Lemon Juicers - Electric and Manual Citrus Squeezers, Reamers and Presses
If you cook at all you are guaranteed to quickly come across a recipe which requires you to know how to juice a citrus fruit effectively. This isn’t a complicated process by any means, but you can improve the way you extract lemon juice and the amount of liquid acquire by juicing lemons and limes if you know a few simple tricks.
Firstly, squeezing lemons by hand is absolutely not the best way to go about it. Not only is it hard on the hands, both in terms of the strength required and the citrus acid on your skin, but it is also an ineffective way to extract the most liquid. If you have ever made something like a peruvian ceviche which requires a crazy amount of citrus then you will know how inefficient and ultimately painful this would be if you did it by hand.
Smart cooks use some kind of kitchen aid to get the juice they require as this not only saves time and makes your life easier but also gets you more juice out of a single fruit than by hand extraction. This means less waste and will save you money too in the long run as you will be buying less citrus.
Electric Lemon Juicers
By far the best citrus juicing kitchen gadget is the motorized electric lemon juicer. These powered lemon presses are very easy to use, fast and if great for juicing citrus fruits of all kinds. Manual lemon squeezers are fine for small jobs, but if you need to extract a lot of juice, or if say, you have arthritis in your hands, tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome and can't use things like manual presses, then you will appreciate the virtually hands free operation of an electric model.
Manual Lemon Squeezers and Presses
There are basically three main types of this kind of kitchen utensil and which you require will be a personal preference as, in my opinion at least, they all work pretty good.
My personal favorite though are lemon presses which use leverage to squish the liquid out. This is more of a citrus squeezer or crusher which for me, extracts more juice than the alternatives and also has the added benefit of catching the seeds before they drop into whatever I am cooking. Lemon smashers like these crush the fruit between two metal presses, the lower of which has small holes for the juice to drain through.
These are almost always made completely out of metal which makes them very strong, unlikely to break any time soon (oh, if only all kitchen equipment could say this!) and resistant to the corrosive acid in citrus fruit. Mine is inherited from my mother-in-law and is at least 30 years old...these things last!
A lemon reamer is a different type of citrus fruit squeezer featuring a tapered head with grooves running along its length and a handle for the user to hold. You basically cut the citrus fruit in half and grind the head into the lemon pulp, squeezing by hand as your grind away to extract the juice.
Personally, I find this a messy way to go and on the occasion when I have cooked away from home and been without my own lemon crusher, I've just used a fork to do the grinding and felt like I got the same effect. Still, some people like these and they do work.
These are a variation on the hand reamer style of citrus juicer. They basically sit flat on the kitchen counter and feature a tapered lemon reamer which points vertically upward with a collection bowl underneath to catch the liquid. You grind the citrus fruit onto the reamer and the juice flows out into the collection area below which typically features a pouring lip to drain the liquid away.
The advantage of these is the extractor and collector are all in one utensil, so half the washing up - yey! These are often glass lemon juicers although plastic and stainless steel are also popular.
Tips For Juicing Lemons
By using one of the above tools you will get more juice out of any citrus fruit than by hand squeezing and it will be easier to do so as well. However, there are some more tips which wil help you extract more too.
1. Many of us keep our citrus fruit in the fridge because they last longer this way...and it helps keep fridge smells down replacing them with a fresh scent instead. However, those extracted directly from the fridge are not only much harder to squeeze but give up less juice too. Allow them to reach room temperature before crushing or reaming them and you'll extract more liquid and if you are crushing them the manual way, it'll be easier on your hands too.
2. Microwave them for more juice! Yes seriously, microwaving a lemon for 10 - 15 seconds (adjust to the power of your microwave) makes them much easier to squeeze, especially if you just pulled them out of the fridge and need to get cooking. Be sure to cut them in half first so they don't explode!
3. Give it a little pre-crush by taking the palm of your hand and whilst applying gentle(ish) pressure, roll it around against the countertop. This helps soften and break down the flesh inside, then cut and squeeze.
4. Sometimes you only need a little juice and they go dry fast once cut. The solution is to save excess juice by freezing it using an ice cube tray. Another thing some people try when they only need a very small amount of juice, is to prick the skin with a fork or toothpick to make a tiny hole, squeeze out what they need, tape up the hole(s) and then replace it back into the fridge in a small ziplock bag where it will keep fresh.
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