Lemons are one of the most powerful and essential ingredients in the kitchen. They give a bright burst of flavor and acidity to just about everything from salads, to roast chicken.
If lemons are kitchen gold, however, I am Ebenezer Scrooge. Every wasted bit of lemon means I'm more likely to not have lemons in the house when I need them, and that's my nightmare. So if I'm going to slice open one of my precious lemons, I am going to make darn sure that I get every last drop out of that thing.
My husband thinks I take my lemon obsession too far.
"You can't squeeze blood from a stone," he says when he thinks I should give up on a hollowed-out shell and move on to a new lemon.
"But you can squeeze lemon juice from a lemon," I reply. "That's specifically what they're for!"
I maintain that it's not that weird to want to get every last pocket of juice out of one's citrus. Lemons and limes can be expensive! And if you ever need a lot of lemon juice, like for a pie, or for lemon sorbet, or because one of your friends just asked for a whiskey sour and now you have to make them for everybody, juicing enough of them can be a lot of work. So whenever you juice a lemon, it's natural to want to get as much out of them as possible.
According to Good Housekeeping UK, the trick to getting more juice out of a lemon for significantly less work is to use the microwave. Cookery expert Monaz Dumasia told the magazine that microwaving a whole lemon for 20 seconds before cutting and squeezing it would loosen the fruit and allow more juice to come out. It also makes the lemon softer and easier to squeeze, so you don't have to grip it quite as hard to feel like you're really getting all those last droplets out of there.
The microwave trick is also a favorite of Mary Berry, who said it's one of the few things she uses a microwave for.
"I find that if I've got to make something like a lemon tart, using five lemons or something, to get the juice out takes an awful lot of effort," she told the Daily Mail. "I haven't got these great, strong muscles, so this is where a microwave earns its keep."
I don't have any lemons in the house at the moment — see? My paranoia about running out of lemons is totally justified — so I tried it with a pair of limes. Both were about the same size and degree of freshness when they came out of the refrigerator. When I squeezed the lemon out of the fridge, I got two tablespoons of juice out of it, and it took a fair amount of strength and leverage to get that much.
I microwaved the second for 20 seconds before cutting and squeezing it. That one took noticeably less physical effort to squeeze, and the initial bit of juice burst out with a satisfying splurt. The second lime gave me slightly more than three tablespoons of juice for less work than two tablespoons from the cold lime.
I'm a convert. My citrus is getting microwaved from now on.
How do you squeeze lemons?