The big mistake you've been making when juicing lemons

One thing many home cooks and chefs hate is waste. Looking at everything that is being tossed away at the end of a large cooking or baking project can feel like literally throwing money in the trash, but with some foods it seems inevitable. Lemons can be a huge source of annoyance when it comes to waste, as not only is juicing lemons a much more difficult task than it would seem, once you're done it feels like half the fruit is now destined to go unused. However, there are a few tricks to getting the most juice possible out of your citrus, plus a ton of ways to use up almost all of the lemon you have leftover and cut down on kitchen waste.

NDTV Food says there are a few super easy ways to ensure you get the most juice possible out of your lemon. One way is to make the peel of your lemon softer and easier to juice by soaking it in a bowl of warm water. Another trick is to roll the lemon against a hard surface before cutting into it. Doing this will help you break down the membranes inside, allowing it to release juice more easily. You can also cut the lemon lengthwise, which exposes more of the pulp where the juice is contained, and use a fork to help you break the membranes deeper inside the flesh.

What to do with leftover lemon peels

The Kitchn has some useful tips on how to get the most out of your lemon. They explain the one thing they always do before juicing citrus is to save the zest. To do this, The Kitchn advises you to run the outside of your lemon over a microplane or peeler, saving these scraps in a freezer-safe bag. The zest can last up to three months in the freezer, giving you time to save up enough for any baked good or recipe that just needs a little something to brighten it up. 

If zest is not your thing or you have way too many lemons, Taste of Home offers some more waste-reducing uses for your rinds. One simple, impressive solution they recommend is making candy from the leftover peels. These small, sugary treats can be eaten alone or used to top baked goods for a sparkly, edible decoration. Citrus peels are also the base ingredient for marmalade! Make your own to give as gifts or enhance your morning toast. For a fun, adult-themed project, you can use citrus peels to infuse vodka and make your own flavorful cocktail blend.

Lemon peels are incredibly useful in cleaning as well. You can make a chemical-free all-purpose cleaner with a mixture of lemon peels and white vinegar, give your coffee pot a deep scrub by swirling around lemon rinds, ice, and salt, or create an all-natural potpourri with citrus rinds and herbs to eliminate lingering kitchen smells.