Sunday, July 24, 2011

Enjoy fresh-squeezed lime juice . . . whenever you want it!


How many times have you bought limes, stored them in your fridge, forgot about them . . . just to find out they went bad when you wanted to use them in a recipe! :(


Well, that won’t happen to you any more if you follow this neat trick I learned last year from a Peruvian co-worker: on one of his vacation trips to Peru—and while shopping for produce at one of our many farmers’ markets—he happened to observe this old lady, at her stall, boiling a green liquid in a saucepan. He got curious and asked her what she was doing. The old lady succinctly told him that she was boiling lime juice. Evidently more curious now, he asked why. She then told him that it was the best way to preserve freshly squeezed lime juice for months. He had already asked “what” and “why” . . . so, the next logical question he asked was “how” . . . and here is the “how-to”. This is not a recipe, but rather a method, and I guess you can perfectly adapt it to lemons, as well.

After learning about this “trick”, I’ve done it twice so far and, each time, the lime juice has lasted in my fridge for months at a time! I didn’t write about it before because I wanted to make sure it was a tried-and-true method.

I made a “fresh batch” this morning and thought this would be the perfect time to tell you all about it. And it can’t be any simpler.  You'll just need:
  • limes (the more the merrier . . . today I used 30 big organic limes, which yields approximately 5 cups of juice)
  • a sharp knife
  • a cutting board
  • a reamer or citrus press
  • a non-reactive saucepan (mine is 2.5 qt.)
  • a fine-mesh strainer
  • a glass bottle with a cap (I use an old Paul Masson wine bottle)


  • Wash your limes under cool running water, scrubbing them lightly with your hands to loosen any debris.
  • Cut the limes in half crosswise (through the middle, not from end to end) . . . but—first—pressing the limes to your cutting board with your palm, roll them back and forth applying steady pressure to the exterior of the fruit. Kneading the lime slightly like this will help to break down any tightness and ensure you get even more juice. If you are taking your limes straight out from the fridge, stick them in the microwave—a good 20-30 seconds on high helps the citrus juice to flow more easily. Let them sit on the counter for a minute before juicing.


    
  • With a bowl underneath to catch the juice (I did it straight into the saucepan), hold the lime in one hand and press with the reamer into the center of the exposed side, twisting and grinding the ridges of the reamer against the inside walls of the lime to force out all of the juice. If you are using a citruss press, place one of the lime halves inside the citrus press with its flat, cut side facing down. Press the citrus press together to squeeze out the lime juice.


    
  • Put the saucepan onto the stove over medium-high heat and wait until the juice comes to a roaring boil. Take the saucepan off the stove immediately.


  • Strain the lime juice through a fine-mesh strainer (to catch any seeds and pulp) into a clean bowl and let cool to room temperature.



  • While waiting for the juice to cool down completely, this would be the perfect time to clean the saucepan.


    
  • Pour the juice into a measuring cup (simply for ease of pouring) and then carefully fill your glass bottle.  Put the cap on the bottle and store it in the fridge.



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4 comments:

Mike Mitchell said...

Bless you Susy. I live in Portugal and always have a big harvest of wonderful juicy limes. Your simple way of preserving them has made my life much easier and the result is excellent. Thank you.
Mike Mitchell

Susy Slais said...

Glad to hear it helped you Mike!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Susy, thanks for your post. Just a few quick questions:

1) Do you have any idea how long the lime juice would last non-refrigerated?
2) Have you tried keeping the pulp instead of throwing it out? A nice touch!

Thanks,
Michael

Susy Slais said...

Hi Michael,

Thank you for your questions!
1. Every time I've boiled the lime juice, I've put it away in the refrigerator (after letting it cool down), following the exact instructions I was given, so I wouldn't know for sure if you can leave it non-refrigerated!
2. As to leaving the pulp in the juice, I guess it's mainly a matter of taste. I generally use the lime juice for making limeade or for ceviche, and I prefer mine pulp-free. :)