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A bowl of lemons

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Look for brightly colored lemons without discoloration or spots on the rind. The juiciest ones feel dense and give slightly when gently squeezed. Choose organic if possible, especially if you plan to zest them. And though they look pretty in a fruit bowl, lemons will last longer when refrigerated in a zip-top bag.

Get What You Pay For

To juice a lemon, first roll it on the counter while applying gentle pressure with your hand before cutting it in half. This can help burst the segments inside, making for easier juicing. Consider investing in a citrus juicer or reamer, which will usually yield more juice than squeezing the fruit with your hands.

Zest for Life

A teaspoon of lemon zest can add a bright note to pastas, baked goods, vinaigrettes, and more. A Microplane grater is the best tool for this job, but a zester, box grater, vegetable peeler, or sharp knife will also work. Wash the lemon before you zest it, and be sure to zest only the top yellow layer and leave the bitter white pith.

Clean Green

Lemon juice is not quite strong enough to act as a disinfectant, but it does have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties — plus a refreshing scent. Running half a lemon through your garbage disposal can neutralize odors. You can also use one to clean your wooden cutting board. Sprinkle the board with coarse salt and scrub the surface with a lemon half, cut side down. Allow the juice and salt to sit for five minutes, then scrape clean and rinse.

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