Lemons are one of the few — or maybe one of two — fruits with peels as valuable as their juicy flesh. Lemon zest is one of the quickest ways you can add the essence of sunshine to your dish, but sometimes you don’t need juice and zest at the same time, and these out-of-sync moments can leave you with a whole bunch of lemon rinds you’re not ready to use up just yet. Luckily, they freeze just fine.
I don’t know why this never occurred to me — I love freezing things (like ginger, for example) — but I’m glad it occurred to someone. Reddit user ehp29 recently dropped this tip into r/EatCheapAndHealthy, a subreddit devoted to — as you can probably guess — eating cheaply and healthfully:
I sometimes find that all I need for a dish is just a little hint of lemon zest, and I don’t want to have to go to the store and pick up a whole lemon I’m only going to use a little bit of.
So when I use fresh lemon juice for a dish, I stick the leftover peel in the freezer and pull out the peel to grate in bits when I need it. Lemon zest doesn’t really affect the texture of a dish, so it doesn’t really matter if it freezes well. Just the peel of one lemon should serve for quite a few dishes so it doesn’t take up much space in the freezer.
The same probably would work with orange or lime, I just find that lemon zest is the most common one. I love it in baked goods and oatmeal.
This is a smart move for two reasons — one obvious, and one that is less so. The obvious one is that the freezer stops the clock on the lemon peel’s decay, which allows you to use it at a later date, when it is needed. The less obvious one is that grating juiced lemon peels is annoying — they’re all soft and floppy — and freezing firms them up a bit, making for easier zesting. So the next time you make lemonade, or any other dish or beverage that requires a bunch of juiced lemons, toss the peels in a freezer bag and chuck ‘em in the ol’ icebox. Future you will be very glad you did.