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The Fruit Nerd’s juiciest tips for picking a ripe lemon, plus the best ways to cut and store them

Winter may be a dormant time for many plants, but for citrus trees — like lemons — it’s a time when they’re at their best.

Melbourne-based fruit grower Thanh Truong (aka The Fruit Nerd) shares a few tips on choosing a good lemon and the best ways to cut and store it.

If you want to grow your own lemons, there’s a trick to growing a big, succulent lemon tree — and it has to do with the type of fertilizer you use.

How to pick a juicy lemon

Thanh says dark yellow lemons are a sign that they are ripe and juicy on the inside.(ABC Everyday: Matthew Garrow)

What signs should you look for when picking a ripe, juicy lemon? Thanh says it’s all the texture of the skin.

“Smooth-skinned lemons represent ripeness or ripeness,” he says.

“That means there’s more juice and it’s heavier, while you’ve picked a little less ripe [will] be uneven and there won’t be as much juice in there.”

Farmers typically harvest lemons as they turn from white to yellow. So if you’re buying lemons from the supermarket, Thanh recommends choosing one that’s “at a darker yellow stage.”

A few varieties of lemon are grown in Australia: Eureka, Lisbon and Meyer (each with different benefits). If you’re a fan of citrus fruits like thanh, then a Meyer lemon might be a good option for you.

“It’s my favorite lemon,” he says.

“It’s half a lemon and half a tangerine, giving it the characteristics of both – it has the aroma, fragrance and sweetness of a tangerine, but it has the acidity and flavor of a lemon.

“My trick, if you can’t buy a Meyer lemon, is to squeeze out one part lemon and one part tangerine and you get the perfect zesty sweet taste,” he says.

Urinating on your lemon tree can help it grow

People have long sworn by urinating on citrus trees to help them grow, and Thanh says this underrated hack can yield some good results.

“Urinating on a lemon tree will give you [a] comparable amount [of nutrients] to a general fertilizer. These nutrients help with tree health, more flowering and more fruit,” he explains.

If you’d rather stick to a store-bought product, Thanh says that a good fertilizer for your lemon tree will generally have nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) in the ingredients list.

Cut and reserve lemons

You may have noticed that chefs roll their lemons before slicing them and then wonder why they take that extra little step?

Juicing a lemon can be a difficult task, but Thanh explains that rolling a lemon before slicing it makes juicing easier.

“When you roll the lemon, you’re actually crushing the bubbles so the juice is easily accessible after squeezing,” he says.

What you use your lemons for will determine how best to cut them.

If you want to get the most juice out of your lemon, Thanh says, slice it horizontally.(ABC Everyday: Matthew Garrow)

If you’re making homemade lemonade or cooking a recipe where you want to get all the juice out of your lemon, Thanh recommends slicing it horizontally rather than vertically. This way you’ll squeeze all the juice out of each segment.

But if you’re looking for lemon wedges to have alongside your food — like fish and chips — then vertical slicing is the way to go.

The great thing about lemons – unlike other fruits – is that they last a long time. If you keep them in the fridge, you can keep them for up to six months.

Is bottled lemon juice a good alternative?

Bottled lemon juice might be a good alternative, but there’s a difference in taste.

“Bottled lemon juice contains preservatives and may have been cooked to preserve it, so it has a much smoother lemon flavor,” says Thanh.

“If you want something smart and want to eat it fresh, [like in salads, cocktails, or oysters] Then a fresh lemon is the way to go.

“If you cook a hearty dish and [cooking] down the lemon juice, bottled juice is actually a good option,” he says.

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