14 seriously helpful do’s and don’ts for cooking with lemons
Lemons can be a chef (or baker’s) best friend, but they aren’t an all-purpose tool. Check out our Feast and Field list of do’s and don’ts of working with lemons in the kitchen.
Do use a squeeze of lemon in pan sauces to add a bright note once a dish is off the heat, but don’t add lemon while the sauce is cooking as the lemon can become acrid.
Do enliven cream-based savory recipes with a squeeze of lemon, but don’t add too much or the dairy will curdle.
Do create more complex flavor profiles in vinaigrettes by using lemon juice in conjunction with other acids like vinegar, but don’t do so blindly, as some combinations may not be advantageous — do a small-batch taste before going all-in.
Do use lemon zest liberally, but don’t do so without first thoroughly cleaning the rind with cool water and a soft brush.
Do juice lemons by hand or with a juicer, but don’t do so straight from the fridge. Bringing the fruits to room temp or microwaving them for a minute will yield more juice.
Do use lemon juice as a substitute for vinegar in recipes, but don’t use it in equal proportion. Use twice the amount of lemon juice than vinegar.
Do buy lemons in bulk when they are in season and on sale, but don’t store them on a countertop. Place them in a sealed plastic bag in your refrigerator’s produce drawer.
Do freeze lemon juice in ice cube trays for future use, but don’t leave them in the tray or they’ll soak up the fragrance of the freezer. Once frozen, transfer them to an airtight, freezer-proof container.
Do add lemon juice to the water when cooking rice to keep the grains from clinging to one another, but don’t add too much unless you want the rice to have a lemony taste.
Do prevent the browning or oxidization of fresh cut fruits and vegetables by dipping them into a mixture of one cup water and one tablespoon lemon juice, but don’t use undiluted lemon juice unless you want your produce to taste of lemon.
Do add lemon juice after combining the wet and dry ingredients in a cake recipe to create more loft, but don’t add it sooner or it will have an adverse reaction with the recipe’s baking powder.
Do enjoy the nutritional benefits of lemons, but don’t add lemon to every glass of water as it adversely impacts tooth enamel.
Do use lemon to marinade and tenderize red meat, but don’t use it too liberally when marinating fish and seafood as the acid in the lemon partially cooks the flesh.
Do freeze whole lemons when you don’t have time to juice them, but don’t thaw them overnight in the refrigerator. Instead, submerge them in cold water for 15 minutes.