Citrus is without a doubt one of my favorite scents and flavors. I love these little packages of sunshine sitting on my kitchen counter. Lemons especially are one of the staples of my kitchen. They are as important as olive oil, butter and flour to me. Oranges, limes and even an occasional grapefruit are highly valued in our home for their juices. Here are the ways we use them in our kitchen. I hope it inspires you a bit.
Handy Dandy Helpful Hint...
Before you extract the juice of any citrus press and roll it on your counter to slightly breakdown the internal structure of the fruit which helps more of the juice to release. Also, never use refrigerated or store bought juices. Fresh citrus juices breakdown so quickly that store bought juices are not even in the same realm of taste. Sweet, floral flavors are replaced with acrid flat flavors. Eeeew! So buy a bag of lemons my friend and loose the "Real Lemon".
1- Wedges for Tea
What could be more Southern than sweet iced tea with a wedge of lemon?
After oil, salt, spices and vinegars as a base for dressings, lemon is a great way to add flavor and acid. I also use the zest sometimes.
3- Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
Bottled orange juice is a yellow acidic liquid that can't compare to the truly sweet, mild and flavorful elixir of fresh squeezed juice. Did you know orange juice is the only substance known to reduce phlegm making it a must have for cold and flu season?
4- Infused Water
Want your water to have a zing? Soak any citrus slices in your water. Many believe that lemon water helps to detoxify the body. I always serve a big picture of water with slices of an entire orange at a party. It makes a terrific presentation.
5- Zest for Cookies, Toppings, Muffins, etc.
Many recipes call for the zest or outer color of a citrus fruit. The zest contains most of the essential oils of the fruit and makes for a pungent and flavorful addition to cakes, cookies, dressings and much more.
6- Clean Pots & Cutting Boards
Need to clean a pot (especially copper) or a cutting board? Use half a lemon or even half a juiced lemon with some corse salt. Rub the pot with the lemon using the salt as an abrasive. There you have it, a non-toxic cleaner that makes metal shine and wood fresh.
7- Deodorize the Garbage Disposal
Ok, so don't stop up the garbage disposal with a whole orange like I did! Take a small piece of lemon or orange and place it in your disposal a bit at a time to deodorize and clean the machine. Also, run ice through your disposal to keep the mechanism clean and free especially if you rarely use it.
8- Keep Fruits and Veggies from Browning
Acidulation is the practice of using an acid to slow the oxidation process that makes apples, pears and other fruits brown. Soaking fruit in lemon juice or water and juice is a great way to keep foods looking fresh. I use this for most of my apple recipes.
9- Make Fish and Chicken Sing
Lemon and fish go together like peas and carrots or peanut butter and jelly. Keep in mind that lemon should always be added at the end of cooking because citric acid will chemically cook meat. It actually twists protein molecules just like heat. You can use this to great effect for items like ceviche or carpaccio where raw meat is soaked in lemon. I love to use the zest of citrus in many fish dishes, and it's not bad with chicken either.
Could any ingredient be a better mixer, garnish and flavor enhancer for spirits that citrus? Lemon and gin are the perfect accompaniment, orange and whiskey melds beautifully, and lime and grapefruit are wonderful with tequila. What would a martini be without a twist of lemon or a margarita without lime?