If you cook even a little bit, you probably find yourself with lemons that don’t always get used up. If you cook a lot, you may end up throwing lemons away on a regular basis because you can’t use them up fast enough.
If this is the case, learning how you can use lemons besides cooking with them will help. Lemons are one of few foods that have plenty of use outside of the kitchen. This makes them an ideal product for a lot of tasks that require disinfecting.
There are plenty of ways to make sure your lemons don’t go bad, the following ideas are only a few of the ways you can preserve them or get some use out of them before throwing them out.
1. Use the Whole Lemon
Next time you have a lemon that’s a little hard, don’t just throw it out. You can zest it with a citrus zester or microplane and freeze the zest to use in a recipe or even just to add flavor to tonight’s vegetable side dish.
If you have lemons that are on the verge of going bad, but may have juice in them, get as much juice as you can out and pour it into ice cube trays. These can be used in recipes, or even tossed into water or lemonade.
2. Clean Your Cutting Board
Lemon juice is a natural acid that helps to get rid of bacteria that may be lingering on your cutting board. It will also help brighten it up and get rid of those pesky stains from meat or spices.
Simply sprinkle some coarse salt on your cutting board and cut a lemon in half. Scrub the cutting board with the lemon until the salt forms a paste. Rinse, clean with soap if desired, and dry off. You don’t have to do this every time you use it, but it does help to do it every so often. If you have lemons about to go bad, this is a great way to use them up before throwing them out.
3. Clean Your Blender
If you have a blender with a plastic container, you may have noticed that it’s taken on a somewhat cloudy appearance. You can clean this easily with a lemon, some baking soda and a few drops of dish soap.
Put the lemon, a sprinkle of baking soda, and a few drops of soap in your blender container and fill less than halfway with hot water. Blend on high speed until the liquid is light yellow and foamy. Rinse well, and you’ll be amazed at how sparkling your container is.
Note: Don’t be tempted to put too much water in, or you’ll likely have a mess on your hands.
4. Get out a Stain
If you spill something on your bright white apron, try rubbing the cut side of a lemon on the stain before it sets. Depending on the stain, it may come out right away, but if not, the acid in the lemon juice will help prevent it from staining. Do this as soon as possible for best results.
This method works for other stains as well, and can help clothes or spots that may not always stay so white (the armpits of white t-shirts, for example).
5. Clean Your Garbage Disposal
Want to keep your garbage disposal smelling fresh and clean? Instead of buying those expensive balls or other products that you grind up, try using a lemon. Put lemon slices or pieces down it and turn it on until it’s well ground. This trick also works well with limes, oranges, or other citrus fruits, but it’s best with those that are soft. Lemons that are so past their prime that they are as hard as golf balls could give you problems and clog up your drain.
6. Slice and Freeze Extras
If you have extra lemons, you can slice them into wedges and freeze them. These are great to squeeze into drinks or recipes for a quick shot of lemon juice any time you need it. All you have to do is put lemon slices in a freezer safe container or freezer bag and freeze. Make sure you wash and dry the lemons well before slicing and freezing.
7. Use Lemon Juice to Season Your Food
If you’re trying to cut the salt out of your diet, lemon juice is a surprising way to add a bright flavor without adding sodium. Be careful about adding too much however, or you may have a tart aftertaste. Lime juice works well for this too.
The zest of a lemon is also a terrific way to add bright, citrusy flavor to vegetables, fish, or anywhere that you want a pop of fresh flavor.
8. Keep Foods From Turning Brown
Some foods will turn brown after you cut into them. Apples, avocados, and bananas are examples of these. This is something that happens when the air hits the flesh of these particular fruits, but it doesn’t mean that they are unsafe to eat. They can be unappealing to look at, however, especially if you’re using them in a dip, such as guacamole. The best way to keep these foods looking fresh is to squeeze a little lemon juice on the cut sides of them; the citric acid helps them keep their color. Don’t add too much; a little bit will do the job without adding a tart lemon flavor to your fruit. Store them in airtight containers in the fridge.
9. Polish Your Sinks
Your kitchen sink is one of the grimiest spots in your kitchen. It’s not surprising; everything from meat juices to mop water gets dumped down there.
While a lemon won’t necessarily get rid of all of the germs in your sink, the natural acid will kill a lot of bacteria, and leave your sink sparkling.
Simply sprinkle some coarse salt on the surface of your sink and use the cut side of half a lemon to scrub it well (be careful using salt on surfaces that may scratch). This is an easy and inexpensive way to make sure your sink is clean and sparkling after you’ve cleaned your kitchen.
10. Clean Your Produce
Don’t waste money on those expensive fruit and vegetable washes you often see in your produce aisle at the supermarket. Instead, mix the juice of one lemon with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Use this to spray any type of produce to kill germs and get rid of pesticides. Rinse in the sink when you’re done for all natural, clean, and ready to eat fruits and vegetables.
As you can see, throwing away whole lemons because they’ve hardened up in your fruit basket is unnecessary. After knowing these few easy to follow tips, the next time you’re at the store debating whether to buy two lemons or a whole bag because it’s less expensive, you’ll throw the bag in your cart without thinking.
Keep in mind that some of these same tips can also be used with other citrus fruits. Juiced oranges or limes can be thrown down your garbage disposal, and lime juice seasons both Mexican and Asian cuisines beautifully. Think outside the box, and you’ll never throw out an unused lemon again!