Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits are a delicious and nutritious addition to any diet. Their tart, tangy juice can be enjoyed on its own, added to water or tea, used in cooking and baking, and mixed into smoothies and cocktails. But getting the most juice out of citrus can be tricky if you don’t know the proper techniques.
Choosing the Right Citrus
The first step to maximizing your citrus juice is selecting fresh, juicy fruit. Here are some tips for picking the best citrus:
- Look for fruits that feel heavy for their size, which indicates more juice inside.
- Avoid fruits with overly soft spots or wrinkled skin, which signal dryness.
- Choose citrus that springs back when gently pressed, signaling freshness.
- Pick fruit with smooth, brightly colored skin free of blemishes.
- Buy in-season citrus for optimal flavor and juice content.
Warm citrus will yield more juice than cold fruit straight from the fridge. Letting it come to room temperature before juicing helps release the juices inside the membranes.
Cutting and Sectioning Citrus
How you prep your citrus before juicing can make a difference in how much liquid you extract. Here are some tips:
- Always thoroughly wash the outside of the fruit to remove dirt and surface contaminants.
- Cut a small slice off the stem and blossom ends, which often contain bitter compounds.
- Roll the fruit vigorously on a hard surface before cutting to rupture the juice sacs inside.
- Cut the fruit crosswise, rather than from pole to pole, to expose more juice vesicles.
- Remove any excess pith, seeds, and membranes to concentrate the juicy sections.
Once your citrus is prepped, it’s time to extract all that tangy goodness. Here are some effective juicing techniques:
This traditional method uses a citrus juicer, also called a reamer or citrus press, to manually squeeze out juice. Here’s how to use this technique:
- Cut the fruit into halves or wedges that will fit into your juicer.
- Press and rotate the fruit over a container to catch juice.
- Press gently at first, then increase pressure as the fruit is depleted.
- Rotate frequently and reposition fruit to access all of the juice pockets.
- Finish by pressing hard to wring out every last drop.
Electric juicers provide effortless citrus juicing in just seconds. Two types that work well are:
- Citrus Press Juicers: Designed specifically for citrus, they have a cone-shaped pressing arm that crushes and spins fruit. Place citrus halves cut-side down over the cone and let it work its magic.
- Centrifugal Juicers: These high-powered machines shred citrus with a spinning blade then separate juice from pulp via centrifugal force. Cut fruit into small wedges to feed through the juicer chute.
Reaming Over a Glass
For a quick DIY approach, use a fork tine or wooden reamer tool to juice citrus directly into a glass. Simply puncture the flesh and twist back and forth to release juice into the vessel below. Add some elbow grease to squeeze every drop out of the pulp.
Tips for Maximizing Yield
Follow these expert tips to get the most precious juice out of your citrus:
- Always juice at room temperature.
- Roll citrus vigorously before juicing to break down pulp.
- Press gently, then increase pressure as fruit is depleted.
- Finish with hard pressing and twisting to get all the juice.
- Strain citrus juice through a fine mesh sieve to catch any solids.
- Mix strained leftover pulp with water and press again to recover more juice.
Juicing Different Citrus Varieties
Not all citrus is created equal when it comes to juicability. Here’s how to handle popular varieties:
- Look for navel oranges, which have higher juice content.
- Cut in half crosswise and juice each half by hand or with a press.
- Squeeze greens skins once fruit is depleted for extra juice.
- Prefer white and red varieties over pink for more juice.
- Cut in half pole to pole, then section into wedges to fit juicer.
- Remove any bitter white pith before juicing sections.
- Roll lemons vigorously on counter before juicing to maximize yield.
- Juice halves or quarters in a citrus press or reamer.
- Finish by squeezing scraped lemon skins by hand.
- Select Persian limes for ideal juice and flavor.
- Cut in half and juice on a reamer, rotating frequently.
- Press spent wedges firmly against reamer to get all the juice.
Here is a helpful comparison of the average juice yields from different citrus varieties:
|Citrus Variety||Ounces of Juice per Fruit|
Storing and Using Citrus Juice
Once you’ve put in the work to extract every precious drop of citrus juice, be sure to store it properly and use it while it’s at peak freshness:
- Storage: For short-term keeping, store citrus juice tightly sealed in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. For longer storage, freeze for 3-6 months.
- Add Acid: The acid in lemon or lime juice helps stabilize and extend the shelf life of other citrus juices.
- Extract Oils: Add a pinch of salt when juicing to help extract the beneficial volatile oils in citrus peels.
- Cook and Bake: Use fresh citrus juice to brighten sauces, marinades, dressings, and baked goods like cakes, muffins, and scones.
- Drink It: Enjoy citrus juice on its own, mixed into water or seltzer, or blended into refreshing smoothies and cocktails.
Getting the most out of your citrus involves choosing fresh, ripe fruit, cutting strategically, and using the right juicing method and pressure. Follow these expert tips to maximize yields from oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, and other juicy favorites. With the right approach, you can quench your thirst with the delicious, nutritious bounty of citrus juice Mother Nature provides.