Lemons and juice.

Is there a good option for keeping lemon juice around the house without constantly buying lemons? The juice from the little plastic lemons that you find everywhere tastes off to me--are there any bottled juices or concentrates that work better? Where can you find them?

  • Posted by: erinrae
  • March 13, 2012


allans March 14, 2012
I also buy in bulk when cheapest, then freeze in small cubes. I use lemon juice in almost everything, and I don't like bottled.
Anitalectric March 14, 2012
This doesn't work for all dishes, but my best lemon substitution has become sumac. Sumac is a dark red spice available at Middle Eastern shops. It has a lemony flavor and is great to sprinkle on a dish last minute to give the same kind of bright, slightly sour flavor as lemon. So, for example, if it was for a salad dressing, you could use vinegar instead and then sprinkle on sumac at the end. So, since it is just a spice, it never really goes bad and you will always have it around.

Otherwise, you could buy a big bag of lemons, juice them all at once (and zest for bonus points) then do like Pee Wee Herman and portion into ice cube trays for later use.
Sam1148 March 14, 2012
One of the best "Camp snacks" i made was with sumac. I had some raman noodles and made those, drained them and fried in little disks, and topped with some good swiss cheese and some crushed Sumac berries from a nearby bush.
LeBec F. March 18, 2012
anita, since you're adventurous,you might enjoy tasting some Indian mango powder- amchar- also used for a lemon juice pucker. major pucker that is...........!
SeaJambon March 13, 2012
I agree with ChefOno - squeeze and freeze is your best bet (FWIW, I do the same with the peel -- zest it and then freeze in little one T packets). It is close to fresh when thawed, but not 100% the same. Nonetheless, I've found it a very practical way of saving Meyer lemons which are seasonal (as opposed to the standard varieties that are available year round). I'd plant trees in a heartbeat if citrus had a snowball's chance in my climate (and I've tried raising lemon trees indoors -- well, let's just say it was an expensive and very disappointing end result).
ChefOno March 13, 2012
Another excellent method for preserving those Meyer lemons is with alcohol, i.e. limoncello :-)

LeBec F. March 16, 2012
Just a suggestion, but i don't think you need to individually package citrus zest like you do. I think the more broken down a food item, the more it is subject to ice crystals which = flavor degradation. Because zest (unlike cream) does not freeze into a hard ice-like mass, just keep it all in one sealed container and remove what you need with a spoon. I do the same with chipotle puree (a fork scrapes it out easily) , tomato paste, canned anchovies and OJ concentrate. For chicken demiglace, i freeze it in a shallow block, cut it into cubes and bag those. I cut from a cube the amount i need and return the cube to the freezer if i don't need it all.
ChefOno March 13, 2012
I think it depends upon the use what you might find acceptable as a substitute for fresh juice. I use bottled juice for acidulating water to prevent browning of fruits and vegetables and in small quantities in dishes where other flavors overpower its taste. I've tried TrueLime in mixed drinks and was very much unsatisfied but it might be a good choice for other purposes. Freezing works well even where taste is a key component like lemonade or pastry fillings but the ultimate is still fresh-squeezed. You could try to do what we've done -- plant a few trees.

On a related note, citrus oil can stand in for juice in some applications. No problems with degradation there.

*And by "bottled juice" I'm not referring to Rose's -- I remain unconvinced what that stuff is made from.
bluet March 13, 2012
Squeeze and freeze in the amounts you'd normally use. Fresh lemon juice holds for only a few hours. Bottled tastes off because of additives/stabilizers.
LeBec F. March 16, 2012
i don't know what your 'holds' means. before it goes bad? tastes off? is dangerous? i use days old lemon and lime juice in iced tea and alcoholic drinks to no harm though it never tastes as good as freshly squeezed. In baked goods/desserts and salad dressings, i don't think i can tell the difference.
hardlikearmour March 13, 2012
Sam1148 swears by TrueLemon and TrueLime. I've not used them yet, but I would completely trust his palate. http://www.truelemon.com/true-lemon.html
Sam1148 March 14, 2012
I'm still a cheerleader for that product. While it's not all that great in some mixed drinks (IE: Bloody Marys). For adding to water, club soda, or salad dressing it's great. In a mixed drink that's a soda water base, it's good. And the lime is great on popcorn.
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