Good Food Blog
Lemon aidPosted at 10:45AM, 11 January 2010 by Carol Wilson - Food writer
I always have at least a couple of lemons in my fridge. Their refreshing zing and sharp fragrance make them perfect for sharpening and enhancing the flavour of both sweet and savoury dishes. I have a sweet tooth, so my favourite lemon recipes are lemon curd - which tastes much nicer than the commercial version - and creamy lemon tart.
When buying lemons I look for thin-skinned fruits (those with thicker peel will have less flesh and therefore be less juicy) that are heavy for their size and bright yellow. I find it's best to avoid any that are tinged with green as they're not fully ripe and will be very acidic. Wrinkled skin means the fruit is overripe and not at its best.
Lemons will stay fresh kept at room temperature, away from exposure to sunlight, for about a week and in the fridge for up to four weeks. I also freeze lemon juice in ice cube trays. Lemons produce more juice when warm, or when rolled first under the palm of your hand on a flat surface.
Add a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice to the cooking water when boiling cauliflower to ensure it stays white
Lemons are invaluable in the kitchen. Add a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice to the cooking water when boiling cauliflower to ensure it stays white; to stop rice from becoming sticky, add a teaspoon of lemon juice to the water during cooking. If lettuce has gone soggy, just add the juice of half a lemon to a bowl of cold water, add the lettuce and refrigerate for an hour. Dry the leaves completely before serving.
The juice is great for cleaning the microwave too. Just mix three tablespoons of lemon juice into 1½ cups water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on High for 5-10 minutes, when the steam will condense on the inside walls and ceiling and you can wipe away softened food with a damp cloth. I have a marble slab that I use for rolling pastry and moulding chocolate. Marble is porous and stains easily but a cut lemon dipped into salt and rubbed on the stains removes them effortlessly. A word of caution though - rinse well, as the acid can damage marble.
Lemons may be waxed to protect them from bruising during shipping. If you're using the zest in a recipe, it's best to use organically grown lemons, which are unwaxed. Wash the fruit, scrubbing the skin, then dry well. Use a zester or vegetable peeler to remove the zest, but don't remove too much of the peel as the white pith underneath is bitter.
Do you have any tips for using lemons around the house or in cooking?