Types of Lemons
A much smaller Meyer lemon crop comes rom California, Arizona, and Florida. Meyer lemons are sweeter than regular lemons, with an orange-like flavor and aroma.
Lemon SeasonUnlike other citrus, lemons don't need a ton of heat to ripen. They also bloom and ripe concurrently - that is, they'll have blossoms and fruit on the same tree at the same time. Trees in particularly temperate areas can have fruit ripening year-round (or almost). Commercial trees, however, tend to be harvest 3 or 4 times in their season, which is about 6 months long. Most lemons (95%) grown in the U.S. are from California and Arizona, with coastal California groves harvesting in late winter through early summer and Arizona groves harvesting in fall and early winter.
Choosing LemonsAs with all fruits, look for lemons that feel heavy for their size. Also, the old wives' tale is true: smaller citrus fruit is juicier. As luck would have it, our bigger-is-better culture has made smaller citrus fruit cheaper too. Look for small, heavy fruit without bruises, cuts, or blemishes that will lead it to rot or mold quickly.
Storing LemonsLemons will be juiciest when stored at room temperature, but will keep longer if stored loosely wrapped in plastic in the hydrator (crisper) drawer in the fridge.
Freezing LemonsThe juice sacs in the lemons will burst if you freeze the fruits whole. Lemon juice, however, freezes very nicely indeed. So feel free to juice lemons and freeze the juice - in quarts, cups, or ice cubes, whatever amount works best for you.
Lemon zest - the bright yellow part of the peel (never include the bitter white pith beneath)- also freezes very well. Grate it off of lemons before you juice them, freeze it in a small resealable plastic bag, and use in teaspoon portions to add to salad dressings, soups, or roasts.
Using Whole Lemons
- Have lemons at room temperature
- Roll lemons firmly on a counter with the palm of your hand to loosen juice sacs
- Cut in half and juice with a lemon reamer, or citrus juicer
- Or - my favorite method - cut into quarters, leaving the stem end attached, and squeeze with your hands, using your fingers to work out every bit of juice (this method also whitens your fingernails, softens your cuticles, and smooths your skin)