Purchasing & Storing Lemons
Choose smooth-skinned lemons that are heavy for their size. Store in the refrigerator.
Room-temperature lemons or limes will yield more juice than those that are refrigerated.
Microwaving the lemon or lime for a few seconds before squeezing will help extract more juice. Don't overdo it. You don't want to boil the juice.
Use your palm to roll lemon or lime around on the countertop a few times before squeezing.
If just a few drops of juice are needed, pierce the skin with a toothpick and squeeze out what you need. To store it, reinsert the toothpick, put the lemon or lime into a plastic bag, and refrigerate.
Zest is the outer colored portion of the citrus peel. Freshly grated orange, lime or lemon zest packs a flavor wallop no bottles of dried zest can match. Use a citrus zester (available in the kitchen specialty shops) to obtain long, thin strands of citrus zest. A zester has five tiny cutting holes that create threadlike strips of peel.
How to Use a Zester
Press firmly as you draw the zester down along the skin of the fruit. For continuous strips of zest, begin at one end of the fruit, and cut in a spiral around and down. If you do not have a zester, use a vegetable peeler or a small, sharp knife. You will also note that many recipes call for grated zest or peel. In this case, use a cheese grater to remove the peel. When removing the skin from lemons or other citrus fruits, be sure to take only the thin outer zest or colored portion. The white pith will give your dish a bitter under taste.
Zesting & Grating Tips
If you are using a lemon for zest and juice, grate the zest first and then squeeze the juice.
When grating lemon peel, use this fast and easy trick. Cover the zest side of your grater with plastic wrap and grate the lemon over the plastic wrap (remember don't grate the bitter white pith that's under the peel). Most of the zest will remain on the plastic wrap and thus can't stick in the holes of the grater. Just pull the plastic wrap off and shake the zest onto a plate.