Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Juicy Details

(Or: How to easily juice a lemon, lime or other citrus fruit.)

If you're like me, it was a mystery (pre-YouTube) on how to easily and/or effectively juice those pesky citrus fruits. Every time a recipe called for "the juice of one lime" or "the juice of half a lemon," I resorted to roughly estimated squirts from those plastic fruit-shaped bottles of juice that you find slightly hidden in your grocer's fresh produce department. While this is certainly not the worst way to address such ingredients, it's not nearly as good as that from fresh fruit.

So, I turned to YouTube. I was astounded that all it took was a simple spoon to make this process easy. Or, was it? The first time I tried the spoon technique, I was rewarded with a lot of juice. And, disappointingly, a lot of pulp. Thus, I purchased a strainer (a fine mesh one, not the one I use for pasta, etc.). This actually worked really, really well. I was happy. I was content. I was not searching for a better method.

Until the day a better method accidentally presented itself.

As anyone with the internet & modern convenience devices certainly knows, the best way to extract the maximum juice from a citrus fruit is to give it a dozen or so seconds in the microwave. (You didn't now this? Well, now you do.) So here I was, strainer & spoon ready, when I popped the recipe-required lime in the microwave for a bit of warming.

I hit the "minute-plus" button on the microwave (instead of the actual seconds)...
and walked away to complete another step of the recipe.
Oh, dear - what happened next!

At about 50 seconds, I heard a loud "pop" followed by a "hiss." I ran to the microwave and hit the stop button, expecting total disaster. Instead, I found an intact lime with a tiny bit of juice underneath it. I carefully pulled it out (it was REALLY hot), and put it on the cutting board to cool.

After I'd let it cool, I went to cut it and discovered a small hole. For some reason, I just picked up the fruit and started to squeeze, and wow... it was like the plastic lime-shaped bottle, only easier & fresher! The juice came out, the pulp stayed in - it was amazing - so much juice! (And, no strainer or spoon required - bonus.)

In case it was a fluke, I tried it again - with the same results (this test was a lemon). I began to think DANGER, this thing could explode! - so on the next try I pre-cut an exit hole. Don't do this. It did NOT work as expected. The lime picked it's own exit hole and now I was left with 2 holes to extract from. It still worked, but it was a bit messy, plus I don't think it cut down on the explosion risk much - just saying.

So, now you know, you can juice your citrus easily with just the microwave. Put it on, stand by (from a safe distance, because sometimes they probably will just explode) and when you hear the "pop" hit stop. Please, use CAUTION, CAUTION - I have no scientific knowledge of when or how this could go wrong, but I'm sure it could. Plus, they get REALLY HOT (use oven mitts!). In the meantime, your microwave will never smell better.