Essential Tools

The Best Citrus Squeezer in a Pinch Isn't a Squeezer at All

May 18, 2018

Okay, folks. We're barreling into margarita, guacamole, and spontaneous any-reason-to-dine-outside season. Lots of occasions to get together and finally use that chic handwoven picnic tote we've been itching to break out all winter long.

If you suddenly find yourself on margarita duty, deep into a bag of limes, with just a sole citrus reamer at your disposal, grab a friend and another handy tool that you likely already have lying around:

One of my very favorite tools in the kitchen. Photo by Me


I once saw a prep cook intently focused on squeezing every bit of juice out of a container of halved limes. Maybe it was for a cocktail base like me, maybe it was for a vinaigrette. Whatever the reason, it had me smacking my forehead in a Why didn't I think of that? sorta way.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I always use a fork; I don't even own a reamer. Just jam it in (careful not to go all the way through to your hand!) and squeeze and twist the lime. Using tongs might be faster, though. It might be worth a try.”
— tia

It makes so much sense. Leveraging the strength of the tongs to extract as much juice as possible—a daunting task for particularly stubborn limes that refuse to yield even a bit by hand. It's made even simpler if you make sure to give the orbs a nice press and roll on a cutting board or work surface to loosen up the membranes within before cutting them in half.

Try to get the halved citrus as close to the "apex" as possible. Photo by Me

Put the citrus half in between the arms of the tongs, trying to get as close as possible to the end, and squeeeze using both hands for the best effect. Remove the half, reposition it within the tongs' embrace, and squeeze again, until you're confident it's given everything it's got.


And just so you know (because I needed a control study!), when I put the tongs head-to-head against my trusty little wooden reamer, it produced the same amount of juice. More pulp in the reamer-yielded juice, but both came out at about 1/4 cup per lime.

Very scientific study right here. Photo by Me again

Now, I'm not discounting the useful purpose of unitask juicers; I love those cheerful yellow squeezers (you know the ones) and gorgeous milk glass juicers as much as the next person. But if you, like me, find yourself in a bind and need to juice—fast!—there's no better tool than one you already own.

What other unexpected kitchen tools do you use to juice your citrus? Share your findings below!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • bellw67
  • tia
  • Nana
  • Hana Asbrink
    Hana Asbrink
  • Judy Gallimore
    Judy Gallimore
Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.


bellw67 May 21, 2018
I’ve tried the tongs but the lemons and limes don’t stay put, keep popping out.
Hana A. May 22, 2018
Hi suzybel63 - have you tried letting the halved lemon/lime stick out just a bit beyond the tweezer (see my 2nd photo above)? Sometimes that helps. Lmk if that makes a difference and thanks for reading along!
tia May 18, 2018
I always use a fork; I don't even own a reamer. Just jam it in (careful not to go all the way through to your hand!) and squeeze and twist the lime. Using tongs might be faster, though. It might be worth a try.
Hana A. May 18, 2018
A fork is great in a pinch! And yes, definitely watch those hands. ;) Thanks, Tia!
Nana May 18, 2018
A spoon? A regular table spoon, that is. Give the citrus half a squeeze by hand, holding it over the spoon (and catch some of the pits, if there are any). When it’s loose enough for the tip of the spoon you pretty much use it like those unitaskers, but with a scooping motion. Won’t get essier than that!
Hana A. May 18, 2018
Great tip, thanks Nana!
Judy G. May 20, 2018
When I use the tongs to squeeze a fruit, usually lemons, the inner sides of the tongs cut the fruit in half before I finish juicing.
Any advice?
Hana A. May 22, 2018
Hi Judy - I'm sorry your halves are getting halved! My tongs (if you can tell) are kind of blunt on the edges, so they don't "cut" into the fruit. Maybe your tongs have sharper edges than mine?