Lemon juice is a versatile and healthy ingredient that can add flavor, acidity, and nutrients to many dishes and beverages. While having a juicer makes juicing lemons quick and easy, it is still possible to juice lemons without one using some simple kitchen tools and techniques.
Why Juice Lemons
There are many reasons why you may want fresh lemon juice even if you don’t have a juicer on hand:
- Adding brightness and acidity to savory dishes like fish, chicken, salads, and more
- Using in dressings, marinades, and sauces
- Making lemon water for a refreshing and healthy beverage
- Baking recipes that call for lemon juice as an ingredient
- Mixing with water and honey for a homemade lemonade
- Boosting the flavor of sweets like pies, cakes, cookies, and more
- Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in your home
Lemon juice is an excellent source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and other nutrients that can benefit your health and cooking. Having fresh lemon juice on hand can be very useful for both cooking and cleaning purposes.
Juicing lemons without a juicer takes a little more effort, but can easily be accomplished with items you likely have available in your kitchen. Here are the basic materials you will need:
- Lemons – The number will depend on how much juice you need. Plan on 2-3 medium lemons per 1/4 cup of juice.
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Glass or bowl
- Cheesecloth, coffee filter, fine mesh strainer, or nut milk bag (optional)
- Storage containers – Jars, bottles, or squeeze bottles work well to store the juice.
That’s really all you need to juice lemons without a fancy appliance. Now let’s get into the different methods you can use.
Here are 5 simple methods for juicing lemons using common kitchen tools:
1. Hand Squeeze
This is the classic, easy way that doesn’t require any special tools. Simply cut the lemon in half and squeeze by hand over a bowl, glass, or measuring cup. You can squeeze each half several times over your container to get all the juice out.
This works best for juicing just a lemon or two. Any more than that can become tiring on your hands. You’ll also want to strain the juice after to remove any seeds and pulp.
2. Spoon or Fork Press
After cutting the lemon in half, use a spoon or fork to press and mash the lemon against the sides of a bowl. The tines or bowl of the spoon crush the lemon, releasing more juice than hand squeezing alone.
Keep mashing and rotating the lemon until you’ve gotten all the juice out. Make sure to strain afterward if you don’t want pulp or seeds.
A reamer is a small handheld tool with a fluted surface used to extract juice from citrus fruits. Place a halved lemon on a bowl and press and twist the reamer to crush the lemon and collect the juice below.
Reamers allow you to quickly juice multiple lemons with less effort than hand squeezing. The fluted end helps extract more juice as well. Just be sure to strain the juice after reaming.
4. Mortar and Pestle
You can use a mortar and pestle to crush lemons and release their juices. First cut the lemon into several wedges, removing any seeds. Add them to the mortar along with a spoonful of water. Grind the lemon pieces using the pestle in a circular motion.
Once crushed, let the mixture sit for a few minutes to allow the juices to release. Then pour the contents through a strainer into a glass or bowl, pressing on the solids. This yields a lot of fresh lemon juice minus the pulp and seeds.
5. Muddler and Bowl
A muddler, which is often used in cocktails, can also juice lemons. After cutting the lemon into quarters or eighths, place the pieces in a sturdy bowl. Use the muddler to press, mash, and crush the lemons against the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Rotate the lemons to crush any unjuiced parts and thoroughly mash. Let sit briefly, then pour the contents through a strainer, pressing on the solids to yield a smooth, pulp-free lemon juice.
Tips for Getting the Most Juice
Follow these tips when juicing lemons without a juicer to maximize the amount of juice you get:
- Roll the lemon on the counter while pressing down before cutting it open. This helps break down the pulp and release more juice.
- Cut the lemons in half from top to bottom or into quarters lengthwise. This exposes more juice sacs than thin rounds.
- Squeeze each half/quarter over a bowl until no more juice comes out. Then switch to a new section.
- Crush lemons thoroughly when using utensils like a spoon, fork, or muddler. The more the pulp breaks down, the more juice you’ll get.
- Let lemon halves, wedges, or crushed lemons sit for 5 minutes after squeezing to allow juice to pool. Then pour into a strainer.
- When straining, press or mash the pulp against the strainer to get any remaining juice out.
- Serve lemon juice right away or store in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Straining and Storing the Juice
Unless you enjoy the taste and texture of lemon pulp in your recipes, you’ll want to strain the juice after juicing. Here are some options for straining and storing lemon juice:
- Fine mesh strainer: Use to strain juice into a bowl or glass. The strainer catches pulp, seeds, and bits of rind.
- Cheesecloth: Place over a bowl and pour juice through to strain. Gather edges and squeeze out liquid.
- Coffee filter: Set in funnel or strainer. Slowly pour juice through to filter out solids.
- Nut milk bag: Secure over a jar or bowl and pour juice inside. Squeeze bag to get all the liquid out.
- Mason jars: Great for storing larger batches of juice. Keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Squeeze bottles: Store smaller amounts and make it easy to get every drop of juice out.
- Ice cube trays: Pour juice into trays and freeze. Transfer cubes to a bag for longer storage.
- Vacuum sealed bottles: Keeps air out to maintain freshness. Pour into other containers as needed.
Properly stored lemon juice will maintain its fresh, vibrant taste for several days to a week. Tightly seal containers and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Recipes Using Fresh Lemon Juice
Here are some recipes that can benefit from the bright, fresh taste of homemade lemon juice:
This simple dressing livens up any salad.
|Salt and pepper
Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl or jar. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Drizzle over salad greens or use as a marinade for chicken, fish, or veggies.
Lemon Chicken Piccata
This pan-fried chicken dish features a bright, lemony sauce.
|2 tbsp, chopped
Pound chicken to 1/2″ thickness.Season with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Melt butter with oil in pan over medium-high heat. Cook chicken 2-3 minutes per side until browned. Remove chicken from pan. Add broth and lemon juice, scraping up browned bits. Return chicken to pan along with capers and simmer until sauce reduced by half. Stir in parsley and serve chicken topped with sauce.
Lemon Blueberry Scones
Tender scones bursting with lemon and blueberry flavor.
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk and lemon juice and stir just until dough comes together. Fold in blueberries. Turn out onto floured surface and knead gently. Form into 8-inch disk and cut into 8 wedges. Bake 15-18 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.
Use this troubleshooting guide if you have any issues juicing lemons without a juicer:
|Not getting much juice out
|Juice is bitter
|Pulp in strained juice
|Juice spoils quickly
Frequently Asked Questions
Should lemons be rolled before juicing?
Yes, rolling lemons on a hard surface before juicing helps soften the pulp and release more juice. Apply firm downward pressure while rolling back and forth.
Is juice from a lemon squeezer as good as from a juicer?
A quality lemon squeezer can extract just as much juice from a lemon as a full-size juicer. Some even have teeth or a reamer to crush the lemon for maximum juice.
How long does fresh lemon juice last?
Lemon juice will stay fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. For longer storage, freeze juice in ice cube trays for several months.
What’s the best lemon juice substitute?
Good lemon juice substitutes include lime juice, white vinegar, or vitamin C tablets in water. You can also use commercial bottled lemon juice in a pinch.
Is it possible to juice lemons by hand?
Yes, you can absolutely juice lemons by hand squeezing. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze each half in your palm over a bowl until no more juice comes out. Be sure to strain afterward.
With just a few simple kitchen tools and proper technique, it’s easy to juice lemons at home without a fancy appliance. Methods like hand squeezing, using a fork or spoon, or tools like a reamer, mortar and pestle, or muddler all allow you to crush lemons to release their refreshing juice. Be sure to thoroughly strain the juice to remove pulp and seeds. Stored properly in airtight containers in the fridge, fresh lemon juice will keep for up to a week.
The next time a recipe calls for fresh lemon juice, don’t worry if you don’t have a juicer. With one of these methods, you can make juice that’s just as fresh and flavorful. Add bright, vibrant lemon juice to everything from salad dressings to seafood, baked goods, and more for a pop of citrus flavor.