I Tried Juicing a Lemon “Butt Up” Versus the WRONG Way, and I’ll Give You One Guess as to What Happened

updated Feb 24, 2021
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Juicing a lemon
Credit: Naomi Tomky

It’s not even 9:30 in the morning and I already have lemon juice in my eye and am questioning the collective cooking sense of TikTok. The social media site holds a treasure trove of weird tips to improve your kitchen life, like how to use a hair straightener to make boozy ice pops and how to make a toaster-dilla, so checking out the tag #cookinghacks often results in entertainment if not always immediate inspiration.

But then I clicked on what has been one of the most-liked videos in the category for a few months now and gasped in surprise. Some TikTok videos horrify with what they make (I consider some of the pancake cereals to fall into that bucket), but this shock came from the fact that what the user called a cooking hack was what I simply called “properly using a cooking tool.”

In the video, which has over 3 million likes, she explains that she had been chastised in the comments of a previous post for using her hand-held citrus juicer upside down — or, rather, putting the cut fruit into it upside down. She then shows the proper way to do it: “butt up,” as she calls it. “Are you freaking kidding me?” she wonders. “What else have I been trying too hard at?”

Well, I don’t know the answer to that, but I struggled to understand how people had been doing this simple task so wrong and wondered how it even worked if you put the fruit in upside down. I decided to do a little experiment: I took a lemon, placed it in the juicer cut side up, put it over a bowl, and squeezed.

Sadly, the TikTok cameras weren’t running, because I truly couldn’t have orchestrated it better — it was straight out of those informercials where people can’t do simple tasks: lemon juice shot up and squirted me square in the eye. 

Even beyond my injury (I’m fine, really, just way more awake), squeezing the fruit cut-side-up was awkward, with the juice pushing up, then down the outside of the peel, dribbling messily and squirting wildly. But that wasn’t even the worst part: I weighed the output of each of the halves and juicing with the cut side up yielded only 15 grams of lemon juice (that does not included whatever landed in my eye or beyond the bowl). Juicing it the right way not only deposited the juice directly into the bowl, but did so with 26 grams of juice. You do the math.