7 ways to squeeze the most juice out of a lemon

When I hosted my lemonade infusions cooking class, we had a lot of lemons to squeeze. When I handed one of the attendees a lemon and a juicer, she looked at me with an expression of confusion.

I ended up teaching her how to squeeze the lemon juice from a fresh lemon with a mechanical citrus juicer.

Could it be that not everybody knows how to squeeze a lemon to get fresh lemon juice?


My friend, Luke, likes to use bottled lemon and lime juice for his cocktails. However, the few times I’ve used fresh lemon juice, he agrees it’s more flavorful and probably worth the effort.

While convenience is hard to beat, it doesn’t take that much work to juice a lemon.

So, why are people using bottled lemon juice and store-bought lemonade when it’s easy to juice fresh lemons and make homemade lemonade?

Fresh lemonade is easy to make a home. Plus, you get to control the amount of sugar and add fizzy water to make it extra refreshing.

Lemons are a fundamental ingredient in our kitchen for everyday cooking. Many different cuisines use lemons, especially lemon juice as an ingredient.

Just as there are many versatile uses for lemon juice from marinades to salad dressing to beverages to jams to desserts, there are many creative ways to extract lemon juice depending on your personality and style 😉 .

Considering how useful juicing a lemon is, let’s explore 7 different ways to juice a fresh lemon.


For the Posh Yuppies

You can use:

  • a knife
  • an electric citrus juicer

If you can buy an electric citrus juicer without balking at the price tag, acquiring another kitchen gadget with a narrow use case, then congrats on being a Posh Yuppie.

Instructions

  1. Slice your lemon in half with a sharp chef’s knife.
  2. Plug in your citrus juicer.
  3. Put a lemon-half cut-side down into the machine.
  4. I’m pretty sure you push down, and the lemon should practically juice itself. (My instructions may be wrong because we don’t own an electric citrus juicer. Check out YouTube for tutorials?)

Pros: The electric citrus juicer can handle a dozen or more lemons at a time without making you break a sweat. That means you can make freshly squeezed orange juice at home for your weekend mimosas.

Plus, these expensive stainless-steel appliances look great on your granite countertops. They might collect dust as they wait for you to juice the odd lemon or two every 6 months.

But hey, at least it’s there when you need it.

Cons: You miss the opportunity to build your wrist strength since the motor does all the work. As a result, the quality of your selfie angles might suffer.


For the Frugal Foodies

You can use:

  • a knife
  • a mechanical citrus juicer
  • a microwave

Unlike the Posh Yuppies, you’re willing to give your wrist a mini-workout. If cooking is your hobby, you’re careful with money, and you don’t want to live like a caveman, skip the electric citrus juicer and opt of the mechanical citrus juicer.

Instructions

  1. Follow the instructions for the Posh Yuppie.
  2. Except, zap the lemon in the microwave for 45 seconds before slicing in half.
  3. Put your lemon-half into the mechanical citrus juicer.
  4. Push down on the lemon and twist until you extract out all the lemon juice.
  5. Collect the juice in a bowl.
A citrus reamer chilling out on a rock, basking in the sun while it contemplates its meaning in life.

Pros: The citrus reamer on a mechanical juicer extracts the maximum amount of juice quickly.

The well-designed reamers are ergonomic and usually contain a seed catcher. Saving $$$ compared to the Posh Yuppies.    

Cons: Can’t brag about having an electric juicer.


For the Hipster “Bartender”

You can use:

  • a knife
  • a citrus press

Not concerned about maximizing all the juice from the lemon?

Is the citrus reamer too boring for you?

The citrus press is the perfect gadget for you.

You can use a citrus press to squeeze out lemon juice at a fast enough rate to entertain your guests at your home Tiki bar.

Instructions

  1. Slice the lemon in half with your sharpened Wüsthof knife.
  2. Put the lemon into the citrus press with the cut side facing the reamer.
  3. Squeeze the press shut.
  4. Discard the lemon with half of the juice left.

Pros: A citrus press tells everybody you’re a pro without giving up your edge compared to the Posh Yuppies.

Cons: The citrus press can’t do much more than juice lemons and limes (too small for oranges to make orange juice).  


For the Poor Dorm-Room Students

You can use:

  • a knife
  • a fork

Similar to the Tiny Homer, you live in a tiny space as part of the path to self-actualization. But your limited space is packed with roommates and you probably don’t have a microwave.

Let’s take advantage of your limited utensils to juice the lemon.

Instructions

  1. Get the sharpest knife you can find, even if it’s your butter knife.
  2. Slice the lemon in half.
  3. Find a handy cup to collect the lemon juice (bonus points if the cup isn’t disgusting from a beer pong match).
  4. Use a fork like a reamer and squeeze the lemon around the fork.
  5. Gradually rotate the lemon as you squeeze to extract as much juice out as possible.

Pros: The technique allows you to enjoy fresh lemon juice extracted with utensils that even a dorm room will have.

Cons: You might not have a butter knife. In which case, try the Minimalist strategy.


For the Tiny Homers

You can use:

  • a knife
  • a fork
  • a strainer (optional)

You’ve sold or given up most of your possessions that don’t “spark joy”. You’ve moved into your Tiny House (probably in your parents’ backyard).

Maybe you don’t have space for a mechanical — let alone electric — citrus juicer.

But you’ve probably got a chef’s knife, a fork, and a strainer neatly organized your Tiny Kitchen, right?

Instructions

  1. Sharpen your knife.
  2. Slice the lemon in half.
  3. Put a strainer over the bowl to collect the juice. The strainer separates out the seeds and pulp.
  4. Follow the same instructions as the Frugal Foodies but use a fork instead of a reamer to squeeze out all the juice. 

Pros: The fork extracts about the same amount of juice as a reamer. Yay for repurposing flatware.

Cons: Your hands get tired faster than if you use a mechanical citrus juicer. If your Tiny Kitchen is too small for a strainer, follow the technique from the Poor Dorm-Room Students.  

If your Tiny House is even tighter than a dorm room, first contemplate your choices in life. Then follow the Hard-Core Minimalist technique.


For the Lean FIRE Optimizers

You can use:

  • a knife
  • a fork
  • a strainer (optional)
  • a microwave (optional)

You live like a college student to keep your lifestyle far below your means.

I get it.

But you’ve probably got a bit more disposable income than Poor Dorm-Room college students and a tad more room than the Tiny Homers.

So I’d wager that you have a microwave. And based on your urge to optimize, it’s safe to bet you’d want to squeeze out every last drop of lemon juice.

Instructions

  1. Follow the same instructions as the Tiny Homers
  2. Except, zap the lemon in the microwave for 45 seconds before slicing in half.

Pros: You avoid inflating your lifestyle to the Frugal Foodie level with a mechanical citrus juicer.

With this technique, you can still get out every last drop of lemon juice and retire in the next year on your lean FIRE budget.

Cons: You’re probably better off a mechanical citrus juicer.


For the Hardcore Minimalist

You can use:

  • your bare hands

Since you’ve given away your electric citrus juicer, mechanical juicer, and probably knives and forks, we’ll have to get creative with the lemons.

This is totally doable with your bare hands.

The most challenging part will be finding a vessel to collect the lemon juice and cleanly slicing the lemons. 

Can you find a cup, a bowl, or a wine glass? Beg, borrow, steal? What about dumpster diving?

Instructions

  1. If you have a sharp knife, by all means, slice the lemon in half.
  2. If you’re out camping and you have a Leatherman, use it.
  3. If you’ve got nothing, find a sharp rock.
  4. If you don’t even have rocks because you’re that hardcore, tear the lemon in half with your bare hands. Probably fingernails will help you dig into the zest and rind.
  5. Once you’ve halved your lemon, squeeze it with all your might to extract as much juice out as possible. You probably won’t be maximizing the amount of juice, but the pursuit of goals isn’t the point of minimalism, right?
  6. If you’re truly hardcore, crush the lemon against your forehead and see how much juice you can collect. (Be wary of the citric acid burning your eyes.)

Pros: Squeezed a lemon with no equipment. That’s an impressive feat. Pat on the back deserved. 

Cons: You get lemon juice all over your hands. And maybe your face. And maybe your eyes.


Now you’ve really got no excuse!

Enjoy fresh lemon juice in your cooking, baking, and drinking.

Do you have recipes on how to best enjoy lemons? Share them in the comments below.

READ NEXT: How to make tasty lemonade at home. With different flavors like basil lemonade and lavender lemonade.

Anna looking down chopping vegetables
About Anna Rider

Hi! I'm Anna, a food writer who documents kitchen experiments on GarlicDelight.com with the help of my physicist and taste-testing husband, Alex. I have an insatiable appetite for noodles 🍜 and believe in "improv cooking".

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