When life gives you lemons, use them in more ways than you ever imagined.
Put this zesty citrus fruit to good use with these unexpected tricks that take some of the hassle out of your cooking session.
We all know lemons are delicious, adding a citrusy kick to everything from salad dressings to cocktails. And the laundry list of health benefits is seriously impressive – not only does the fruit contain antibacterial properties that cleanse the kidneys and liver and strengthen your immune system, but it offers a hefty dose of vitamin C and antioxidants that fight free-radicals and help keep you looking younger.
What fewer people know is that lemons also have some unexpected uses. Here are seven ways the handy fruit can solve your trickiest kitchen dilemmas and help enhance your meals.
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A few squeezes of juice can do wonders for avocado, apples, bananas, and peeled raw potatoes, since lemon juice is just acidic enough to prevent the oxidation that turns produce brown. Try this trick the next time you’re doing meal prep ahead of time or when you set out a platter of fresh sliced fruit for dipping in a chocolate fondue.
Stop Rice from Sticking
Have a problem with clumpy rice? You’re in luck – adding a few drops of lemon to your cooking water helps prevent the rice from sticking together. Added plus? The lemon juice will also whiten your rice and keep it looking great on the dinner plate! Try this tip with our green tea rice recipe.
Keep Brown Sugar Soft
The juice isn’t the only useful part of the lemon; its super moist and flavorful peel can work wonders in the kitchen too. Add a slice of the skin (with the pulp completely removed) to your box of brown sugar to keep it from clumping and hardening. This way, you won’t have to do any sifting the next time you make our old-fashioned apple-nut crisp.
Crisp Your Lettuce
No need to toss that limp lettuce! A little lemon juice and water can help bring your leaves back to life. To crisp up limp leaves, soak them in a bowl of cold water and ½ cup of lemon juice, then refrigerate for about an hour. The leaves will come out revived and ready for eating. Try it out on a simple green salad topped with our roasted garlic dressing.
Cook Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs
Even if you’ve mastered perfectly hard-boiled eggs, try brushing the eggshells with lemon juice before adding them to the pot for a little added insurance. The lemon juice helps keep the shells from cracking while they cook, and it also makes them easier to peel once they’re ready to eat. Try this technique before you enjoy the eggs in our golden polenta and egg with mustard sauce.
Lemon juice is a great meat tenderizer; the acidity gently breaks down the fibers in meat, leaving it scrumptiously fork-tender. See it in action with steak salad-stuffed pockets or our Moroccan flavored pork ragu.
Last, but certainly not least, lemon’s yummy flavor can totally transform a meal. It brightens up creamier dishes, balances the flavor in seafood, and is a great sodium-free substitute for sprinkling on salt. Squeeze lemons over our sizzled citrus shrimp, try them sliced with our lemon lovers’ asparagus, and get zesty with fettuccine with shiitake mushrooms and basil.
Lemons are a great health booster that has some unexpected cooking benefits. Use these tips to keep yourself stress-free in the kitchen!
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OTHER BENEFITS YOU DIDN’T KNOW
Lemon juice is no replacement for going to see your dentist—and exposing your teeth to fruit acids isn’t a great long-term strategy. But if you’ve already got a toothache, the citric acid in lemons can alleviate some of the pain until your appointment. Apply a lemon slice directly to the area, or try a little lemon juice and salt.
Weed Your Lawn
Lemon juice is a natural weed killer. Cover weeds in the juice and they’ll shrivel away within a few days. Just be careful: Lemon juice will actually kill any plant, so make sure you’re not accidentally spraying your flowers or lawn.
Ease the Itch
Accidentally run into some poison ivy during your weekend hike? Rub some lemon juice on the area to ease the itching so you don’t spend the next few days scratching at it. The juice can also be effective for itchy dry skin and bug bites.
Freshen Up the Fridge
Got a refrigerator that smells like last week’s dirty laundry? After discarding the rotten food, cover a cotton ball in lemon juice and leave it in your fridge when you head out to work for the day. When you get home, the smell will be gone.
Lemons can also freshen up your favorite cutting board. Cover the board with some coarse salt, then rub the surface with the fleshy side of a lemon. Your board will smell better and the lemon juice will sanitize it too.
Get Rid of Ants
As it turns out, ants are not citrus-fruit fans. If you have an infestation problem on your hands, spray a little lemon juice where you think the insects might be coming in. It can send them scurrying in the opposite direction.
Clean Up the Cheese Grater
That grater is probably one of the most annoying kitchen items to clean, with bits of cheese getting stuck in the hard-to-reach holes. Use the tool to grate the flesh of a lemon.
Deal With Your Disposal
You love your garbage disposal. You don’t love the foul odors it emits. Throw a lemon peel in your disposal and turn it on to freshen things up in a flash.
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