Mary-Linh Tran

Junior Food Editor at Kitchen Stories

instagram.com/mlteacup/

The best way to shop? With the seasons. Every 2 weeks at Kitchen Stories, we’ll be highlighting a different in-season ingredient along with 3 new recipes.

There are few ingredients as ubiquitous as the lemon. This yellow, oval-shaped citrus fruit is loved around the world for its puckery, lip-smacking tartness. At the peak of their season, lemons are pulpy, bright, and full of juice. They’re packed to the rim with vitamin C, alongside fiber, potassium, and citric acid, a natural antioxidant that helps remove detrimental free radicals from the body.

Whether it’s squeezed over grilled fish, slow-cooked meat roasts, sauces, marinades, soups, or even cake batter, beckon a lemon whenever you need to jazz up your food and beverages. As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade—just don’t forget you can also dehydrate them, candy them, preserve them, in addition to preparing them fresh.

1. When and how to buy lemon

Lemons are available at supermarkets pretty much all year-round, which makes it easy to forget that they indeed have a season, which runs from late fall throughout the winter. When shopping for lemons, look for vibrant yellow bulbs that are small and heavy. Bigger lemons tend to be mostly pith, the spongy white tissue under the rind that’s bitter and astringent.

As with most produce, make sure the lemon is free of any bruising, blemishes, or wrinkles.

2. Storing and preparing lemon

Lemons are juiciest when stored at room temperature, but leaving them out also makes them prone to going bad quickly. So if you plan on eating them later in the week, definitely store them in the crisper drawer in the fridge, where they can last up to a month. Then, when you’re ready to use them, simply take them out and let them come to room temperature before juicing. I like to also roll my lemons on the kitchen counter to help release some of the pulp and make them easier to juice.

Another way to store lemons is to preserve them. To do this, grab your lemons and quarter them lengthwise, without slicing through the base. You want them to keep their shape, so you can easily stuff them with salt. I like to put about one tablespoon per lemon, but the amount varies depending on the size of each lemon. Pack them into a sterilized glass jar, pressing each lemon down as you go to release its juices. Make sure the lemons are submerged in lemon juice and salt before you seal and leave it to do its thing (for umami-rich flavors, leave it alone for at least one month!) The longer it sits, the tangier, sweeter, and more lemony it becomes.

3. All the ways to enjoy in season lemon

You know how people say salt is a flavor enhancer and that’s why we add it to everything we cook? Well, I’m from a camp that believes every dish needs some form of acidity—my acid of choice? Citrus, which more often than not, ends up being lemons. Think about it this way: acidity provides contrast. It sharpens the surrounding flavors so that we can better detect the complexity and richness of all the ingredients that make up one dish.

Lemons pair well with both sweet and savory ingredients, from garlic, parsley, and nuts to blueberries, vanilla, and even white wine. Seafood will always taste better with a squeeze of lemon, and I’d even say pasta sauces, most stews, and all salad dressings can benefit from generous spritz—trust me, it’s nearly impossible to ruin a dish with lemon.

4. What to make next

All week long, we'll be featuring new lemon recipes on Kitchen Stories. Check back to see what's new, then try one for yourself! Here's where to start:

Lemon-lavender yogurt loaf

Lemon-lavender yogurt loaf

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Lemon and hazelnut spaghetti carbonara

Lemon and hazelnut spaghetti carbonara

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Lemon and poppy seed Swiss roll

Lemon and poppy seed Swiss roll

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Lemony salmon with creamed spinach and mushrooms

Lemony salmon with creamed spinach and mushrooms

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Lemony tiramisu in a glass

Lemony tiramisu in a glass

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Lemony winter pasta with roasted cauliflower

Lemony winter pasta with roasted cauliflower

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Lemon jelly cheesecake

Lemon jelly cheesecake

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Whole lemon pasta

Whole lemon pasta

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Lemon chicken soup

Lemon chicken soup

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More delicious ideas for you