01 of 07
How to Juice a Lemon, Lime, and Other Citrus Fruit for Drinks
We all know that fresh juice makes the best drinks and that citrus are the most often used fruits in drinks. It is only logical, then, that we use fresh citrus whenever we can and the great news is that these are the easiest fruits to juice.
In the following pages we will review the different ways and tools needed to get fresh juice from lemons, limes, oranges, even grapefruit. If it's a citrus fruit, you can juice it in minutes. Most of the techniques require a tool, though the majority of... those are inexpensive and store neatly in the bar or kitchen drawer.
Before we look at the how, here are a few tips for prepping the fruit for juicing.
- Warm It - You will get more juice out of your citrus if you take them out of the refrigerator and allow them to warm to room temperature before juicing. Set fruits out for at least thirty minutes or, for a quick warm up, pop fruit in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.
- Roll It - Before cutting the fruit, roll it under the palm of your hand while pressing firmly downward on the counter top. This will also increase the juice yield.
- Cut It - In almost every instance, you will simply need to cut the fruit in half. The only exception is for the squeeze, in which case a wedge works best.
Every piece of fruit holds a different amount of juice and factors such as size, growing environment, and variety of the fruit will impact how much juice citrus will hold.
On average you can expect to get:
- 1 grapefruit = 3/4 cup or 5-6 ounces
- 1 orange = 1/4 cup or 2-3 ounces
- 1 lemon = 3 Tablespoons or 1 3/4 ounce
- 1 lime = 1 Tablespoon or 1/2 - 1 ounce
While it is often recommended to use citrus juice immediately, it can be stored in the refrigerator when needed.
- Choose glass containers with tight-sealing lids. Plastic does break down and is never a good idea for long-term or reusable storage of any fresh mixer.
- Most citrus juice can be stored for a few weeks, though you will find it best if used within a few days.
If you want to get geeky about citrus juice, read 8 Tips and Tricks for Getting the Most Out of Citrus on SeriousEats.Continue to 2 of 7 below.
02 of 07
A Splash of Fresh Citrus Juice? Just Squeeze It!
Many drink recipes call for a splash, squeeze, or squirt of fresh juice, often with lemon or lime. This is the easiest fresh juice technique and it requires no tools other than a knife.
To Squeeze Citrus by Hand
- Cut the fruit into wedges (save some for the garnish as well).
- Hold the wedge over the glass or cocktail shaker between your thumb and fingers.
- Squeeze to release all of the juice from the fruit. You may also want to use your other hand as a shield so juice doesn't accidentally squirt... into your face.
For some drinks like the Gin & Tonic, the wedge is often used as a garnish and the drinker can opt to squeeze the juice themselves.Continue to 3 of 7 below.
03 of 07
The Bartender's Favorite: A Hand Squeezer for Juicing Citrus
The citrus squeezer is a hand tool that uses the force of your muscles to gently squeeze the fresh juices from lemons and limes and it is a favorite tool among bartenders. Use this juicer for recipes that call for "juice of 1/2 a lime" or those with measurements for juice.
This is the perfect option for mixing single drinks. The advantage of this juicer is that the seeds stay in the press and the juice is typically pulp-free.
This style of citrus juicer can often be found for around $20-40 and... come in two sizes. The smaller of the two will work specifically for limes while the larger one is best for both lemons and limes (on occasion you can find one for oranges and larger citrus). I would also recommend purchasing one that is made of stainless steel as I have had inexpensive plastic juicers snap under normal force.
To Juice Citrus with a Squeezer
- Cut the fruit in half.
- Place one half in the press so that the peel rests naturally in the curve of the press.
- Close the juicer and, using both hands, gently squeeze the two pieces together until the fruit releases all of its juice.
Again, be careful not to let juice squirt into your face (particularly your eyes).Continue to 4 of 7 below.
04 of 07
The Old-Fashioned Reamer for Juicing Citrus
This funky looking gadget is a citrus reamer and it is another option for juicing. It is not used often in the bar because it often requires the straining of seeds and pulp and is rather messy in comparison to the squeezer. However, it is cheap and if it is all you have, it does the trick.
To Juice Citrus with a Reamer
- Cut the fruit in half.
- Hold one half in the palm of your hand, pulp facing out and at about a 45 degree angle.
- Press the reamer into the... pulp and twist to pulverize the pulp and allow the juices to run into a bowl or glass.
- Before mixing into drinks, strain the juice in a fine mesh strainer to remove any stray seeds and most of the excess pulp.
The acids of citrus juices can irritate hands with cuts or rough skin, so it is best to use care and wash your hands often when using a reamer.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
The Cheapest Juicer for Bulk Citrus Juices
Another old-fashioned juicer, this is a great way to get a lot of fresh citrus juice on the cheap. These juicers are also small enough to fit in a drawer and they do an amazing job at getting the most juice out of fruit.
This style of juicer comes in a few forms. The glass juicer in the picture is my personal favorite (it's the actual juicer I use) because it takes up very little space, the tray holds just enough juice so I only have to dump once per half a fruit, and it cleans up very... easily. These are also very common to find second-hand and some of the vintage juicers have great style. To ensure a seed and pulp-free juice, a fine mesh strainer is required.
The other option is often made of stainless steel and it often has holes in the bottom of the tray so seed- and pulp-free juice falls directly into the (often) included bowl. These are nice and very convenient as well.
To Juice Citrus with a Manual Juicer
- Cut the fruit in half.
- Place one half, pulp side down, onto the reamer.
- Press firmly and rotate the fruit on the reamer until all of the juice is released.
- Strain if needed.
This citrus juicer typically comes in one size that will fit lemon, lime, orange, and smaller grapefruit.
Use this juicer when making large quantities of juice for storage, stocking up for a party, or making a pitcher of fresh lemonade or the like.Continue to 6 of 7 below.
06 of 07
Need A Lot of Citrus Juice? Get a Press
If you are serious about juicing citrus then this style of press would be a good investment. It is larger than the previous options and does cost more, though a decent one can still be found for under $100. Do keep in mind that this requires manual force, so you will get what you pay for and it is best to choose a well-built press.
With this counter top style of citrus juicer you can squeeze a lot of fruit in very little time. It is a perfect option if you have space in the kitchen, love fresh... citrus juice, and want a good workout at the same time.
To Juice Citrus with a Press
- Cut fruit in half.
- Place one half on the reamer, pulp side down.
- Grab the arm and forcefully pull the handle down until all of the juice is released.
In most instances, this press will produce a relatively pulp- and seed-free juice, though a strainer may be needed.Continue to 7 of 7 below.
07 of 07
Go Electric and Juice it Up!
The final option for getting juice out of citrus fruit is, arguably, the easiest (or it is supposed to be). There are many electric juicers available and a number of them are either dedicated to citrus or include an attachment for juicing citrus. The design of either option is essentially the same as any other citrus juicer, though the reamer is rotated or vibrated by an electric motor.
There are advantages and disadvantages to using an electric juicer for citrus fruits and it is more of a... personal choice.
If you are looking for a versatile juicer that will juice a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as citrus, this may be a good option. Also, if any physical disabilities prohibit you from using a manual option, this would be your best choice.
I have an electric juicer and love it. However, my model does have a citrus attachment and I have found that I cannot get the same yield from it as I can from any of the other tools in this article. It is simply easier for me to maximize my juice by using a manual juicer.
The other disadvantages that come with an electric juicer are the cost and space that they require. Also, there is the noise, though if you don't mind another whirling motor in the kitchen, this may not bother you.