Preserving Citrus

I love citrus.  I use it in sweet dishes, savory dishes, condiments, sauces, salts, sugars, salsas, dressings, and of course beverages.  Rarely do I make a cocktail without the addition of either lemon or lime…booze usually needs that little bit of zesty tartness to round out the “burn” of the alcohol and to mellow whatever sweetness was added, usually in the form of simple syrup, honey or straight up sugar.  

Citrus can be an anchor in a dish or a highlighter…think lemon curd vs. blueberry muffins with just a hint of lemon zest.  Citrus also often acts as a balancing ingredient; the bright flavor of an acid (citrus) can tone down the heavy flavor of something cream-, butter-, or oil-based:  you can do wonders by adding a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to a cream sauce.  An acid can also liven up other flavors; when you add lemon juice to basil pesto or lime juice to cilantro pesto it wakes up and accentuates the flavor of the herbs and adds a boost of freshness (as well as keeps them from browning).  

Citrus is one of those secret weapon ingredients in the kitchen.  It’s also not grown anywhere close to me; the primary growers in the U.S. are in Florida and California.  I’ve accepted the fact that citrus is not a local food for me (same with avocados, bananas, mango, and coconut), but I try to use it most when it’s in peak season:  winter and into spring (roughly December thru April).  Therefore, this spring I decided to buy a bunch of lemons, limes, and oranges, juice them and freeze them.  It took some time and effort, but my house smelled Uh-mazing!  And now I have a freezer full of citrus cubes and juice!

I cut all the lemons, limes, and oranges in half; juiced them with an electric juicer; strained the juice through a fine mesh sieve; then poured the juice into ice cube trays and freezer bags in 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup portions.  After the juice cubes were frozen, I transferred them to freezer bags.  I labeled all the bags with the date and type of citrus.  

I also froze all the citrus halves to use for zesting later…no waste!

Bring on the booze!  Margaritas are mos def in my near future!

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