Of all the most hated kitchen tasks, squeezing a lemon ranks somewhere below mincing garlic and above chopping an onion.
This is largely due to the fact that lemon seeds, tricky little buggers that they are, have a propensity to leap from the pulp of the fruit and into whatever vessel you’re using to collect the juice or, worse yet, the dish that you’re cooking.
Not only are lemon seeds unpleasant to accidentally taste and chew, they’re surprisingly difficult to retrieve. It’s as if Mother Nature, as a way to troll us food-chain-topping humans, decided to instill within lemon seeds evasive maneuvers. Take that, “almighty” human! Look at you confounded by a measly SEED!
All of this seed-chasing is almost enough to make you want to go out and buy one of those plastic lemons filled with lemon juice from concentrate. Almost. Because then you remember that stuff sucks.
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So you contemplate buying one of those citrus-juicer contraptions or maybe even those mesh fittings that kind of look like little hairnets except for lemons and then you realize that you sure as hell don’t need more cooking gadgets that you use once and then forget about forever.
So you’re trapped between screaming at seeds and feeling helpless without that oh-so-necessary splash of acid that brightens and lifts everything from grilled salmon to pan-roasted Brussels sprouts.
At least this is how I felt before I learned the right way to squeeze a lemon.
This is the only right way to squeeze a lemon, in just five simple steps.
Step 1: Wash the lemon.
Sounds dumb, yes. Just give the rind a real good rinse. This will soon make sense.
Step 2: Slice the lemon.
My god, who does this guy take me for? say you and likely also Mother Nature. Look, just cut the thing straight down the middle with a sharp knife. The good part is coming.
Step 3: Pluck out any exposed seeds.
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You can do this with your fingers, but the tip of your knife is likely better suited for the task. If you see any seeds lurking beneath the surface of the pulp, go on and dig those out, too, if you care to.
Step 4: Position the lemon with the rind pointing down.
This is the crux of the technique. Scads of people, my former self included, have spent years squeezing lemons with the cut side of the lemon facing downward.
This method allows lemon seeds to do what they love to do: fly directly into the juice or food with glee and cause everyone a whole lot of grief.
By flipping the lemon you subvert the seeds’ ability to ruin everything.
Step 5: Squeeze gently.
Don’t go ham here. Just apply enough pressure so that the juice begins to release from the pulp and trickle down the sides of the lemon, to its tapered end, and eventually drops into the bowl (now you see why we washed the lemon).
Important note: Squeeze slightly away from your face for obvious reasons.
Seeds will surface throughout this process. As that happens, pluck them from the surface of the fruit. Or, you can do as I do and flick them, with vengeance, into the sink.
Continue this process until no juice within the lemon remains.
Then dispose of the lemon.
Or, because you basically just gave Mother Nature a huge middle finger, go ahead and compost that lemon.
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