand citrus juicer
Using a electric citrus juicer, even an inexpensive one, will make the process go much more quickly.
1. Pick and wash the lemons.
2. Gather ice cube trays to fill with lemon juice.
3. Follow the citrus juicer manufacturer’s instructions for making the lemon juice.
4. Pour the lemon juice into ice cube trays. (I use a measuring cup with a spout to pour with because my particular model does not pour juice easily.)
5. Place the trays in the freezer and freeze until hard, at least overnight.
You may leave the lemon juice in the trays, but in most modern freezers open cubes will slowly lose moisture. To prevent shrinkage:
6. Pop the lemon juice cubes out of the trays and place into freezer bags. A one quart freezer bag should hold two or three trays, depending on the size. Be sure to seal the bags well with as little trapped air as possible.
It is also possible to successfully freeze orange juice this way.
When you need lemon juice for a recipe simply slip out the necessary number of cubes and return the rest to the freezer. Thaw the lemon juice cubes you are going to use briefly in the microwave. You don’t even need to thaw the cubes if you are making the following lemonade.
Easy Lemon Juice Cube Lemonade
Add 1 frozen lemon juice cube to 1 pint (2 cups) of cold water. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar or other sweetener (to taste*) and stir well. If you like, add a sprinkle of salt and a mint leaf and/or lemon slice for garnish.
*Note: How much sweetener to add will depend on the type of lemon, ripeness and your individual taste. After having lemonade regularly for several years, I often omit the sugar completely.
What is your favorite way to use lemons?