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It used to seem like every time I was making a recipe that called for citrus, I never had any on hand. I’d go to the fridge crossing my fingers that the forgotten bottle of lemon or lime juice in the back was less than a year past date. And when I did have lemons or limes in the house, it seemed like I could never use them up before they turned hard and brown. When I realized I could freeze my citrus, it was like a whole new world! Because citrus fruits only last about two weeks in the refrigerator, freezing is a sure fire way to make sure that nothing, not even the peel, goes to waste.
How to freeze citrus fruits
Freezing the entire citrus fruit:
1. Wash your fruit. Cut away any areas of broken skin, which can contain microorganisms that lead to food-borne illness. Leave the fruit whole, cut it in half, or slice into sections.
2. Use one of these two methods to freeze:
- Wet pack your citrus fruits by placing them in a freezer-safe canning jar. Fill the jar with water, juice, or a mixture of water and sugar. Be sure to leave 1 ½ inches of space at the top to allow room for the citrus to expand as it freezes. Crumple up a piece of wax paper and stuff it into the top of the jar to keep the fruit from floating to the top.
- Dry pack your citrus fruit by laying the slices out on a cookie sheet. Place in the freezer for a few hours, or until the fruit is completely frozen. Drop the frozen citrus slices into a freezer-safe zip-top bag. I find this method particularly useful when I need just a few slices of lemon for my iced tea or to cool down a beverage.
Freezing the rind:
Peel off the rind in large strips. This way you can zest the thawed fruit as you need it. Place the citrus peels on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid, then pop them into freezer-safe bags.
Freezing the juice:
Roll your citrus fruit on the countertop to help release its juices. Juice all of your fruit using a commercial juicer, a reamer, or even your own hands. Pour the juice into ice cube trays and freeze. After the cubes are frozen solid, remove them from the tray and place them in a zip bag. One lemon cube is equal to about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
- Be sure to label all containers with a permanent marker, noting the contents and date.
- You can store all citrus parts and juice in your freezer for up to one year.
- Thaw the entire fruit, slices, rind or juice in the refrigerator overnight or add them frozen to your favorite recipe or drink.
Check out our many other “How to Freeze” articles here!