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Monday, February 24, 2014

Waste nothing: How I use the whole lemon

You already know how I use the whole orange (whole orange muffins, citrus-spice infused vinegar cleaners, candied orange peel). I also try to use the entire lemon when I buy fresh lemons.

When buying whole lemons in the supermarket, most of us view the juice and zest as the valuable portions, regarding the shells as something for the compost heap. But the shells can be useful, too, for adding a citrusy accent when cooking poultry.

To use whole lemons,

first, I zest the lemon (I zest lemons the same way that I zest oranges), saving some as bits, and some as threads, in the freezer.

Next, I halve the lemon and juice it. If I don't need the lemon juice right away (if I only needed the zest of the lemon for the recipe that I'm working on). I freeze this juice in small containers, labeling the quantity of juice.

Finally, I freeze the juiced  and zested shells in a large plastic bag, to use as part of the flavoring and aromatics in poultry.

To use:

ZEST -- the zest "bits" are great for adding to cakes and muffins, while the "threads" make a beautiful finishing touch on baked goods, or servings of chicken or fish.

JUICE -- The juice, if frozen in various small quantities, can be pulled out of the freezer, in the exact amounts that I need for recipes.

SHELLS -- I take several lemon shells out of the freezer, and use them:

  • cut into 1/8ths and added to marinade for Mediterranean chicken (add garlic, oregano, salt pepper and lemon shells w/ some juice), OR,
  • my favorite method for infusing flavor into whole turkeys -- I slip the shell halves into whole chickens and turkeys, along with garlic, onion quarters, and a bundle of sage, thyme and rosemary, as an aromatic "stuffing", both adding flavor to the poultry, and to the pan juices for sauce or gravy.


  1. I love lemon flavoring but I almost never buy whole lemons. Sounds like you have some great lemony meals at your home. :)

    1. Hi Kris,
      Yep! I do like the tang of fresh lemon.


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