Lemons are one of the most versatile citrus fruits around. You can use lemons in anything from sweet to savory to sour dishes.
You can infuse your meats with tangy flavor, add some tartness to your pastries, make fresh squeezed lemonade, add it as a garnish, or even use lemons to preserve other foods for longer. The list is endless!
However, there is a major problem that comes with this particular fruit: its short shelf life. The sad truth is that, like most fresh fruits, lemons can turn bad quickly, even with high acidity, especially if left out at room temperature.
So, can you freeze lemons? Yes, you can absolutely freeze lemons. There are several factors to keep in mind when you’re planning to preserve your lemons, including whether you want to freeze them whole, sliced, or juiced.
Keep reading, because we’re going to tell you how to freeze your lemons at any stage below so you’ll never be without this incredibly useful fruit by your side!
Why Freeze Lemons?
It would be such a shame to let something as healthy and versatile as a vitamin-packed lemon go to waste. After all, there is an effective way for you to improve their longevity and ensure that they are easily accessible to you at all times – freezing.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is how the familiar adage goes. However, if you were to replace apples with lemons, then you would end up with a more accurate passage.
At one point or another, we all have experienced how helpful a glass of lemon juice can be when you’re feeling under the weather. Not only is it refreshing, but it is also highly nutritious.
Lemons, as you probably already know, are a kind of super-food. They come packed with all kinds of nutrients and minerals. This alone should be reason enough to ensure that your lemons can last as long as possible.
Don’t just take our word for it, presented below is a breakdown of a lemon’s nutritional content:
Lemon Nutritional Value (Amount Per 100 grams)
|Total Fat||0.3 g|
|Total Carbohydrate||9 g|
|Dietary fiber||11% of RDI|
|Vitamin C||88% of RDI|
|Vitamin B-6||5% of RDI|
*RDI – Recommended Daily Intake
As made incredibly clear in the table above, there is a plethora of vitamins and nutrients in a single lemon. Moreover, the often-ignored lemon rinds contain 10 times as much vitamins as the fruit’s juice.
Limonoids, in particular, help explain why this fruit is so beneficial for your health. Limonoids are natural compounds that are present in certain citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges.
They give the fruit its distinctive tart flavor and serve as potent antioxidants.
These benefits alone should make the idea of freezing your lemons that much more practical and appealing. By freezing your lemons, you will have a convenient and tasty source of nutrients within arm’s reach.
Preparing Lemons For Freezing
Before we delve into the actual process of freezing your lemons, we must also look into the specific steps you need to take to prepare them.
After all, preparation is crucial if you want to ensure that your lemons freeze well without losing their texture or potency. We’ve listed the proper preparations below:
- Wash Your Hands – Before doing anything with the lemon, you will want to make sure your hands are nice and clean. Washing your hands is the first and most important step when it comes to handling food. Remember, unwashed hands can play host to a plethora of bacteria and toxins which can cling to the surface of the lemon. Be as thorough as you can and use gentle antibacterial hand soap with warm water as you scrub your hands clean.
- Scrub the Lemons – While hand hygiene is important, you must also make sure that the food you are freezing is just as clean and free of any contaminants in the form of dirt and chemicals. For this task, you will need to use a brush. Any type will do, though a toothbrush or a nail brush usually works best. There are also vegetable brushes available that you can use to scrub the surface of your lemon. Just make sure that this tool is used solely to scrub food and not to clean dishes.
- Soak Lemons With a Vinegar Solution – This step is optional, albeit important. A vinegar solution helps remove any residue of pesticides from your lemons. After all, sometimes scrubbing isn’t quite enough. Make a simple solution comprised of 10% vinegar and 90% water. Make sure to soak the lemons for 15-20 minutes.
- Wash the Lemons – Once you are finished scrubbing and soaking the lemon in your vinegar solution, it is time to give them a good wash. Make sure to place them under cold running water as you thoroughly wash every inch of them.
- Dry the Lemons – The last thing you would want is to freeze a wet lemon. So, upon washing the fruit, take a clean and dry rag to wipe away any water clinging to its surface. A paper towel would also work well here, though it can be rather wasteful.
The Best Ways To Freeze Your Lemons
Now that we have covered the right way to prepare your lemon for the freezing process, we can tackle the matter at hand. Presented below are the different ways you can freeze this wonderful fruit.
Before you proceed, you need to ensure that you followed the necessary steps in the preparation stage as presented above.
Freezing Whole Lemons
Once the lemons have been scrubbed, soaked, and washed, you can proceed to freeze them. To do this, you will need freezer-safe bags. You can opt to place 2-3 whole lemons per bag for the sake of space and efficiency.
Just be sure to properly label the bags and make sure that they indicate the freezing date.
Freezing Lemon Slices
If you have already cut your lemons and are wondering if you can save the leftovers, here is how to preserve the slices. By cutting your lemon into pieces beforehand, you effectively resolve the problem of the fruit’s soft texture.
This means that they will work better as garnishes for cocktails and other dishes. Make sure to follow these steps closely:
- Cut the Lemon Accordingly – If you have not already cut your lemons, the first step is cutting them into slices or wedges, depending on your preference and planned use for them.
- Pre-Freezing – It is paramount that you follow this step, as it will inevitably affect how your lemons freeze later on. Place your lemon slices on a baking sheet and make sure that they are placed evenly. Then place the sheet in the freezer. This step is designed to help the individual lemon slices freeze well. Leave the sliced lemons in the freezer for 2-3 hours. They should come out hard. Check to see if the fruit’s pulp is still able to squeeze out any juices. If not, then they are perfectly frozen. Remember, skipping this step means your lemon slices will clump and freeze into a single, unusable block.
- Freezing – Once the individual slices have been frozen, you can now proceed to the final step. Place your lemons into a freezer-safe bag. Because they were pre-frozen, they shouldn’t stick together. Then, place the bag into the freezer. You can open the bag and take out the slices whenever the need arises.
Don’t just throw all the slices into a bag and call it good. The slices will freeze stuck to each other and you’ll end up having to melt the entire batch just to get to one or two of them.
Freezing Lemon Juice
Another great way to ensure that you have access to the vitamins and nutrients of lemons is to freeze the freshly squeezed lemon juice. After all, a nice cup of lemon juice is an effective way to jumpstart your day.
Take note that freshly squeezed lemon juice doesn’t last very long. Even if you refrigerate your lemon juice, it can quickly turn in a span of two to four days. That is why freezing remains the best way to improve its longevity.
Here’s how to freeze lemon juice:
- Prepare the Lemons – Preparing your lemons is incredibly important before proceeding with the next steps. This means taking the time to clean, scrub, and wash the lemons before slicing and juicing them.
- Juice the Lemons – If you have a lemon juicer or a reamer in your kitchen, then you should have no trouble with this step. Alternatively, you can cut the lemon into quarters and squeeze hard. Then, take a fork and press down on the pulp to extract the remaining fluids. Make sure not to leave any seed fragments floating in it.
- Measure the Juice – Divide your juice into 1-cup portions. This will help you keep better track of your consumption as well as give you precise measurements for dishes and recipes.
- Pour into Ice Cube Trays – Once you have carefully measured how much lemon juice you have, carefully pour them into ice cube trays. Be careful to take note of how many ice cubes you can make with each cup. Keeping track of these details will help you later on if you plan on using your lemon juice for certain recipes. You can also place these lemon juice ice cubes in cold water to infuse them with flavor.
- Place Trays in Freezer – Once you have sorted the juice and poured it into the ice cube trays, let them sit for 2 hours. This should be enough time for the liquid to completely freeze.
- Pack the Lemon Ice Cubes – When the lemon juice has turned into ice cubes, you can proceed to take them out of the trays. Then, carefully place them into a freezer-safe bag.
You may be tempted to simply pour the lemon juice in one container to freeze it, but pouring it into ice cube trays is just as important as separating your lemon slices before freezing for the same reason.
You don’t want to have to waste all you lemon juice when all you really wanted was a few tablespoons. Freezing them in cubes allows you to grab what you need when you need it.
Freezing Lemon Zest
The rind of a lemon is an often-ignored, yet important aspect of the fruit. For those unaware, the rind refers to the fruit’s outer peel, which contains a lot of its natural oils.
Taking a grater to the surface of the lemon, you will be left with thin strips, called the zest, which can be used as a topping or garnish for baked goods, soups, salads, and more.
Too often, people end up wasting this versatile ingredient. Here’s how to freeze your lemon zest and avoid this mistake:
- Zest the Lemons – Take a grater or a zester and extract it from the surface of your lemon. This means working on the fruit with your tool of choice until the yellow part of its skin has been effectively peeled off in thin ribbons.
- Transfer the Lemon Zest to a Freezer-Safe Bag – Once you have finished taking the zest off your lemons, you can then proceed to carefully transfer it to a sealable freezer-safe bag. Just remember to freeze or use the remaining lemons so that it doesn’t go to waste.
- Freezing the Zest – Make sure that the bag is properly labeled. Its label should indicate the contents of the bag as well as the exact freezing date. This way, you can keep close track of how long it has been sitting in your freezer.
It should also be noted here that you have the option to remove the zest of your lemons after it has been frozen.
This is how many professional chefs do it, as it tends to be more efficient and less messy. This is because freezing prevents any rind oils from spraying all over your cutting board.
The list of recipes that call for lemons or lemon juice and zest is virtually endless. That’s why it makes so much sense for you to always have this lovely fruit handy and ready to use whenever you need it.
If you’re more of a visual learner, we’ve found a handy tutorial for freezing lemons and using frozen lemons by Indigo Nili on YouTube. Check it out below!
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